GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Title of Paper:
Sustainability Assessment for Residential Real Estate: A Study of the Application of Sustainability Rating Systems With Specific Reference to Masdar City
Paper Proposal Text :
Research Question:
Sustainability is not just another trend; it will trigger the fundamentals of new age living in the Middle East. Due to climatic conditions, UAE is one of the largest consumers of energy and water per capita on the planet, and buildings account for 70% of this consumption. With the property market booming, and the government heavily subsidizing utilities (ranging between 55-90% of the electricity bill and 79-100% of water consumption as of 2015), the UAE expenses for these subsidies were $17 billion in 2014, or 12% of total expenditure. In these conditions, aiming for more resource-efficient consumption in the residential sector seems unavoidable, and the first subsidy-decreasing initiatives were undertaken in early 2015.

Globally due to new green policies and increasing concerns about the environment among the general public, the real estate sector is becoming more committed to addressing sustainability issues. Sustainability assessment (SA) is crucial for driving the housing sector towards green building. The variety of regulations in different countries require developers to deliver green building through building codes and SA tools, at the same time certain developers are applying voluntary SA tools to indicate their green credentials. This thesis aims at identifying issues that determine the efficiency and issues of SA tools and the role they play in driving customer demand and awareness. So, focus is laid on identifying measurements, which can become drivers for sustainable housing for developers and real estate market participants by, among other approaches, interviewing experts and recording their opinions about SA tools’ role and constraints.

Methodology: A classification and comparative analysis of SA tools have been carried out. An empirical case study on the sustainable project - Masdar City - has also been presented. Interviews have been conducted with experts from Abu Dhabi.

Findings: As a result of the analysis of the SA tools and the interviews, this paper reveals that for the residential sector both building assessment and community assessment play a role; this includes energy focused ratings and endorsement certifications, such as PassivHaus. The use of essential metrics such as energy and water consumption and embodied carbon footprint is not identified within the adopted tools and their necessity is discussed. In contrast to global voluntary LEED and BREEAM tools, localized tools such as Estidama could be more influential if government-driven. A consumer focused adaptation of the current tools and novel instruments are suggested. The case study has provided new insight into the importance of SA tools for the residential sector and sustainable cities.

Value: This work is keen on making a contribution towards bridging the sustainability assessment and needs of residential real estate. It summarizes, classifies and compares related sustainability assessment tools. The research will elucidate issues and will fill the gaps in current debates regarding the development and application of the SA tools and their role for the sector and consumers.

Key words: green building, green building ratings, Estidama, sustainability assessment tools, sustainable homes, residential real estate, Masdar City