x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

UAE praised for sustainability efforts as Cityscape opens its doors

Cityscape Abu Dhabi 2013 highlights the latest offerings in the local and regional real-estate development and investment sectors.

The Urban Square at Masdar City in Abu Dhabi - one of the UAE's sustainable green buildings. Ravindranath K / The National
The Urban Square at Masdar City in Abu Dhabi - one of the UAE's sustainable green buildings. Ravindranath K / The National

ABU DHABI // The UAE's progress in constructing eco-friendly buildings has been praised by experts ahead of the city's biggest annual property exhibition.

"Clients are requesting more sustainable designs than ever," said Holley Chant, corporate sustainability director at KEO International Consultants.

"There has been a greater focus on improving existing buildings, refurbishments, performing energy audits and for feasibility studies for going green and improved levels in sustainability rating systems, such as Leed and Estidama.

"There has been an increase in available green-building products and more suppliers are providing more sustainable options, which are driving the market to becoming more sustainable."

Ms Chant spoke ahead of the Cityscape Abu Dhabi 2013 property show, which opens at Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Centre today.

The three-day event highlights the latest offerings in the local and regional real-estate development and investment sectors.

"The next five years are looking green, greener, greenest yet for the UAE," said Ms Chant, who will host a seminar on sustainable infrastructures.

"Developers are seeing the value add by implementing sustainable practices, and the triple bottom line is no longer a long-term vision but a tangible reality that is worth the investment.

"Over the next year, we will definitely see a trend in increased demand for sustainable practices for existing buildings, operations and maintenance."

Excellent examples of green buildings, Ms Chant said, include Abu Dhabi's Masdar Institute of Science and Technology and eco-friendly schools built by the Abu Dhabi Educational Council, such as Mubarak bin Mohammed School, which uses photovoltaic panels to produce electricity.

"The UAE still has some work to do to improve performance on select global sustainability metrics, like energy and water consumption per capita, but the country has used these rankings in a very honest and transparent fashion as motivation to spur positive change on a number of sustainable fronts," she added.

For Ms Chant, positive sustainability change has been achieved rapidly thanks to the bold action of Government leaders.

A recent example, she said, was the participation by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, in Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week's ceremonies in January.

Education and awareness programmes, such as the Abu Dhabi Regulation and Supervision Bureau's Powerwise and Waterwise programmes, also helped facilitate change by teaching consumers about the impacts of their habits.

"Sustainable green buildings are very critical for the future of the UAE because without a transformation to a greener-built environment, the dependence on fossil fuels will escalate to a point that it becomes an impediment for economic growth," Ms Chant said.

jbell@thenational.ae