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UAE requires incentives to achieve real sustainability, say construction industry leaders

Construction industry leaders voice a need for regulations and incentives to advance sustainability in the country

| | May 18, 2017 | 12:02 pm
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Following the discussions at a roundtable on sustainability, construction industry leaders have voiced a need for incentives or penalties to accelerate efforts towards sustainability in the country. The event was organised by iHC and hosted by Curtin University in Dubai on May 16.

The industry leaders, who participated in the panel discussion introspecting the issue of sustainability, felt there was a lack of economic incentives for buildings to be either designed or retrofitted with sustainability measures.

Citing a common roadblock in sustainability growth, Alex Davies, Managing Director of Emrill Integrated Facilities Management, said: “A major problem with including real sustainability features into commercial or residential properties is the payback in terms of efficiency savings, which usually takes longer than five years. This period is way too long to be an influencing factor for most investors in this part of the world, but if there were more of an incentive provided to fill this gap, it would give sustainability a better chance.”

Elaborating on the need for greater involvement in sustainability efforts, Daniel Adkins, CEO of Global Institute Middle East (academic partner of Curtin University Dubai), explained an added problem comes from a lack of demand from end-users in the UAE for sustainable buildings. “Those buying properties should be the driving force for more sustainable buildings, and they need to be educated more in this respect to create the demand that will, in turn, make implementing sustainable measures more attractive for developers,” he said.

Differing from other view points on the need for a sustainability standard, David Lessard, Director of Cities+Sites of Perkins+Will, said: “While I don’t feel a standardisation of sustainability standards is necessarily imminent nor crucial, we are headed that way and will achieve this in a fairly organic method. If we had standardised criteria for sustainability across all new-builds, that would, indeed, not only create a basic level of future sustainability in the region, but it would also facilitate the holistic approach from master planning to end user. Whether a building is temporary or permanent, we all will be using the same book, which would, in turn, alleviate communication issues throughout the process.”    

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