Tag Archive | "EWS-WWF"

Stay Green

An increasingly environment conscious consumer base is helping to persuade hotel brands to adopt sustainable practices. Here is a whistle stop guide for the greenest activities in the region, by Melanie Mingas

Kempinski Hotel Ajman
KREEN solar panel project

Unveiled in November 2012, the solar panel system at Ajman’s first five star hotel produces enough power to heat 30,000 litres of water every day and will reduce up to 140 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.
Pioneered through a JV called KREEN, the project is the result of a partnership between Kempinski Hotels, Stadtwerke Mainz (public corporation, AAA rating) based in Germany, and Marshfield Energy based in Switzerland.
Mr. Ulrich Eckhardt, Kempinski regional president, MEAI, said, “Kempinski was the first company to bring a luxury hotel to Ajman. Now we are the first company to bring sustainability to the forefront of our hotel operations here in Ajman through this new solar project, the recycling of wastewater for landscaping, as well as several other sustainability initiatives underway in the hotel.”

TDIC
Saadiyat Dune Protection Zone

More than 60 volunteers from The St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort helped to transplant 2000 plants to enhance the vegetated dune areas on the seaward side of the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club pathway, restoring the dunes and helping to cultivate local wildlife.
Forming a Dune Protection Zone, the newly vegetated areas will enhance the beach, and in turn further increase the nesting habitat for the critically endangered Hawksbill Turtles, which return here to nest every year between April and July.
This activity forms part of TDIC’s ongoing commitment towards sustainability and environmental best practice.
St Regis Saadiyat GM, John Pelling, said: “Last year we had one turtle nesting site immediately in front of the hotel. It was very exciting to learn that about 100 new hatchlings made their way towards the sea.
“We take some key precautions to ensure the stretch in front of our resort is conducive to these endangered species during the nesting season as we believe the islands beauty lies in the fact that it is natural, and we are keen to play our part in maintaining its pristine beach.”

Hyatt Hotels
Choose Wisely

The overall number of commercial fish in the country has declined by 80% in the last 30 years.
In the UAE, 60% of the total catch is made up of species that are fished beyond sustainable levels, and eight of the most valuable commercial fish are being overexploited including Shaari, Farsh and Kanaad. Hamour, otherwise known as Orange-spotted Grouper, is fished at over seven times the sustainable level and is the most overfished species in the country.
Hyatt Hotels’ five star properties across Dubai and Abu Dhabi collaborate with the EWS-WWF to pioneer adoption of the Choose Wisely campaign, integrated throughout F&B outlets in the UAE to ensure that fish is sustainably sourced.
The hotels’ restaurants will create special sustainable fish dishes using sustainablelisted local fish as defined by the Choose Wisely consumer guide.
“The programme is focussed on sourcing and providing F&B options that are good for Hyatt guests and associates, good for the planet, and good for local communities,” said John Beveridge, Area Director for Hyatt Hotels & Resorts in Dubai and GM of Grand Hyatt Dubai.
“The Choose Wisely initiative fits well within our food philosophy and highlights our commitment to healthy people, a healthy planet and healthy communities.”
The overall number of commercial fish in the country has declined by 80% in the last 30 years.
In the UAE, 60% of the total catch is made up of species that are fished beyond sustainable levels, and eight of the most valuable commercial fish are being overexploited including Shaari, Farsh and Kanaad. Hamour, otherwise known as Orange-spotted Grouper, is fished at over seven times the sustainable level and is the most overfished species in the country.

Bin Majid Beach
Hotel Go Green

Guests at the Bin Majid’s four UAE properties who do not require daily replacement of in-room amenities and linens are presented with a vouchers to use against purchases in the hotel. The group hopes to spur neighbouring properties to initiate similar campaigns.
Bin Majid Group GM Dr Ali Kasapbashi, said: “We are pleased to announce that we have initiated a Go Green concept in support of a sustainable hospitality industry. Hotels can play a major role in changing the culture of waste in the UAE so we are doing our best to help protect the environment and sustain its natural resources for the present and future generations.”
The “Go Green” campaign is aimed at creating awareness on the importance of protecting the environment and sustaining its natural resources for the present and future generations

The Westin
Food to Fertiliser

Within 10 hours, Westin Abu Dhabi can transform the 225kg of food waste produced daily into 93% organic fertiliser, in the form of a dry, high grade product that is approximately one third of the waste’s original weight.
Using the waste from six restaurants and the staff cafeteria,this fertiliser is then used across the resort to feed bedding plants, grass areas, trees, herbs and vegetable gardens, reducing the carbon footprint associated with transportation of waste materials off site.
The Korean-built machine facilitating this process does not use any chemicals or degrading agents during the cycle, only heat.
It is currently the only fertiliser machine of this scale and quality in operation in Abu Dhabi, and the only machine in any Starwood EAME property.
By 2020, Starwood Hotels & Resorts aims to reduce energy consumption by 30% and water consumption by 20% across more than 1,100 hotels worldwide.
There are plans to roll this fertiliser from waste food project out to the six Starwood properties in Abu Dhabi turning this into an area initiative.

Onyx Hotels
Plan Bee

Bee populations globally are in a worrying state of decline, but in Bangkok, Onyx Hotels has launched Plan Bee, to save the Asian honeybee (Apis cerana) from extinction. Honeybees are key pollinators in the environment today. It is estimated that one-third of all the food plants we eat depend specifically on bees for pollination.
In spite of the important role bees play in the global food chain and ecosystem, honeybees, as with many pollinators around the world, have come under threat due to a number of factors, including the use of pesticides and planting of genetically-engineered crops, loss of habitat and biodiversity, increases in various pests and diseases due to changing weather conditions, pollution and poor husbandry techniques.
The pledge will make Oriental Residence Bangkok the first serviced residence or hotel with an urban beekeeping initiative in Bangkok. Onyx hope to introduce urban beekeeping to Thailand and beyond, partnering with Raitong Organics Farm to ensure the successful delivery

Ritz-Carlton
People and Planet

While many hotel chains call their sustainable initiatives CSR, Ritz- Carlton has made a pledge to both nonbusiness commitments, by using the money saved by the implementation of sustainable initiatives, to fund CSR work in local communities.
The work is pioneered by former HR director, Sue Stephenson who relocated from the UK to US work for Ritz-Carlton in 1991.
In 2006, Stephenson assumed the leadership of The Ritz-Carlton social responsibility programme, Community Footprints®. Reporting to the president and COO, Hervé Humler, she is charged with expanding the company’s global efforts through a series of multi-faceted initiatives focussed on child wellbeing, hunger and poverty relief, and environmental responsibility.

Comment
Globally Green

As part of its commitment to sustainable development, Swissôtel Hotels & Resorts release its first public sustainability report Q4 2012, revealing that since 2009 the group has achieved: 11 % reduction in water consumption per guest night; 13 % reduction in CO2 per guest night; and 13 % reduction in energy consumption per guest night.
On a monthly and annual basis, Swissôtel reports the performance of more than 100 environmental KPIs, which are consolidated and analysed by the corporate office. Sustainability teams at all hotels ensure the corporate strategy is implemented, with consideration given to local regulations, cultures and practices.
“For us, being sustainable isn’t about the things you say, but the things you do”, says Meinhard Huck, president Swissôtel Hotels & Resorts. “It is our goal to be clear and honest in the communication of our objectives, goals and performance and we welcome dialogue with all our partners, guests and team members. With the release of this sustainability report we have achieved another important milestone.”

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Eco-friendly coasts make a mark

Set up by Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) to protect and develop beaches and marinas around the world, the Blue Flag programme is a widely accredited initiative that is increasingly spreading in the UAE since 2009. Lorraine Bangera reports

Emirates Wildlife Society in association with WWF (EWS-WWF), the programme’s national coordinator, awarded to 12 new beaches and marinas the Blue Flag in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Moaz Sawaf, Blue Flag project manager, said: “With UAE as an example of increasing numbers of beaches and marinas being awarded, we encourage even more beach and marina operators in the country to apply for and work towards the Blue Flag.”
Recognised world-wide as a symbol for coastal excellence, the UAE can now boast of a total of 24 Blue Flags across the emirates. To be awarded a Blue Flag, there are 32 criteria for beaches and 24 criteria for marinas to be met covering four major areas including: environmental education and information, water quality, environmental management, safety and services.
Moaz Sawaf, Blue Flag project manager said: “Blue Flags are awarded every season. They are reassessed and reviewed (annually) to ensure standards are adhered to and maintained. The first 12 Blue Flag beaches have consistently met the standards by fulfilling the strict criteria.
One of the major benefits of attaining a Blue Flag accreditation includes attracting tourists. Sawaf said: “International tourists are more likely to be visiting a Blue Flag hotel because they can be confident that the beach is clean and environmentally-friendly.”
While residents visiting the coast also benefit by learning more about coastal sustainability. “One of the Blue Flag criteria is for the Blue Flag beach to hold five environmental education activities each year that help in raising the awareness level among the public community,” he added.
The UAE is one of the only countries in the region that has an established Blue Flag programme. According to Sawaf, even though there is an interest in GCC countries, so far there have been no Blue Flag National operators in those countries to run and monitor the programme.

The newly awarded sites in Abu Dhabi include:

• Al Bateen Marina

• The Club beach

• Saadiyat Island beach

• Lagoon beach

• Phase 2 beach

• Hilton beach

• Le Meridien

• Desert Islands on Sir Bani Yas
The newly awarded sites in Dubai include:

• Jumeirah Beach Hotel Marina

• Jumeirah Beach Hotel beach

• Le Royal Meridien beach

• Sheraton Dubai Jumeirah

• Beach Resort beach

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BGreen Awards 2013 finalists revealed.

The shortlist for the region’s leading sustainability awards next week have been revealed.

There are 11 categories for the BGreen Awards 2013 which will be held at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel in Dubai on Thursday November 28.

There are three finalists in each category.

Most Sustainable Small or Medium Business,
The award aims to recognise the SME, which demonstrated a positive and clear sustainability strategy, especially those that made an early effort to adopt green policies.

Genesis Manazil Steel Framing
The Green Office Company
Union paper mills

Best Waste Management Company
This special award sought to identify high levels of waste management and sustainability while ensuring minimum disruption to the surrounding environment.
Bee’ah
Dulsco
Imdaad

Most Sustainable Government Department
This award seeks to recognise a department that makes sustainability a top priority and passes that message to employees and the wider population of the UAE.
DEWA, the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority
Dubai Municipality
Emirates Transport

Sustainable Lighting Project of the Year
This category is for the projects in the region that have the most sustainably designed lighting plans. Taking into consideration energy-efficiency, design and overall quality.
iGuzzini (lighting architects)
Lietcorp Middle East
Philips Lighting Middle East

Green Building Project of the Year
This award will recognise the project which has taken the most steps in ensuring the construction and successful establishment of a green building.
The Change Intiative building in Barsha.
The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority headquarters at Al Quoz
And the Standard Chartered Bank by Brookfield Multiplex in Downtown Burj Khalifa.

The Sustainable Supplier of the Year
All three of these nominees met the criteria for a supplier, which had committed significant resource to meet the sustainability requirements for its product.
BASF
KONE
Unibeton

Most Sustainable Non-Government Organisation
This category acknowledges the NGO which has helped increase awareness on environmental issues throughout the region.
The Clean Energy Business Council
Emirates Green Building Council
EWS-WWF

Energy Efficiency Project of the Year
Dubai Municipality (nominated by Philips)
Green Energy Solutions
Pacific Controls System

Contractor of the Year Award
Al Tayer
Arabtec
Brookfield Multiplex

Special Recognition for International Participation
To be announced on the night

Most Sustainable Large Corporation
This award acknowledges a large enterprise which has significantly transformed and adapted new a new business strategy in order to become more sustainable.
Du
Interface
Unibeton

 

 

 

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Sustainability Network expands to over 50 members

With a new member, AGL Coca-Cola joining in, the Sustainability Network’s membership has gone up to 51 companies. Two of the members – Tristar and Majid Al Futtaim Properties – who have recently produced Sustainability Reports talk about the challenges and benefits of reporting on their company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) and share their reporting journey in this issue.

As a Sustainability Network member, the Chalhoub Group is featured for its Gift of Giving Campaign during Ramadan when the company distributed 12,000 plus backpacks made of 100% recycled plastic bottles to 6,000 plus underprivileged students in the UAE and region reinforcing the link between education and environmental responsibility.

In its ‘Sustainability Network Interview Series’, the newsletter features Mr. Simon Webb, Managing Director of AF Carillion who talks about his company’s strong commitment to health and safety and its impact on the quality of people’s lives as well as their approach to embedding responsible business practices.

The newsletter covers Engage Dubai’s new community partners including Growing Leaders Foundation (GLF), Skyline University College and Stepping Stones while the Dubai Chamber Sustainability Directory shares the story of a Sustainability Network member (National Bank of Abu Dhabi) and company (BiteRite) working together to deliver healthy meals at the Bank.

Also, the newsletter covers the Climate Change seminar which the Centre for Responsible Business (CRB) organised in collaboration with EWS-WWF and carries an article on Marketplace Leadership in the Dubai Chamber CSR Label framework as well as new case studies from the CSR case study bank. CRB established in 2004 by Dubai Chamber, fosters corporate integrity promoting Dubai as the region’s gateway for global commerce by promoting transparency and rule of law. It is the leading centre of expertise in business ethics and corporate social responsibility in Dubai.

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Children make the future happen now

Ajita Nayar, heading the education programmes at the EWS-WWF, talks about the importance of education for sustainable development

Since the United Nations declared 2005 – 2014 as the decade for ‘Education for Sustainable Development’, the subject has been a leading topic in schools. Contrary to the traditional way of teaching, education for sustainable development means adopting a more holistic approach to education with the aim of creating a better world for this generation and future generations of all living things on planet Earth. This allows every child to acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values necessary to shape a sustainable future. The initiative is not only about being environmentally-friendly; it also involves developing lifeskills including leadership, communication and management; all of which are extremely important for personal development. By equipping young people with these relevant capabilities in addition to their environmental knowledge, they can excel at living lives which not only further humanity, but that care for and respect the planet’s resources too. People tend to view development as an essential and normal process, but when this process becomes increasingly dependent on over-exploitation of our natural resources, the replenishment of these reserves and supplies is affected – and managing this imbalance assumingly demands a slightly different school of thought. One way to cultivate this mind-set in our youngsters is by encouraging sustainable lifestyles through education for sustainable development. Living sustainably is about changing our attitudes in a way that helps transform our lives into something that doesn’t impact too heavily while using the planet’s resources in moderation. Education for sustainable development incorporates key environmental challenges like climate change into core subjects like math, science and art, and involves modifying the teachinglearning process to a more allencompassing approach. When this type of education is adopted, students are able to relate what they learn in the classroom to their real life actions, and will be in a better position to take the lead in changing behaviours and adopting sustainable lifestyles. As schools no longer function in isolation, their integration with the world outside has exposed students to different people and cultures, giving them the opportunity to appreciate what the planet offers, while respecting the need to use resources efficiently and responsibly.

Eco-schools
The decade of ‘Education for Sustainable Development’ is already proving popular with thousands of students across the UAE taking part in environmental education programmes; among them are Be’ati Watani and eco-schools UAE, both implemented by EWS-WWF. These two programmes are serving as vital tools for schools to produce environmentally-responsible citizens. One evident example of how environmental education is helping to shape a sustainable future would be how an eco-school in the UAE was recently awarded the Green Flag, a symbol of excellence in environmental performance. These students identified the need for more wall space to spread environmental awareness messages in their school, so they created a massive mobile wall of used cartons piled one above the other. Besides reducing the amount of waste produced in their school and saving school funds, these students put forward the important message within their school community and beyond, of thinking innovatively to make maximum use of available and reusable resources. There are numerous examples that only serve to reiterate the benefits of implementing ‘Education for Sustainable Development’ in schools in the UAE. Students from an eco-school in Ras Al Khaimah encouraged their head teacher to install water dispensers in the corridors and fellow students to bring a reusable bottle to school; saving both money and plastic. The reason these youngsters did this was simple: because of their belief in the need to lower water usage and waste in their school.

Beyond school gates
Concentrating on sustainable development and emphasising it through education can help change our future. Continued support from authorities, appropriate policies and laws, responsible action by individuals and communities, and above all a deep compassion for the planet will together serve to alleviate the global environmental crises we face today. This type of learning goes beyond the school. What a child learns during this process shouldn’t stop there – it must be practiced by the family too. Wise use of water and energy both at home and in the work place must be part of parents’ and care-givers’ natural behaviour. Greater efforts must be put in by families and communities to reduce waste, recycle regularly and opt for public transport to demonstrate the importance to our children of living more sustainably. Our homes and communities can be the ideal platform for children to exercise and experience what they learn in the classroom.

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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?
Nayar:
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?
Jagannathan:
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?
Nayar:
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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