Written by: EGBC
Established in 2006 as an independent forum aimed at conserving the environment by strengthening and promoting green building practices, Emirates Green Building Council (EmiratesGBC) has today evolved as the voice of the green building movement in the UAE. It has rallied together stakeholders across the building industry supply chain for a cause that also reflects the government vision.
“The various activities undertaken by EmiratesGBC complement the ‘green economy for sustainable development’ vision announced by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai,” said Chairman, Saeed Al Abbar. “We are at the forefront in fostering dialogue and tangible action to promote sustainable built environments.”
The success of EmiratesGBC’s activities was evident at the recent Emirates Green Building Council Awards (EGBC 2014), held in June.
Presenting a unique perspective of the advances made by the country in promoting sustainable building practices, the event underlined the increasing focus on localised innovation, whereby green building materials and products are increasingly being introduced and developed within the country.
“The strong participation of regional green innovators and the strong impact of their ideas is a true testament of the tremendous strides that EmiratesGBC has made in a short span of eight years,” explained Mr Al Abbar.
Today, with nearly 200 corporate and individual members from the building industry, EmiratesGBC’s mandate is clear: Create awareness, promote dialogue and initiate action in built environment sustainability, given the fact that the construction sector and buildings contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.
The Focus Days, training sessions, workshops and networking events organised thus promote awareness on green building standards through a multidisciplinary approach that covers the use of building materials, the importance of green building regulations and energy management measures.
Meanwhile, the UAE was also making significant strides in its commitment to promoting sustainable development, with Abu Dhabi and Dubai Municipal authorities outlining their guidelines for green buildings, and the UAE achieving tremendous thought leadership globally with the establishment of Masdar City, and by housing the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency.
All this has further energised EmiratesGBC’s role as “an advisor, a facilitator and a subject thought-leader”.
Setting an example, EmiratesGBC also moved to a new ‘green’ corporate office, and launched the EGBC Awards to honour outstanding work in the area of built environment sustainability. Another significant initiative by EmiratesGBC is its focus on promoting the retrofitting of existing buildings, an area that can make a significant impact on sustainable development.
The Council continues to focus on partnering with governmental and non-governmental authorities as well as academic institutions to influence the implementation of sustainable built environments across the whole supply chain. The Council also serves as the link between the international green building movement and the local industry.
It also facilitates a variety of formal education opportunities as well as being at the vanguard in promoting green building financing by encouraging the different stakeholders to support sustainable projects.
“We have been able to bring together different stakeholders across the supply chain, inspiring them to take tangible action to promote green building practices,” said Mr Al Abbar. “We serve as a platform for dialogue across the region by promoting the World GBC Middle East & North Africa Network – a co-operation between the regional GBCs.”
The positive impact of the Council’s activities are clearly felt today as building industry stakeholders are more open to implementing green building practices – not as an afterthought – but right from planning and design stage. Steps are being taken to incorporate ‘green design’ principles right from site selection and planning to design, development, the materials used and operational stage.
“One of the key challenges before us in the initial days was to strengthen awareness among building owners and developers on the long-term value of sustainable projects,” concluded Mr Al Abbar. “It has taken time but I believe that through the work of the EmiratesGBC, the majority of the industry now sees the significant value in building green.
“We can now confidently say that the UAE is leading by example in the field of sustainable buildings.”