GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Title of Paper:
Energy Demand Management through Green Buildings in GCC Countries
Paper Proposal Text :
Managing domestic demand for both fossil fuels and electricity remains a key challenge in a Gulf Cooperation Council region accustomed to abundant and cheap energy supplies. Per capita of fuel and electricity is high in the GCC relative to some other energy-intensive economies like Germany. Blackouts and brownouts are already common during peak demand times and it is increasingly difficult for supply to keep pace with demand of the growing population and expanding economy. Energy subsidies represent an increasing cost for GCC governments as well as growing domestic energy consumption is at the cost of exportable surplus, and governments have realised that the current consumption patterns are not sustainable

Given the current drive towards diversification in construction and real estate as well as infrastructural development, there is great potential in institutionalising energy efficiency and conservation by adopting green building codes. The commercial and residential properties in the region use 225percent more energy than their European counterparts. The residential sector consume up to 47 per cent of total energy consumption in the GCC compared to 25 per cent worldwide. The design of buildings in the Middle East has been predicated on the availability of cheap oil. The result has been heavily air-conditioned buildings absorbing vast amounts of energy. Since the value of oil to the source country is much more important than the cost of buying it at subsidised prices, this is forcing the government to radically redesign its construction industry.

Green Buildings optimise energy efficiency, use less water, , conserve natural resources, generate less waste and provide healthier spaces for occupants. The United States Green Building Council estimates that green building, on average reduces energy use by 30 percent, carbon emissions by 35 percent, water use by 30 to 50 percent, and generates waste cost savings of 50 to 90 percent. The region’s move towards Green Buildings is a comprehensive solution to energy demand management as its water and waste management features also aims to conserve energy consumption in the production of materials and energy intensive water supply. All the GCC nations have already developed their own green building standards through their councils and are actively reviewing and adopting these mandates in the new building laws. The Urban Planning Council and Department of Municipal Affairs has mandated Green building and sustainable infrastructure under the new building codes effective from September 2010 in Abu Dhabi. Green building codes will be mandatory for private sector developers in Dubai from 2014. UAE’s Pearl Rating System, Estidama meaning sustainability in Arabic aim at reducing energy bills by 40 percent in all new residences built across the emirates. The GCC countries also aim at intra-national knowledge sharing, support and cooperation. During the 2010 Saudi First Green Building Forum, Saudi invited GCC countries to adopt the original Qatar Sustainability Assessment System, declaring it a vision attuned to Arab values and cultural mores, and considerate of Gulf climate, geographical aspects, and regional challenges with natural resources. Kuwait signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Qatar’s Gulf Organisation for Research and Develoment outlining their plan to have common effort to implement the standards of the latter’s revamped Global Sustainability Assessment System.
At present the Middle East region has 1,348 LEED-registered green buildings which surpasses all but Asia and the US. The UAE is leading with the maximum number of buildings registered and certified by LEED, while Saudi Arabia and Qatar are not far behind. Some of the prominent green buildings are Masdar in UAE, Qatar Convention Centre, ABN AMRO Bank’s operation offices, UAE, the first LEED Commercial Interiors & the largest LEED Project in the Middle East, Wafi City District Cooling Chiller Plant (DCCP) , Dubai the first LEED Green Building in the Middle East , The Qatar National Convention Center project has an area of 177,000 sq meters and specially designed roof containing 3,600 sqm of solar panels which supplies about 12.5% of the Centre’s total energy needs. The center also include other energy saving features such as LED lighting in the exhibition halls and a special wireless convention management system, reducing the need for paper while providing delegates with free internet access. Energy city, Qatar uses the latest green building technology and will be a modern business and residential facility occupied by a diverse mix of energy related companies, commercial tenants, customers and suppliers.

The GCC has a pipeline of construction projects worth around USD 2,677 billions. The residential market is a strong sector in Saudi Arabia. The demand for residential units is expected to increase due to the young growing population and the new mortgage law. But it is also the industry with the smallest market for local innovations despite its sheer size in the local economy. By leveraging on their role in the market as large clients for construction services, governments in the GCC are in a good position to incentivize investors and developers to engage in knowledge development and transfer in the region. The drive towards green building will be expedited by the growth in business opportunities in green material market. It has been estimated the market for green material in the region earned revenues amounting to $17.91 billion back in 2012 and is projected to reach $22.97 billion in 2016.

This paper seeks to examine the potential and progress of Green buildings in the construction industry of the Gulf region. It would explore the various initiatives the government has taken to incentivize developers of the green building projects. It would have case studies of important green building projects in the region and would examine their strategic energy implications.