UAE seeks to become a successful model of a sustainable economy

UAE seeks to become a successful model of a sustainable economyImage Credit: Supplied

The UAE has been a frontrunner in embracing green practices. In 2012, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launched the Green Growth Strategy under the slogan, A Green Economy for Sustainable Development, wherein the UAE seeks to become a successful model of a sustainable economy. Different green initiatives have been put to practice since then. Many entities in the UAE have employed global sustainability standards in their work practices that have improved their environmental, social and fiscal performance, and contributed towards the government's ambitious green initiative. It has also helped them achieve recognition through international green brands like LEED, Globe Key, Green Globe and ISO 50001.

Property Weekly speaks with energy experts on the four leading Green Certification Systems that are popular worldwide.

ISO 50001 Energy Management Systems

Spokesperson: Stephen Forsythe, Managing Consultant, Equas UAE — A division of WeDoIT

Sector focus: Globally, all organizations be it large or small, in public and private sectors, in manufacturing or services, including industrial plants, commercial, institutional and governmental facilities, are all eligible to apply for the ISO 50001 framework.

Programme: This is a relatively new standard, first published in 2011. It is based on the model of continual improvement, which makes it easier for companies to weave an energy management system into their overall efforts. This standard is applicable irrespective of the types of energy used and can be used for certification, registration and self-declaration of an organisation's energy management systems.

Developed by: ISO 50001 is a standard produced by ISO, the International Organisation for Standardisation — world's largest developer of voluntary international standards. It comprises 163 national standards bodies.

National operator: Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology, or ESMA, is ISO 50001's UAE representative body.

Rating system: The system is independently audited by a certification body to ensure it follows the requirements laid out in the standard and that it is an appropriate energy management system for the size and scope of the organization that runs the system. There is no rating, as such, but only one certification Cost factor:There are potentially three groups of people involved in the production of and certification—the organisation, a consultancy practice expert in producing the system with the client, and the certification body that validates the system. Costs can vary hugely depending on a variety of factors.

Awarded entities: No official figures are available, either for the UAE or globally. However, NAGUS, the German Federation Environment Agency published data in 2014 that showed 7,345 organisations had been certified, with the UAE having 12 of them (ranking the UAE 23rd, with Germany number one with 1,812 organisations certified).

Green Key

Spokesperson: Saeed Al Abbar, Chairman of Emirates Green Building Council and board member of the World Green Building Council

Sector focus: Globally, all hotels, campsites, attractions, restaurants and small accommodations can apply to receive the Green Key certification, however in the UAE the focus is only on hotels and hotel apartments.

Programme: It underlines the environment-friendly energy, water and waste management commitment of hotels, serviced apartments and other accommodation facilities, thereby promoting sustainable practices in the leisure organisations.

Developed by: Developed by the Foundation for Environmental Education, the programme is recognised by the World Tourism Organisation and United Nations Environment Programme.

National operator: Emirates Green Building Council is the national operator for the Green Key programme in the UAE, since May 2013.

Rating system: Each accommodation must meet a list of criteria covering key aspects, including environmental management, staff and guest awareness, and efficient management of water, energy and waste. The application process requires the hotel to submit its application with supporting documentation and participate in an audit to ensure the mandatory criteria have been met. A minimum baseline must be met in the first year of certification. Upon successful validation with a third party high-level Green Key National Jury; the hotel will be issued the Green Key certification.

Cost factor: Since the programme is operated as not-for-profit, costs are reasonable for hotels. For information contact

Awarded entities: There are around 2,400 hotels and other sites in 49 countries worldwide with Green Key certification. In the UAE, 25 hotels are Green Key certified, as of June 2015. In 2014, 24 hotels and resorts were certified in the UAE.

LEED or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design

Spokesperson: Prof Bassam Abu-Hijleh, Dean — Faculty of Engineering and IT and Head of the Sustainable Design of the Built Environment programme at The British University in Dubai.

Sector focus: LEED works for all buildings at all stages of development, from design and construction to the maintenance and operation of existing buildings. All building sectors such as homes, hospitals, corporate headquarters, schools, retail, hospitality, warehouse and data centre can apply and obtain LEED certification.

Programme: LEED is a green building assessment system that evaluates the impact of a building on different variables such as energy consumption, pollution, water usage, material used and many more. This international green building brand equips owners and operators with a structure to identify and execute practical and measurable green building designs, construction, operations and maintenance solutions. There are different sub sections in LEED, which deal with different types of buildings based on their function, namely:

LEED for Building Design and Construction [newly constructed buildings and those going through a major renovation];

LEED for Operations and Maintenance [existing buildings that are undergoing improvement work or little to no construction];

LEED for Interior Design and Construction [projects that are a complete interior fit-out];

LEED for Building Design and Construction [single family homes, low-rise or mid-rise multi-family];

LEED for Neighborhood Development [new land development or redevelopment projects containing residential uses, non-residential uses, or a mix and at any stage of the development process]

Developed by: US Green Building Council.

National operator: US Green Building Council directly administers the programme.

Rating system: LEED has four levels of certification — the number of points a project earns determines the level of LEED certification that the project will receive. Maximum number of points a building can earn is 110 — if the score is 40-49 then it's Certified; if it's 50-59 then Silver; if it's 60-79 then Gold; 80 plus points is Platinum-certified level. The higher your certification levels means the building is greener and has less impact on the environment.

Cost factor: A flat registration fee is paid up front at the time of registration. The certification fee is based on the size of the project and the rating system under which the project was registered. Certification fees are paid at the time a project team submits their application for review.

Awarded entities: As of June 2015, there is a total of 820 UAE projects that are registered with the US Green Building Council (USGBC) targeting for LEED certification, out of these 114 UAE building are certified by the LEED rating systems, according the USGBC's official website. Eleven of the UAE's LEED certified buildings achieved LEED Platinum, these include: ESAB Middle East FZE, Bloomberg Dubai, Pacific Controls HQ Building, Tecom Management Office Renovation, Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre, Du Retail Store-Fujairah City Centre, TLM International FZE, The Change Initiative TCI, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Panasonic Avionics.

Green Globe

Spokesperson: Sandrine Le Biavant — Director Consultancy, Farnek Middle East LLC Consulting division of Farnek Services

Sector focus: All businesses in travel, tourism and hospitality industry including beachside resorts, urban hotels, conference centre, rainforest eco-lodges, mountain chalets, spas and the supply chain partners such as hotel suppliers or logistics distribution centres can apply.

Programme: This performance improvement standard provides a framework to conduct a comprehensive annual assessment of sustainability performance, through which hotels or tourism entities can integrate a selection of over 385 indicators applied to 44 individual criteria to their own standards and build up their sustainability culture, awareness and action plans. It is also an efficient tool to monitor improvements and ensure practices and efforts are maintained and improved.

Developed by: Green Globe International, Inc — a Delaware company, is a majority owner of Green Globe Ltd, a UK company that owns the trademark rights to Green Globe and its logo.

National operator: Farnek Middle East is the exclusive partner for Green Globe Certification in the UAE and the preferred partner for the rest of MENA region.

Rating system: Green Globe is only available for existing properties. However, 25 per cent of indicators are valid for integration in new buildings. The entity is audited based on applicable standards including 385 indicators applied over 44 criteria. The standards cover a variety of aspects such as sustainable management, socio-economic, cultural heritage and environmental standards. The property must comply with all mandatory indicators (around 30 per cent) and with minimum 51 per cent of all criteria to be certified. Hotel must be audited every year and have an onsite audit at least every second year. Hotel must show continual improvement during the recertification audit on the second year and the following years.

Cost factor: It is broadly divided into two segments. A membership fee that depends on the size of the property, number of rooms or number of employees and the audit fee that depends on size of property, corporate membership and services attained to achieve certification such as consultancy. Then there is consultancy fee that is gap analysis, support to understand the concepts and trainingare some other services provided by Farnek Middle East to reach the audit phase.

Awarded entities: Over 800 businesses worldwide are Green Globe certified. In the UAE, 37 hotels are awarded as of June 2015. The prominent hotel chains in the UAE that are Green Globe certified include all Movenpick Hotels & Resorts; all Jumeirah Properties including colleagues accommodation and the Emirates Academy of Hospitality, Jebel Ali Hotels and Resorts, Time Hotels, Park Regis Kris Kin Hotel, One&Only Hotels and some Anantara Hotels.

Here's a glimpse on Dubai's luxury realty which de-links from wider market

Source: Hina Navin, Special to Property Weekly


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