Green building council backs new Dubai ratings system

Saeed Alabbar says Al Sa’fat system will inspire the construction industry to push its own benchmarks

Saeed Alabbar

The chairman of the Emirates Green Building Council (EmiratesGBC) has welcomed Dubai Municipality’s move to introduce a green ratings system, known as Al Sa’fat.

Saeed Alabbar – also the director of AESG, a local sustainability consultancy – said the system was a significant initiative that will strengthen sustainable built environments in Dubai, while also supporting the goal of the Dubai Plan 2021 in creating a smart and sustainable city.

“It builds on the Green Building Regulations and Specifications (GBR&S) for all new buildings in Dubai set by Dubai Municipality in March 2014,” Alabbar told Big Project ME.

“Al Sa’fat is developed based on established green building rating systems in the world, and sets parameters for energy conservation, water efficiency, waste management, and indoor air quality, among others.”

Al Sa’fat, which was announced last week, applies to all types of buildings and is split into four classifications: platinum, gold, silver and bronze. Achieving bronze certification is mandatory for all building owners, investors and developers.

“What makes it effective is that it adopts a performance-approach towards achieving building efficiency, and the methodology behind its criteria has similarities with successful rating systems that have been voluntarily practiced by companies in the region. By mandating the system, we are optimistic that Dubai Municipality can achieve the desired outcomes in terms of enhanced energy, water and resource use efficiency in the future buildings,” said Alabbar.

The new rating system will thus energise the ongoing initiatives to promote sustainable buildings, one of the focus areas of the Emirates Green Building Council. Alabbar also expressed his hopes that the new system would address an industry gap and inspire more building owners and other stakeholders in the construction supply chain to develop green buildings.

He added that the new ratings system would have a knock-on effect as the construction industry would now have a benchmark on sustainable built practices, giving it something to aim for.

“In addition to achieving the mandated standards, they will now be inspired to innovate on their construction approach, including the use of green building materials and systems, to maximise energy and water use efficiency. This in turn will benefit the overall energy supply chain and help manage energy demand and promote alternative energy utilisation,” Alabbar said.

“Both the ongoing and upcoming projects will now explore the provisions – that are already available in the market – to make their buildings greener and efficient. This means, adopting environment-friendly building materials, evaluating their design to incorporate energy saving functions, use energy-efficient lighting solutions, and install efficient water fittings.

“However, it is early to comment on the extent of its impact because Bronze Sa’fat, which is the mandatory rating that any building must achieve, will not influence the current construction projects as they are already based on the mandatory Green Building Regulations & Specifications announced by Dubai Municipality earlier. But what we are optimistic is that, by setting the standards, it will inspire the construction sector to push [its] own benchmarks.”


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