Tag Archive | "EGBC"

EmiratesGBC Congress to highlight green building regulations and financing

The second Annual Congress of the Emirates Green Building Council (EmiratesGBC), an independent forum aimed at conserving the environment by strengthening and promoting green building practices, to be held on December 11 & 12, 2013, at the Grosvenor House Dubai, will put the spotlight on green building regulations, green financing schemes and governmental approaches to promote all-round sustainable development.

Adnan Sharafi, Chairman of EmiratesGBC and Board Member of the World Green Building Council, said: “The case studies presented at the Congress will serve in sharing best practices with policy makers and stakeholders across the construction sector supply chain. The Congress indeed has been conceptualised to promote knowledge sharing that will enable the region to highlight its leadership in promoting sustainable growth.”

Among the confirmed keynote speakers at the event, include representatives of the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council, Dubai Municipality, the Environmental Agency Abu Dhabi, and United Nations Development Programme.

One of the key sessions on the opening day of the Conference focuses on financing schemes for green buildings covering the need for financing, innovative financing mechanisms, incentive strategies and fee structures. The panelists include representatives of DEWA, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, Etisalat, Regulation & Supervision Bureau (RSB) and Dubai Supreme Council of Energy. Majid Al Futtaim Properties, Qatar Green Building Council and Estidama will present case studies highlighting the benefits of sustainable built environments.

A series of workshops will be held on the second day of the Congress. The Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council will discuss about Estidama, while the Dubai Carbon Centre of Excellence will present a workshop on measuring carbon footprint.

The Congress is open to EmiratesGBC members and non-members. To attend, they have to register at http://emiratesgbc.org/congress/register/. Registration fees are AED 1,500 for members and AED 2,000 for non-members, providing access to the 2-day Congress, including workshops and gala dinner.



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BGreen Awards 2013 winners share their secrets

Around 300 people attended the BGreen Awards 2013 ceremony held at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel on Thursday November 28 to see awards in 12 categories recognising the sustainability initiatives of a range of private and public sector organisaitons.

Lorraine Bangera and Anoop Menon spoke with each of the winners as they stepped off the stage with their award.

ost Sustainable Large Corporation

Winner: Interface.

This year’s BGreen winner Interface was founded in 1973 and now employs 3,000 across the world and as well as producing a unique sustainable product, most of its buildings meet LEED and USGBC performance requirements too.

Its neat scheme to use old fishing nets to make carpet tiles alongisde its strong company ethos for sustainability earned it the award.

The award was presented by Rami Hajjar, GM at Philips Lighting ME, too Jubilant Clement, Business Development Manager and Turgay Turan, Business Develpment Executive at Interface.

Clement said: “Winning this award is fantastic. Being a part of Interface, we have a path of sustainability since 1994. The company has set a target that by the year 2020, we will be a net zero company in line with our founder’s vision.

“Our efforts are being recognised by people across the world. Dubai winning the Expo 2020 is great and it coincides with our goal Net Zero 2020. This is a milestone for us, but we are very excited about achieving it.”

Interface is a world leader in its production field and awards guest were told that it uses 95% less water in its production process, compared to 30 years ago and its most recent sustainability driven innovation uses old fishing nets, which are recycled improving the lives of fishermen, the seashore… and helping make a new range of carpet tiles.

Runner up Unibeton is a recognised leader in its field with the promotion of green sustainable concrete, and telecom operator Du’s has embraced sustainability, from recycling and reducing electricity consumption, to low-emission vehicles and well educated staff.


Contractor of the Year 

Winner: Brookfield Multiplex

Noha Kadora, KONE’s  Marketing Manager presented the award to  Stephen Smith, Environmental & Sustainability Manager at the Brookfield Multiplex.

He said: “We are very happy and excited. We have worked very hard to get to a place like this. The BGreen Award is great, we have supported BGreen for the last year, and look forward to supporting it in 2014 and hopefully further on.

MC Ben Jacobs told the audience: “It [Brookfield Multiplex] has an exciting track record in sustainable construction, From the Masdar HQ in Abu Dhabi to number One JLT in Dubai as well as this year’s Standard Chartered Tower. This company continues to demonstrate an integrated sustainability vision for all of its operations.


Green Building Project of the Year

Winner: The Change Initiative building in Barsha.

The award was presented by Peter Robinson, the marketing manager of Gyproc, to Chetna Pandita, Head of Marketing and Communications at The Change.

She said: “This is very exciting. In our heart we knew we were going to win this award because we got the LEED platinum certification, but we just wanted to be modest. We believe in sustainability throughout.

“Our core competence is sustainability. We want to engrave sustainable solutions in everyday life for everybody, which has been the main aim of the company. So this has been a very proud and very humble moment for all of us.”

MC Ben Jacobs told the audinece: “LEED awarded it 107 out of a possible 110 LEED points making it the most sustainable building in the world. And if that wasn’t enough, it’s a place where you can buy an impressive range of sustainable and green products.”


Energy Efficiency Project of the Year

Winner: Green Energy Solutions and Sustainability LLC

The award was presented by Khaled Al Huraimel, Group Chief Executive Officer of Bee’ah and collected on behalf of the company by Gary Wright, senior editor of BGreen.

Green Energy Solutions and Sustainability LLC is a Dubai-based business established in 2011 to provide alternative and renewable energy solutions. It targeted landfill site in the region with a specific aim to reduce greenhouse gas and use it for power production. Today at Dubai’s Al Qusais landfill a gas engine running on landfill methane produces all the power needs of the site and the municipality offices.

Al Qusais Landfill is the first landfill in the region to produce electricity from landfill gas cutting the emission of more than 350,000 tonnes of CO2 a year.

The company’s entry explained: “Our space is at the landfill site and the site is powered by the landfill gas. We are not certified but we are totally sustainable. Air conditioning units and the chillers for the flaring plant are operated by the landfill gas engine. No fossil fuels are being used and all lights are operating by the electricity provided by the landfill gas engine no fossil fuels are being used.
The company is also involved in education programs with the schools and government agencies on sustainability, carbon management, and awareness programs on what we are achieving.


Sustainable Lighting Project of the Year

Winner: Lietcorp Middle East

John Carruthers, Managing Director at Lietcorp Middle East and Africa, picked up the award for the Sustainable Lighting Project of the Year, which was presented by by Ida Tillisch, of EWS-WWF.

He said: “From our side we are an LED manufacturer, everything we make is sustainable. We educate clients and get them to work along someone who is like Al Futtaim, which is such a large project, to be recognised.

And their efforts and our efforts in doing it, is very important especially in terms of Expo 2020. We were supporting Dubai Expo 2020, as a part of their bid was sustainability, green building and zero carbon emissions, etc. So for us of course that is fantastic as an LED manufacturer, everything we do is at the leading edge of lighting.

The company oversaw the retrofitting of lights at Dubai Festival City Mall, which has reaped annual energy savings of $25,000  and by removing the need for replacement lamps for another 15 years, it saved another $30,000.

Lietcorp, established in 2005, specialises in innovative LED technologies for commercial lighting applications. It employs 80 staff in the UK, UAE, Spain and Germany who provide sustainable lighting solutions by lowering energy consumption, carbon emissions and improving light quality.

In its submission for the award, Leicorp said: “Our brief for the Dubai Festival City Mall project we are entering was to create a sustainable lighting solution, with payback within two years and maximum energy savings. The space was not ideal for lighting at all, with over 2.8 million sq ft of floor space to light and a 23m ceiling on the ground floor with a large glass atrium.”

Most Sustainable Non-Government Organisation

Winner: EWS-WWF

The award was presented  by DTCM’s Shaikha Ebrahim AlMutawa to Ida Tillisch, Director General of EWS-WWF.
She said: “BGreen Awards in general is a very important award, as it is recognising sustainability throughout all sectors. It is great, because particularly in this region sustainability is going above and beyond.

“I think it is increasingly important to be recognised. Emirates Wildlife Society – WWF to receive the Most Sustainable NGO means a lot, we do a lot in the region to conserve our biodiversity, tackling climate change and reducing the ecological footprint. It is always nice to know it is being recognised.”

Talking about its plans for next year, she said: “We do have a long-term strategy, for next year we are working on issues for conserving biodiversity. Also working closely with the government on a project called the Ecological Footprint Initiative, which is project aimed at reducing the ecological footprint of the country.”

Emirates Wildlife Society (EWS) is a UAE environmental NGO, which works in association with WWF, one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organisations. EWS-WWF has been active in the UAE since 2001 and has initiated and implemented  dozens of conservation and education projects in the region. The Marine Turtle Conservation Project is helping to paint a picture of the global health of our oceans. Its  Blue Flag programme seeks to adopt sustainable practices and ensure residents and visitors are appropriately informed about which coastal areas, such as beaches, meet international standards. Working closely with Abu Dhabi Municipality and Dubai Municipality, EWS-WWF has led informative workshops to foster increased capacity building, and to encourage beach and marina operators to join the internationally respected and trusted programme. This year, there were 12 more beaches and marinas added to the programme, which adds up to 24 in total. And Earth Hour in 2013 saw all major cities from the emirates plunge into darkness to join more than 150 countries around the world making it the largest ever participation during the history of Earth Hour.


Sustainable Supplier of the Year

Winner: KONE

The award was presented by Simon Crispe, Commercial Director for Atkins Middle East to Fadi Doleh, NEB Sales Manger for KONE.

He said: “We are very happy to be awarded Sustainable Supplier of the Year. We have developed in this industry with a result at the end of the day.”
Speaking about winning Expo 2020, he said: We are very happy about winning the Expo 2020, as we are a part of Dubai, a part of UAE. Our city getting a chance to host such a massive event will give us a lot of opportunities in construction. Dubai will also be leading the green building industry, will mean we will have a lot of opportunity for businesses.

Announcing the award MC Ben Jacobs told the audience: “The winner changed the market in energy consumption for its product in 1996, which reduced consumption by 70 per cent and continued to develop the concept with an even more economic 2012 design. Elevators are an everyday part of life in this region.”

Established in 1910, the Finnish company is a leading elevator and escalators production in the world, with around 40,000 employees, and annual net sales of $ 8.5 billion in 2012.

Since arriving in the Middle East in the 1980s, KONE has contributed to many of the region’s most high profile construction projects, including the Princess Tower in Dubai – the world’s tallest residential building – the award-winning Etihad Towers in Abu Dhabi, and The Clock Tower in Makkah.


Most Sustainable Government Department

Winner: Emirates Transport

Van T. Tran, Senior Strategy & Investment Advisor from Green Energy Solutions presented the award to Eng. Amer Al Harmody, CEO of Emorates Trnsport’s  Technical Department.

He was accompanied by five other members of the Emirates Transport team including Fadil Ataalla, manager of Emirates Luxury Vehicle, a subsidiary owned by Emirates Transport.

Fadil Ataalla said: “It is a great pleasure and honour for the Emirates Transport team. The leaders of Emirates Transport have been following and concentrating on making a mark in the field of green.

“We represent the government in many sectors, one of which is the transportation field. We do have a responsibility towards the community to reduce our carbon footprint. Sustainability is one of our main target, our main achievement to change and reduce the carbon footprint and make a green fleet. This is just the beginning and there is still a lot of research going on.

“We have the biggest lease of buses in the UAE, and we do understand our responsibility in reducing our CO2 output. You will see how we will work towards reducing our carbon footprint in the coming years.”

Emirates Transport had a lot to talk about this year having converted 3,000 of its 12,000 vehicle fleet plus another 1,000 taxis and police cars to run on compressed natural gas.

CNG reduces carbon monoxide emissions by 93 per cent compared with petrol. It has halved the 15,000 tyres dumped in landfill each year by setting up a re-treading factory and all its vehicles use waterless washing.


Best Waste Management Company

Winner: Bee’ah

The award was presented by Mrs Arzu Bilgen of BASF to Khaled Al Huraimel, Group CEO of Bee’ah.

He said: “First of all we are very proud to win this award. Bee’ah has set a very high benchmark to be a leader in waste management in the Middle East. We have set a target to achieve zero waste going to landfill by the 2015, and we have already achieved a lot. Today, this is just a testimony that we are on the right track on the way to leading environmental change in the region.”

Speaking about Dubai Expo 2020, he said: “The vision of our leaders have always put UAE and its population in the leading position. This Award is a testimony to the vision of our leaders, and just like Bee’ah which is another success story out of Sharjah. We have won many awards, showing we are in line with the vision of our leaders.”

MC Ben Jacobs told the audience: The winner was chosen for its lead in waste reduction. A company, which has this year saved 60 per cent of waste going to landfill and has pledged to make that 100 per cent by 2015.

Bee’ah, based in Sharjah, was founded in 2007 with the specific aims of enhancing the environment and achieve added-value commercial ventures, while upholding its commitments to stakeholders.

Bee’ah established Tandeef, its waste collection and street cleaning division, as well as the Waste Management Complex (WMC) which promised and entirely new approach to managing waste with some of the most advanced waste recovery and recycling facilities, run by a team of international experts.

Worldwide 70% of municipal solid waste is dumped or landfilled, only 19% is recycled and 11% is subject to energy recovery. Today Bee’ah diverts more than 60% from landfills and is on target for Sharjah to be the first Arab city to divert 100% of its waste from landfill.


Most Sustainable Small or Medium Business

Winner: Genesis Manazil Steel Framing

Ms Firdaus Shariff, Head of Marketing, SAP Middle East and North Africa to Ahmed Mahmoud Shalaby, Business Development Executive of Genesis Manazil Group.

He said:We are happy because this is our first ‘green’ award.”
Dubai’s Expo success was one of the main themes of the evening and he added: “Dubai winning expo 2020 is great. It is a wonderful opportunity for improving sustainability in the country.”

The award set out to recognise the SME, which demonstrated a positive and clear sustainability strategy, especially those that made an early effort to adopt green policies.

NC Ben Jacobs told the awards audience: “The winner’s products meet all Estidama and LEED requirements, with energy savings across the board and promises its steel framed buildings offer the greenest solution on the market.”

Genesis Manazil Steel Framing was set up in 2005 and now employs around 90 people, in Abu Dhabi working from the architectural drawings all the way to inspect the finished light steel structure. Steel is recyclable and construction processes ensure it is easily done when the time comes.

ecofriendly sustainable solution, that complies with LEED and ESTIDAMA requirements, and saves energy and water consumption which are a major initiative lead by UAE governments.”


BGreen Editor’s Choice Award

Winner: Unibeton

Presented by BGreen senior editor Gary Wright to Robin Jones, Director of International Strategic Business Development and Marketing at Unibeton. He said: “The success of our business is the quality of service and product with the enhancement of environmentally friendly production practices. As far as awards are concerned this is good way to congratulate those companies that excel, however it’s the journey that they take for the award that builds the excellence.

From a Unibeton perspective, many years ago environmental attitudes were merely lip service, but the world has moved on to a real time environmental status. The rulers have given us a mandate which is tough, and we as progressive companies must rise up to the challenge. I think awards like this and the support you can see tonight, show companies with courage and commitment and solid sustainability ideas to go forward especially for the Expo 2020 and beyond.”

In his assessment of the company editor Wright said: “There is no escaping the fact that the production of cement is polluting but concrete is vital for the whole infrastructure of this region.

“You will have noticed tonight that one finalist’s name has appeared in three categories.

“This company started in the UAE in 1980 and is now the biggest producer in the country with the capacity to produce 10 million cubic metres of concrete a year delivered through its fleet of 600 ready mix trucks.

“It has been involved in some record breaking concrete pours, from the Palm, here in Dubai, to the Holy Mosque expansion in Makkah.

“This company has pioneered the use of green cement to produce its concrete. This company has achieved carbon savings of 70% with its green products. And this company has set sustainability targets both for its products and its day-to-day operation that are an example not only to companies in this region, but producers across the world.”

Special Award for International Recognition


Presented by the winner of  this year’s  Pro Chef Magazine sustainability champion award, the director of kitchens at the Radisson Blu Diera Creek  Uwe Micheel to Antonio El Sayegh, head of coporate communication at BASF.

He said: “The award is not significant unless you do the action behind it. Hopefully we have a lot of plans in sustainability, and we have strategy to deliver that.”

BASF is a world leading chemical company and one which has recognised its corporate responsibility to the environment and also supports campaigns in each of its operational regions.

Here in the UAE it is the main sponsor of The Eco-Schools programme, which engages children and young people in key issues including the environment, sustainability, global citizenship and the value of a low carbon future.


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BGreen Awards 2013: The Winners

More than 300 people attended one of the biggest evenings in the UAE last night for the BGreen Awards 2013.

The glittering ceremony at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel in Dubai recognised the sustainability achievements of organisations across the country in 12 categories.

Among the guests were government delegations from Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), Dubai Municipality and Emirates Transport.

Addressing the audience at the beginning, DTCM’s Shaikha Ebrahim Al Mutawa who told the audience of her joy over the Expo 2020 win for Dubai, announced the previous evening. “The people are united, not just the emirates but all the nationalities,” she said.

Referring to the Expo bid’s focus on sustainability, she described the BGreen Awards as “a celebration of sustainability and rewarding those companies who have begun the journey – everyone is a winner.”

Introducing the evening BGreen senior editor Gary Wright told the audience: “This evening is about recognising achievements of organisations both large and small and while there can be only one winner in each category. Each of the finalists has my personal congratulations for their sustainability efforts in the past 12 months.”

BGreen Award Winners

(Click on the award to see winner’s reaction)

Most Sustainable Large Corporation,

Winner: Interface.

Runners Up:  Du and Unibeton


Contractor of the Year Award

Winner: Brookfield Multiplex

Runners up: Al Tayer and Arabtec


Green Building Project of the Year

Winner: The Change Intiative building in Barsha.

Runners Up: Dubai Electricity and Water Authority HQ at Al Quoz and Standard Chartered Bank by Brookfield Multiplex in Downtown Burj Khalifa


Energy Efficiency Project of the Year

Winner:  Green Energy Solutions and Sustainability LLC

Runners Up: Dubai Municipality (nominated by Philips) and Pacific Controls System


Sustainable Lighting Project of the Year

Winner: Lietcorp Middle East

Runners Up: iGuzzini (lighting architects) and Philips Lighting Middle East


Most Sustainable Non-Government Organisation

Winner: Emirates Wildlife Society in association with WWF (EWS-WWF)

Runners Up: The Clean Energy Business Council and Emirates Green Building Council


Sustainable Supplier of the Year

Winner: KONE

Runners Up: BASF and Unibeton


Most Sustainable Government Department

Winner: Emirates Transport

Runners Up: Dubai Electricity Water Authority and Dubai Municipality


Best Waste Management Company

Winner: Bee’ah

Runners Up:  Dulsco and Imdaad

Most Sustainable Small or Medium Business

Winner: Genesis Manazil Steel Framing

Runners Up: The Green Office Company and Union paper mills

Editor’s Choice



Special Award for International Recognition



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EGBC Annual Congress on to put the spotlight on ‘Building a Green Future’

Emirates Green Building Council (EmiratesGBC), an independent forum aimed at conserving the environment by strengthening and promoting green building practices, will host its second Annual EGBC Congress on December 11 and 12, 2013, at the Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort in Dubai.

The event will also feature the inaugural EmiratesGBC Awards which honour excellence in sustainability initiatives across the Middle East and North Africa region. Seven awards will be presented to organisations for their demonstrated commitment to sustainable design, construction, and operation of buildings and structures.

Adnan Sharafi, Chairman of EmiratesGBC and Board Member of the World Green Building Council, said: “The event this year is not only focusing on promoting the interaction and networking of industry stakeholders, but also provides a strong platform for young talented professionals to present their winning ideas on sustainable built environments.”

The various sessions at the second Annual EGBC Congress will cover topics including: Green building regulations, sustainability in the tourism sector, sustainable school initiatives, sustainability in the retail sector, financing scheme for green buildings, design aspects of smart buildings, the use of green building materials in the construction industry, and operation and maintenance of buildings, among others.

Set to accelerate sustainable development activities across the entire building supply chain, the Congress is open to EmiratesGBC members and non-members. To attend, they have to register at http://emiratesgbc.org/congress/register/. Registration fees are AED 1,500 for members and AED 2,000 for non-members, providing access to the 2-day Congress, including workshops and gala dinner.


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Big 5 promises to be even bigger

The Big 5 is the Middle East’s largest construction exhibition and this year it will be bigger than ever and packed with new features promising an even better experience.

Educational events will include seminars presented by the Dubai Municipality and Society of Engineers, LEED training and the two-day Sustainable Design and Construction Conference.

The show runs from November 25 to 28 at The Dubai World Trade Centre

The Big 5 Party will be the construction industry’s networking event of the year.

The two-day conference will be opened at 10am on Tuesday November 26 by chairman Saeed Alabbar, Director, AESG; Vice-Chairman, Emirates Green Building Council.

The first day will have then theme Sustainable Design and the second day Sustainable Construction with a range of presentations and panel discussions including:

Balancing iconic local architecture with sustainable design

Achieving higher LEED scores through developing a more energy efficient built environment

Smart buildings, BIM and intelligent design to maximise the performance and reduce the energy consumption of your building

New methods and strategies to drive sustainable building practices across the region

New technologies and opportunities in waste and wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse

You can see a full seminar programme on here

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Building a green future

This month we hear from some of the people involved in implementing key areas of the green economy across the UAE as part of the Sustainable Solutions series hosted by BGreen and Emirates Green Building Council

The UAE has been at the forefront of sustainability drive in the Middle East region during the past 10 years thanks to a leadership that is committed to building and nurturing a green economy. In fact, the country boasts of highest share of green buildings in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region as well as the largest solar thermal power project operating in the world. BGreen and Emirates Green Building Council (EGBC) chaired a round table discussion, the seventh in our collaborative series Sustainable Solutions, to understand the sustainability trends in different sectors of the economy. Round table participants were Ibrahim Al Zubi, head of CSR, Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) Group; Sarfraz Dairkee, general manager of corporate development & engineering, MAHY Khoory; P R Jagannathan, sustainability manager, EHS-Trakhees; and Ajita Nayar, education manager, Emirates Wildlife Society–WWF. Discussion moderated by Anoop K Menon, contributing editor, BGreen.

BGREEN: Given the diversity of Majid Al Futtaim Properties’ business footprint, how has sustainability evolved within the group?

Ibrahim Al Zubi: As an entrepreneur and mall developer, Majid Al Futtaim Properties has come a long way to become one of the biggest names in the region’s retail sector. When we decided to make sustainability an integral part of the company’s outlook, one of the first steps we took was to find out whether we had management buy-in. We engaged the different internal stakeholders and asked them why they wanted sustainability. The key value drivers of sustainability identified were brand reputation, moral obligation, long term profitability, license to operate and corporate citizenship. Given the buyin and added value for the business, we engaged stake holders internally, came up with a policy and created a full time, dedicated post of head of sustainability – which I currently helm – reporting to the CEO. We have put in measurable Key Performance Indicators (KPI) and tangible annual and long term targets that get audited every quarter by a third party auditor. To increase awareness, we also decided to become transparent and share these findings with our staff, the board and external stakeholders.

BGREEN: Are the customer’s customer (i.e. the end consumer) enthused about the fact that they are shopping in a sustainable mall, for example?
Al Zubi:
Part of the marketing department’s KPI as sustainability targets is to do customer surveys. Our end-customers find shopping at Mirdiff City Centre mall, which is the first shopping mall in the region to have been awarded a LEED Gold rating, a positive experience in terms of its physical structure and fit outs compared to other malls. We also have government departments like Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (DEWA) and Dubai Municipality (DM) using the mall to educate consumers about sustainable living. We are now targeting the first LEED EBOM (The LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance) certified shopping mall in the Middle East. We want to document the engagement of our tenants and customers, see if they are aware. Interestingly, during a customer survey in Lebanon, buying a green building asset emerged as one of the top five most important deciding factors. A few days ago, I was part of a panel at the ethical branding conference in Dubai, and what came out is that customer awareness is definitely on the rise.

BGREEN: What has been Emirates Wildlife Society–WWF’s experience in trying to promote sustainability among the schools in the UAE?
Ajita Nayar:
Nine years ago, EWS-WWF started environmental education programmes among students to raise awareness on environmental issues. We thought we will take it in a progressive manner, starting with environmental literacy… first using small booklets, and then progressing to an online education programme. While the programme had a good impact on students we were also keen to see whether the knowledge gained translated into any meaningful action. That’s when we decided to introduce the Eco-Schools programme. The Eco- Schools programme deviates from a formal education strategy where typically teachers tell students what to do. In Eco-Schools, students are encouraged to be the core strategising group in the school. They try to identify what are the key environmental issues in the school and come up with solutions that are simple, practical and gives immediate results. For example, if they have observed that windows are open when the air-conditioning (AC) is running in a classroom, a very simple behavioural change they need to bring about is to ensure windows are closed when the AC is on. The keywords are simple and practical because many schools are not very comfortable in terms of doing retrofits or technological upgrades to conserve energy and water. Thus the core focus of the Eco-Schools programme is on behavioural changes that can help reduce consumption of resource. Over the three years of the programme, Eco- Schools have collectively reduced their water consumption by 12%. Figuratively, this may not be a huge number but for students to take the lead and come up with simple mechanisms means they are learning to think critically and come up with simple yet profitable solutions.

BGREEN: Does this lead to schools themselves adopting green practices like energy efficient lighting, water recycling and the like?
One of our key messages to schools is that while they may find it useful to do retrofits or install energy saving LED lamps, they don’t have to rush into that. We advocate a more practical approach wherein if at any point of time, for example, they have to replace a damaged light bulb, they could do that with an energy-efficient lights like LED, should they have the finances. If not they could opt for the CFLs. We have also had a very interesting case in a government primary school where they don’t waste even a single drop of grey water from their wash basins. Instead of installing additional plumbing, they trained their janitors to collect the grey water in huge buckets and channel the same into their gardens. In schools, change is certainly taking place but in a gradual way.

BGREEN: EHS-Trakhees has played a pioneering role, from a regulatory standpoint, in spreading sustainability message in the UAE. What were some of the challenges encountered in that journey?
P R Jagannathan:
In October 2007, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai issued a resolution late 2007 that effective from 2008, all constructions in Dubai would be aligned to green principles. At that time, Trakhees- EHS was in the final stages of creating its own green building regulations. These regulations came into force effective January 2008 for all new constructions within the Ports, Customers and Free Zone Corporation/Dubai World jurisdiction. Compliance with these green building regulations was mandatory to obtain an NOC for building permit. This mandatory framework continued through the global economic slump and recovery. As of this day, there are nearly 70 LEED certified new constructions in Dubai of which nearly 70% are from our jurisdiction.
The challenges were several and multifold – the property developers and clients were generally clueless about green buildings per se and the role of such buildings on the environment. But they knew that under the mandatory framework, they couldn’t get the building permit without complying with the green building regulations and obtaining the clearance from Trakhees-EHS. The challenges with the consultants were several. They used to visit our office with a letter of undertaking to comply with all the regulations and were expecting the NOC and the building permit based on that document. This essentially meant that they undertake to comply with the requirement after obtaining the building permit whereas the very purpose of a regulatory review process is to ascertain and make sure that the proposed project fully complies with the green building regulations in terms of robust designs. We were of the strong opinion that sustainability should commence right at the design stage for maximised returns and cannot be left behind to be compensated at later stages.
Once the building is issued with a building permit, the entire focus would be on hitting the ground and proceeding with the construction works rather than looking into incorporating green designs. Hence, such letter of undertakings, notwithstanding the genuine intentions would not help green buildings. We discouraged it right from the beginning and set on the most challenging task of incorporating robust procedures, strong guidelines and other mechanisms to facilitate and encourage the adoption of green buildings and meaningful design submissions; they sharply focussed on matters that are of key importance to the region such as energy and water. Accordingly, important design elements such as energy modelling reports, heat load calculations, water efficiency design predictions, envelope features and overall design consistency were insisted (made a must) and meticulously checked by the review team. These parameters were required to be locked and sealed from a design point of view so that if the contractor follows the designs, the building can expected to be reasonably compliant in the construction phase as well. On the same yardstick with operational measures and awareness, it can expect to perform to the extent of what was committed. What worked for us, in my view point, was making green buildings mandatory. Through strong reviews, we have managed to substantially reduce the gaps on the design compliance front. The stakeholders are aware of what exactly has to be done to achieve green design. The challenge has now shifted to construction and operation/postoccupancy phases.

BGREEN: What would be the challenges in the construction and operation/postoccupancy phases?
There is an enormous awareness gap. Notwithstanding the green design and construction, we cannot say with assurance that all the certified buildings are performing as per the original predictions. This is not only a regional issue but a global one as well. It is important that post-handover from the contractor and the consultant, the building must behave ‘green’. First and foremost, the client or the investor and his Facility Management (FM) team needs to understand that the facility that they have inherited is a sustainable building (green building) and accordingly, requires a different set of approach, both technical and behavioural. Likewise they need to be aware that they deserve to derive the benefits of such a building in return for their investments. With this philosophy, they should start demanding the performance. However, in its absence, it would continue to be a property of neglect just like any other building.
Very often, they come to know that measurement and verification is mandatory only after they come to us for an official fitness renewal. There are so many parameters in the operational phase that may completely shift the engineering design estimate so those things have to be factored and calculated again. On the other hand, if the client is aware of the facility, he does not need to wait for regulatory intervention. Rather, he would lead the sustainability efforts in order to get the benefits and return on the investment. At the end of the day, without the full involvement and commitment of management, sustainability cannot become embedded into the corporate DNA. Moreover, sustainability should be incorporated to the extent that it makes a good economic proposition. Sustainability without direct / indirect profitability may lead to green washing.

Nayar: Are LEED certifications permanent? Jagannathan: Initially, LEED gave certificates that didn’t have a validity period. But here, I would like to make a point that we shouldn’t have an obsession towards an international rating system. Whether it is New York or Dubai, all we are talking about is energy, water, waste, operations and behavioural change.

Al Zubi: While this is a good point, what is the solution? Even within the region, we have multiple green building standards, locally developed as well as international.

Jagannathan: Within Trakhees- EHS jurisdiction, you will find mostly commercial and office buildings, residential and warehouse developments. From our discussions with stakeholders, business units and clients, we realised that it is harsh to impose LEED regulations on a warehouse development which has a different nature of usage such as a large storage area with a very small conditioned space (say 100 m2 of air conditioning). So we started developing EHS In-House green building regulations for warehouses, targeting envelope, energy, lighting, controls and water. Instead of leaving it to consultants to mix and match and do the modelling, we prescribed in detail what needs to be done from basic engineering to design to operation. The same approach was adopted for villas as well.

Al Zubi: We have considered coming up with our own green building standards. The issue is when you are trying to build a business case. We have a standalone energy policy supporting the green building policy because energy consumption is a key issue.

Sarfraz Dairkee: In EGBC, when we started in 2004-05, we realised that there were multiple green building rating systems. But there is a difference between imitation and adaptation; what we wanted to do was adapt because only that enables you to get to the root of the matter. For example, then and now, LEED has two credit points for water efficiency. But in the case of the UAE, we found that energy and water have a strong nexus – every m3 of water is equal to 5-5.5 kWh of energy. At that time, we realised that one of the key issues to look at, from a sustainability standpoint is water. Probably, we were ahead of time when we proposed threeline plumbing system to collect and re-use the grey water. Again, in this region, cooling accounts for majority of the energy consumption. So we tried to look into various aspects of air conditioning – for example, in those days, the emphasis was on air-conditioning the building. But it is not the building which needs air-conditioning; rather, it is human beings who need air-conditioning. The moment you adopt this approach, your entire design philosophy changes. Even today, a very large percentage of green building compliance remains a ritual. As long as it remains a ritual, you will never solve the problem. If you try to apply the same solution, you will get the same results. You cannot expect different results with the same solution. It only adds to the costs with very little value addition. To have the value addition, you have to ask what sustainability means to you.

BGREEN: With the Eco- School programme, did you have to face difficulties in adapting a concept developed elsewhere to local conditions?
The good thing about Eco-schools framework is that it is completely malleable. The framework can be tailored to local requirements.

Dairkee: With schools, you don’t have to deal with ‘unlearning’ either.

BGREEN: How did Majid Al Futtaim Properties navigate through the web of multiple green building rating systems?
Al Zubi:
Across our portfolio, we have hotels, big malls, community malls and community developments. We have mall assets in different countries with different climatic conditions. The fact we have sustainability policy, that sustainability is part of our organisation’s DNA is 50% of the job done. From experience, we found that it is easier to achieve LEED for malls and new-build hotels and EarthCheck for existing hotels. For multi-storied, in this case the Waterfront City project in Lebanon, we did gap analysis between LEED, BREEAM and Lebanon Green Building Council’s ARZ Rating System. Unfortunately, ARZ is for existing buildings but we are supporting them to develop standards for new-builds. Recently, we carried out a gap analysis study for old standards and credits. Over the last two years, we have been training our project managers and development managers in all green building standards including LEED and BREEAM. I did this, not only to save money on green building consultants, but to help our team know which credits to choose and raise awareness internally. All over the world, building standards are developed by industry associations, USGBC being a great example. If EGBC came up a national green building standard for the UAE, I would find it easier to follow; similarly, I would prefer to follow the Lebanese Green Building Council’s standards in Lebanon.

Dairkee: Even with green building standards in place, a green outcome cannot be guaranteed. It is important to internalise the truth and adapt it. The solution to our kind of challenge is understanding what the critical thing is. You cannot define it and the moment you do so, it becomes very static. It is a moving object in the sense that your truth will not be my truth. I believe that every building has its distinct personality. Unless we address that, it won’t respond to our likes and dislikes. To know that, we have to identify the owner’s project requirements. The owner himself needs to be aware of the possibilities, dreams and aspirations and define them.

Al Zubi: For aspirations to be translated into action, you still need to give a design brief, look at the spreadsheets, put in the investment.

Jagannathan: The confusion about multiple green building standards and regulations is an issue for consultants. If it is EHS-Trakhees, it is mandatory regulation; if it is Sharjah, there is none; if it is Abu Dhabi, there is the mandatory One Pearl; if it is Dubai Municipality, there is none until next year. In fact, Dubai Municipality’s Green Building regulations were initially applicable to government buildings from 2011; from 2014, they will be extended to the private sector as well. The way I see it, at least in Dubai, we have multiple stakeholders like Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (DEWA), Dubai Municipality, Dubai Carbon Centre of Excellence and EGBC active in green building movement. There are lot of synergies to be gained by working together. Perhaps, the government can play an important role. Typically, when a goal is set and policy created, the policy should have legal backing and enforced through regulations. Policies help identify priority strategies, regulations and programmes. The programmes would have different time frames, resources, measurable metrics and reporting mechanisms. However, if you have a good technical team who are convinced that a particular approach will get them 18% in energy savings, then it doesn’t really matter whether you have a government regulation or not; what matters is that you are saving energy and water, and that should be the key focus. What the government school achieved by collecting grey water and re-using for landscaping is a much more effective than investing in sophisticated grey water systems. Sometimes, a low cost practical approach that delivers quantifiable savings is preferable over savings promised on paper.

Al Zubi: While a green building code or energy labelling may not be necessary to start saving on energy and water, the challenge is in communicating these savings with stakeholders. We invested in a third party auditor to ensure that our data is proper and correct. We had to do our own benchmarking for the last three years, and it is a lot of hard work. Everyone in the room will agree that you cannot manage something that you cannot measure. We need to benchmark, collect data; we need a platform and a framework. We are benchmarking our assets through GRESB (Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark). You need a benchmarking framework to see if you are doing well. This will also makes it easy to communicate the technical aspects to the top management. I feel that EGBC can play an important role here.

Jagannathan: While one should not be discouraged by the absence of a benchmarking framework in Dubai, its absence is indeed a barrier for those who would like to assess their performance vis-a-vis others. How will we know what is the energy intensity of a villa in Al Quoz compared to a similar one in Jumeirah or what is the energy intensity of a tower on Sheikh Zayed Road compared to a similar tower in TECOM?

Al Zubi: I believe that transparency is a big part of benchmarking and implementing green building standards. We have taken a big step towards that with our annual sustainability report.

Jagannathan: A great example of such transparency on a broad level is one set by the Energy performance of buildings directive in UK which calls the requirement of an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for properties when sold, built or rented and Display Energy Certificate (DEC). While the extent varies within the range of properties, it serves to significantly promote awareness and provide the existing owners as well as potential buyers a complete energy background of the property that they own or planning to own. It also assists in potential tenants in choosing the most energy efficient property.

Dairkee: Enforcement can work only so much. For sustainability to work, it has to come from within. If you are making regulations and you cannot implement them, it is better not to make them at all.

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