“There is a mountain to climb for individuals, businesses and society as a whole towards a greener, low carbon future”

CRTKL’s Preeti Mogali reckons the built environment must design and implement sustainable projects to protect the planet, improve health and increase resilience

In an exclusive chat with Middle East Construction News (MECN), Preeti Mogali, Associate at CRTKL says that she foresees more regulations being passed by governments globally to force businesses to change, and become more sustainable.

“US President Joe Biden is calling for more stringent regulations with businesses being held accountable for their actions. Additionally, I foresee timelines for Net Zero accelerating and becoming quicker than current targets, with the UAE currently pledging to become Net Zero by 2050,” says Mogali.

Mogali made the comment in reaction to a recent report by the WMO, which said that there’s a 50:50 chance of global temperature temporarily reaching the 1.5-degrees Celsius threshold in five years.

She adds, “The announcement is not surprising but there is positive momentum in the built environment towards Net Zero. Awareness around sustainability is undoubtedly increasing but there is a mountain to climb for individuals, businesses and society as a whole towards a greener, low carbon future. CRTKL has committed to a planet-positive mind-set, implementing industry-leading climate neutral operations since 2020.”

Asked about her thoughts on why greenhouse gases (GHGs) are continuing to rise globally, despite concerted efforts by governments and organisations to limit them, she notes, “While GHG emissions are increasing globally, there are encouraging signs. For example, in 2019 we saw a 12% reduction in figures compared to the 2005 figures in the USA as per the United States Environmental Protection Agency. This follows a trend for developed countries as the UN Climate Change released statistics in 2020 showing that between 1990 and 2018, the GHG emissions of developed countries decreased by 13%.”

“However, while more developed countries are reducing their emissions, developing countries are responsible for 63% of current GHG emissions, according to the Center for Global Development. Every country in the world must transition towards Net Zero for the change to be effective. There are different parties involved and everyone needs to come together, so it can be achieved faster. CRTKL is ahead of the curve and was an early signatory of the AIA 2030 challenge, reporting since 2009 at its inception, making significant strides in the Net Zero direction.”

Commenting on what the biggest challenge is with regards to tackling GHG emissions in the built environment, she remarks, “The biggest challenge is reducing reliance on fossil fuels and it is encouraging to see the increased prominence of renewable energy throughout the region. Moving forward, we must design buildings that do not require as much energy.”

At Big Project Middle East’s recent Energy & Sustainability Summit, a panel discussion looked at the major interdependencies between the energy sector, the built environment and the transport and mobility sector, and discussed the opportunities, risks and recommendations for each to drive the Net Zero agenda forward. Another session also examined what it means to be carbon neutral as a construction company.

She notes that CRTKL has pledged all projects will be climate positive for operation by 2030 and including materials by 2040. “We are committed to a more sustainable future with projects, inspired by ecology, designed for people to live full, healthy lives with a minimal environmental footprint,” she points out.

Pressed about whether there is enough awareness about the built environment’s impact on the environment in terms of its GHG emissions, Mogali explains, “The built environment continues to be a significant challenge in the climate change crisis with buildings being responsible for 40% of GHG emissions. As architects, we create life and we want to contribute to the environment positively as by 2060 the building footprint is forecast to double, as per the World Economic Forum.”

She continues, “There is enough awareness on social and environmental sustainability in the industry but on average it takes 3-to-8% more from the initial upfront costs for a client to achieve a green building. Sustainability must be embedded to ensure awareness on the advantages of long-term social responsibility. As we build back better and support long-term growth, the built environment must design and implement sustainable projects to protect the planet, improve health and increase resilience. As an example, retrofitting buildings as a solution can ensure up to 30% saving on energy consumption with green certified buildings bringing economic savings to owners and environmental savings for the planet.”

Earlier, KEO’s Ioannis Spanos told MECN that reducing GHG emissions in the built environment requires a coordinated approach.

Offering a solution in response to a question about how construction industry stakeholders can quickly cut GHG emissions, she says, “The number one quick fix is to reduce wastage on construction sites and reuse materials as better management of precious resources will increase resilience and reduce wastage. In 2021, the UAE cabinet approved the UAE Circular Economy Policy, which supports the private sector in adopting clean methods that spur green development. Eliminating the constant need for construction stakeholders to extract resources and raw materials increases sustainability and reduces the carbon footprint.”

She concludes, “Technological innovations in low-carbon cement can cut three-quarters of GHG emissions in the industry by 2050 with operational advances enhancing sustainable construction significantly. Innovators have already implemented sustainable solutions with timber, a renewable resource that produces fewer GHG than other construction options, a nature-centric design increasing in prominence regionally. Heavy polluting building materials high-emitting building stocks can be repurposed innovatively to conserve energy and tackle GHG emissions in the built environment.”

A circular economy can drive the way forward for sustainable infrastructure according to Dr. Mohamed Nazier, WSP Middle East Managing Director – Transport & Infrastructure.


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