Is the industry going green?

Traffic jams, air pollution and natural resource depletion are often seen as the inevitable price of progress. That certainly seems to have been the case in the Gulf in recent years; once quiet and relatively clean cities have become congested, noisy and untidy in the face of a construction boom

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By  David Ingham Published  December 2, 2006

|~||~||~|Traffic jams, air pollution and natural resource depletion are often seen as the inevitable price of progress. That certainly seems to have been the case in the Gulf in recent years; once quiet and relatively clean cities have become congested, noisy and untidy in the face of a construction boom.

Should we accept the inevitable price of progress or is there another way? It is a question that troubles governments and authorities around the world.

The current accepted wisdom here in the Gulf seems to be: put up with the disruption for just a few more years, one day soon all the construction will be done and then we can all sit back and enjoy the benefits.

But a growing number of developers and consultants seem to think there might be another way. At a conference in Dubai last month, several speakers said that so-called green buildings may cost more to build, but will cost less to maintain in the long term.

It was also pointed out that Gulf cities have some of the world’s largest ‘ecological footprints’. According to the World Wildlife Fund, every individual in the UAE needs the equivalent of 12ha of productive land to generate the natural resources they consume in a year. The global average is 2.2ha, far above the available supply of 1.8ha per person.

I don’t pretend to be an expert on green buildings, but I do know that there is a lot developers could do to make buildings more energy efficient and improve indoor environmental quality.

When it comes to the crunch, it all comes down to dollars and cents. It is about convincing developers to invest in the short term, for the long-term gain of a society. Can we expect the construction industry to utilise dual flush toilets, photovoltaic mesh and solar air conditioning, of its own accord?

In my opinion, the answer is a resounding no. Developers and contractors are understandably focused on getting buildings done quickly and at the lowest possible cost. If regional authorities do want to reduce our ecological footprint, only legislation and the threat of stiff penalties will force developers and contractors to go green.||**||

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