x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Green building can't wait

The design and construction industry "simply doesn't have time" to wait for the end of a recession before taking action on sustainable development.

Moves towards green building design and construction should not be stalled by a global recession, according to Keith Clarke, the chief executive of engineering and design firm, WS Atkins. Mr Clarke said the design and construction industry "simply doesn't have time" to wait for the end of a recession before taking action on sustainable development. "We're in the midst of a financial crash and on the edge of a global recession," Mr Clarke told a green building conference in Dubai earlier today.

"But what's really important now is how we change the way we use our resources and our environment. We, as professionals, have to hold our nerve. We don't have time to wait through a three to five year global recession. Whether we have a boom or a recession, we have to start rationing carbon." Mr Clarke added that he had little faith in the trade of carbon emissions as a way of saving the world. Some companies in the UAE, including Masdar, the clean energy firm, are planning to profit from the growing market for carbon credits in Europe by reducing pollution in the oil and gas industry.

Under such a plan, the company would design a project to reduce or capture carbon emissions, and then collect a proportion of the credits, which they would then sell. "There's been abject failures by banks in the US and UK, and abject failures to actually count money. If the banks can't trade mortgages, then why would you trust them with the world?" Mr Clarke said that the Gulf region has the capacity to change the direction towards green building design quicker than anywhere else in the world.

In November last year, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai issued a new resolution on the implementation of green building specifications and standards in Dubai. Under the resolution, all owners of residential and commercial buildings in the emirate must comply with internationally recognised environmentally-friendly specifications.

agiuffrida@thenational.ae