UAE minister: Urgent need for sustainable methods in construction

His Excellency Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, minister of Climate Change and Environment, also praises UAE progress in LEED adoption

His Excellency Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, minister of Climate Change and Environment, used his opening speech at this week’s Global Alliance for Building and Construction (GABC) Assembly to state there is an urgent need for sustainable methods in the construction sector in the UAE following decades of development.

The GAB) Assembly was hosted by Dubai Land Department (DLD), in cooperation with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) and featured several panel discussions covering important topics such as challenges and opportunities in the area of real estate sustainability in the MENA region. Participating countries presented their successful experiences in this field to disseminate and share knowledge, and promote investment in real estate sustainability as an important part of the green economy.

“Hosting the GABC Assembly confirms the UAE’s global position and leading role in adopting and disseminating solutions to help achieve the concept of sustainability across all sectors,” said Dr Al Zeyoudi, pointing out that in line with the UAE 2021 vision, achieving environmental leadership for sustainable development requires raising the efficiency and effectiveness of all sectors, especially the construction sector. According to global statistics, the construction sector accounts for 30% of greenhouse gas emissions associated with energy, while also producing about 40% of waste and consuming 12% of water resources.

He added: “These facts are of particular importance in the UAE given the past four decades of unprecedented urban and cultural development, as well as the growth in the population by two to three times. In light of this progress, there is an urgent need to follow more sustainable methods in the building and construction sector.”

Despite his call for action he noted that the directives of the UAE’s wise leadership have led to the adoption of a number of important sustainability measures over recent years, including the development of long-term national strategies such as the National Plan for Climate Change 2017-2050 and the Green Agenda 2030 to ensure the country is moving toward green growth. He added: “Laws and regulations for green buildings, specific standards for machinery and a tariff system have been established to ensure the effective use of electricity and water. As a result, the UAE now ranks among the top 10 countries other than the USA in terms of numbers of buildings with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certifications.”

He explained that as part of its ‘Shaping the Future’strategy, the UAE has begun to establish sustainable cities such as Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, which include specialised research and development facilities, sophisticated business environments, residential complexes equipped with state-of-the-art technology, and modern and traditional architectural designs, while relying on renewable energy resources. The Sustainable City in Dubai is another example of a self-contained complex that produces its own solar energy to power homes, offices and other facilities, while further cutting energy consumption with energy-saving devices. The Sustainable City is also the first completely car-free city that features a number of organic farms.

The Global Alliance for Building and Construction is an initiative resulting from the Paris Convention on Climate Change and the Convention (COP21). The GBAC assembly meetings were attended by more than 75 delegates representing over 50 member countries and many international organisations such as the International Energy Agency, the World Green Building Council and the UNEP.  Dubai was chosen to host the meeting following a vote held between the member states during the climate change meeting in Germany, which took place in November 2017. Other host countries in the running were China and Germany.

DLD, with the support of MOCCAE, represents the real estate sector and sustainability in this international alliance, which is aimed at reducing carbon emissions from the building, construction and real estate sectors.

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