Construction companies in the Middle East are slow to adopt best practice green building standards because they perceive no immediate economic benefits but will put themselves at risk by not doing so, an industry expert has said.
Talik Chalabi, co-principal of Chalabi Architekten & Partner in Austria, said that one of the challenges facing the building industry in the region is to recognise the long term benefits of adopting sustainable green building practices. Minimum efficiency ratings set by governments mean construction companies bear the responsibility to adhere to modern building standards that render a building passable by law.
“Any cost benefit calculation speaks against green building construction in today’s market,” said Chalabi. “New niches, however, are being created at the expense of otherwise outdated products which positions the ‘green approach’ as the conduit to rejuvenate and reshape the building industry.”
“I believe the majority of construction companies perceive the change to green methods currently as a nuisance but they must adapt on the long term or perish. Green building practices serve a function to improve industry standards, raise the bar in terms of quality and above all, protect the community and public interests at large,” he added.
Chalabi’s comments came ahead of his participation in World EcoConstruct, a pioneering industry event set to take place from April 22 to 25 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.
His presentation on April 23 will examine the first buildings to achieve five pearl ratings in the new Estidama Pearl Rating System (PRS) and will highlight the new Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre in Al Ain as an example of maximising economic, social and environmental benefits of complying with green building regulations.
“The Estidama PRS will cause a relatively expensive building standard per sq m but a relatively high sustainability standard of one or two pearls can be achieved through best practice design without exceeding the standard building cost,” Chalabi said.
Wissam Yassine, senior sustainability engineer and UAE national coordinator at the Carbon Initiative, said: “No longer is it the norm to construct buildings that are inefficient, endurable and built with unsustainable material. Achieving minimum sustainability standards is an absolute must and there are definitely cost-effective measures that have a very small payback period.’’