GCC Embraces Green Building Development

Today, about 40 percent of global energy and 25 percent of global water are used by buildings, which are also responsible for approximately one third of all global greenhouse gases. Yet, buildings offer the greatest opportunities for achieving sustainable development, as per a report recently published by the Big 5. According to Ventures Middle East, GCC countries are increasingly embracing sustainable and green building development wherein environmentally-friendly materials are used to build and the construction process ensures that there is minimal degradation of the environment. Ratings – such as BREEAM in the United Kingdom and LEED of the United States – have been introduced to encourage builders to conserve scarce resources through green building codes that help in establishing standards across the global construction industry. The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) estimates that a green building, on average would reduce energy usage by 30 percent, carbon emissions by 35 percent, water use by 30 to 50 percent, and generate waste cost savings of 50 to 90 percent.

As per Ventures Middle East, usage of dimension stone is limited in the GCC. However, there is an increasing preference seen, mainly in projects that aim to be LEED certified. Dimension stone, which is inherently earth-friendly, has a higher advantage over steel, concrete, glass and laminated plastics that have energy intensive manufacturing process and create significant air and water pollution. As an entirely natural product, dimension stone also has an advantage over synthetic or artificial stone products, as well as composite materials. Natural stone therefore is an accepted alternative when selecting sustainable building materials for a green project. As demand for green buildings has increased, ceramic tile manufacturers have also started manufacturing tiles from recycled materials. Key manufacturers of ceramic and porcelain tiles in the Middle East have introduced a variety of green products that can improve the environmental quality of buildings. In the GCC, high preference exists for stone products that meet green building standards, in order to achieve LEED credits.

On 14 December 2016, the USGBC announced the Top 10 Countries for LEED, a list that highlights countries outside the United States that are making significant strides in sustainable building design, construction and market transformation.

USGBC is working toward a net zero carbon designation to recognize leaders in the building sector”

These countries represent the ever-growing international demand for LEED-certified green buildings. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the world’s most widely used green building rating system. The analysis used to develop the list ranks countries in terms of cumulative LEED-certified GSM space as of December 2016. LEED-certified spaces use fewer energy and water resources; save money for families, businesses and taxpayers; reduce carbon emissions; and prioritize environmental and human health. In 2016, China moved from second to first on the list as the largest user of LEED, with 34.62 million gross square meters (GSM) of certified LEED space. Canada, India, Brazil and the Republic of Korea rounded out the top five countries on the list, respectively.

Currently, there are more than 82,000 commercial projects participating in LEED, totaling more than 1.4 billion GSM of space worldwide. An additional 112,000 residential units have been certified under LEED Homes. An estimated 170,000 GSM of space achieves LEED certification every day in more than 162 countries and territories across the globe, according to a report published by USGBC.

“In spite of these challenges, the UAE was named one of the top 10 markets for green building space”

The report adds that as buildings currently account for an estimated one-third of global emissions, green buildings are one of the most cost-effective solutions to climate change because they generate significant environmental, economic and societal benefits. USGBC is working toward a net zero carbon designation to recognize leaders in the building sector, and to drive reductions in the carbon footprint across the buildings sector as is necessary for successful implementation of the Paris Agreement.

On the other hand, the climate of the UAE is among the most challenging in the world when it comes to implementing sustainable building solutions. In spite of these challenges, the UAE was named one of the top 10 markets for green building space by the USGBC in 2015 with the eighth-largest stock of LEED certified buildings outside the United States, according to the Big 5. The report further states that according to statistics released by Green Technologies, as of August 2016, the UAE in fact 221 USGBC LEED certified buildings, followed by Saudi Arabia (124) and Qatar (97). The UAE ranks number one in the Middle East with 609 LEED registered projects, preceding by far Saudi Arabia (99), Qatar (82), Lebanon (37), Oman (27) and Jordan (23).

ACW Content & Research Team