13 Feb

Green Buildings: Transforming Spaces, Businesses, and the Planet

Author: Mohammed Al Dhuhoori, Chief Development Officer, RAKEZ
Published by: Logistics Middle East

In the era of global sustainability and environmental consciousness, the impact of the built environment is at the forefront of discussions. Buildings contribute significantly, being responsible for 36% of global energy consumption and nearly 40% of greenhouse gas emissions. This dichotomy of challenge and opportunity has given rise to the innovative concept of green buildings — structures designed not just to exist, but to integrate seamlessly with the environment, conserve resources, and provide spaces where people can thrive.

Decoding green buildings: more than a financial investment

Green buildings, also known as sustainable or eco-friendly structures, go beyond conventional constructions. They are meticulously designed, constructed, and operated with a core focus on minimising their negative impact on the environment and human health. Their mission is to be resource-efficient, energy-efficient, and environmentally responsible throughout their entire life cycle.

They do this through the use of energy-efficient technologies such as smart building management systems and by using environmentally friendly materials, often locally sourced during the construction phase. Green building practices may also extend to adaptive reuse and historic preservation, contributing to cultural heritage while simultaneously reducing the demand for new construction. The overarching objective is to craft environmentally responsible, resource-efficient, and health-conscious living and working environments.

The statistics underscore the profound impact of the green building sector. According to a new report published by UnivDatos Markets Insights, as of 2023, the global green building market is valued at a remarkable $500 million and is anticipated to grow at a compelling Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 6.4% from 2023 to 2030. This data, reflecting a dynamic market outlook, emphasises the continued financial significance of the industry. Beyond monetary considerations, green buildings play a pivotal role in reducing energy consumption by 25-30%, water usage by 11%, and greenhouse gas emissions by an impressive 34%. These stats derived from various studies, reports, and industry analyses solidify their importance in the contemporary construction landscape.

The UAE's rise in sustainable development

significant strides in eco-friendly development, with a focus on sustainable construction. The country is actively promoting the adoption of green building practices that are well-suited to its unique climate and cultural needs. These efforts are driven by various forward-thinking programs and regulations, which are part of a larger strategy to integrate sustainability into urban planning and construction. Such initiatives emphasize the importance of resource efficiency, reducing the environmental footprint of buildings, and enhancing the overall quality of life.

In cities like Abu Dhabi and Dubai, there are specific regulatory frameworks in place to guide and assess the sustainability of new developments. These frameworks include comprehensive guidelines that cover various aspects of sustainable construction, such as energy use, water conservation, waste management, and maintaining indoor environmental quality. The regulations set forth by these frameworks ensure that new constructions adhere to high standards of sustainability, reflecting the country's commitment to balancing modernization with environmental responsibility.

These initiatives reflect the broader regional shift towards sustainable practices and are a clear sign of the UAE’s collective effort to balance its rapid progress with ecological preservation.

Government initiatives and regional focus: shaping an eco-friendly future

Government initiatives in the UAE and the broader region play a pivotal role in promoting and supporting green building practices. From stringent building codes to incentives for sustainable construction, policymakers are shaping an eco-friendly trajectory. For example, the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) is making strides in sustainable development, with a focus on initiatives that align with the broader UAE vision.

RAKEZ pioneers green building initiatives

Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ) has become the first entity to endorse Ras Al Khaimah's Energy Efficiency and Renewables Strategy 2040. Committing to the implementation of Barjeel, the emirate's mandatory green building regulations. This sets a significant precedent for all upcoming construction projects.

Currently underway in the Al Hamra Industrial Zone, RAKEZ is developing new warehouses and labour accommodation designed in accordance with Barjeel standards. These initiatives not only aim to enhance building efficiency and reduce energy consumption but also anticipate considerable water savings.

The project's impact extends beyond energy and water bills for clients, playing a crucial role in advancing environmental awareness within the business community. RAKEZ plans to host awareness and training sessions for stakeholders, ensuring a smooth transition to compliance.

In tandem with this, RAKEZ has inked a five-year agreement with Smart4Power, a leading energy efficiency solutions provider. This partnership targets a retrofit project covering nine buildings and a district cooling plant, aligning with RAK's energy efficiency and renewable energy strategy. Anticipating a remarkable 38.5% reduction in energy and water consumption, the initiative is poised to deliver annual savings of Dh2.3 million with a payback period of less than four years.

Challenges and the path forward: navigating the road to sustainability

While the benefits of green buildings are evident, challenges persist, notably in the upfront costs of implementing sustainable features, acting as a potential barrier for some businesses. However, the long-term gains far outweigh the initial investment. With support from free zones like RAKEZ, striking a balance between economic feasibility and environmental responsibility becomes significantly more attainable.

Companies embracing sustainability measures during this pivotal moment on the road to sustainability stand to gain increased competitiveness, expanded growth prospects, improved financing opportunities, and enhanced access to global markets. Dubai's role as the host for COP28 not only underscored its commitment to sustainability but also positioned the city as a hub for fostering innovation and industry leadership in the green building sector.

Conclusion: redefining corporate spaces for a sustainable future

In conclusion, green buildings are more than just architectural trends; they serve as catalysts for positive change. The UAE, with its iconic structures and forward-thinking initiatives, showcases the transformative impact of sustainable construction. As businesses increasingly acknowledge the significance of environmental stewardship, green buildings are set to redefine the corporate landscape, providing spaces where businesses can thrive in harmony with the planet. In this era of heightened environmental awareness, these buildings go beyond mere structures; they represent our commitment to a sustainable and flourishing future for both businesses and the environment.


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Last Updated on 12/29/2019 9:23:05 PM

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