DUBAI, UAE, 29 April 2020: There is an undeniable shift in consumer demands, said Swapnil Pillai, Research Associate, Savills Middle East, who pointed out that buyers today desire “convenience-driven, technologically connected and sustainable community living”. Truly sustainable communities need to be about more than just the buildings and the use of solar panels,” he said. “They need to take into account the local climate, transport links and internal spaces. It’s important to assess the orientation of the buildings to take advantage of thermal energy, to look at the size of the windows to take advantage of natural light, to use locally sourced products and to reduce carbon emissions in the delivery chain.”
Pillai said that with this shift in consumer consciousness, the long-term advantage of sustainability outweighs any upfront financial implications, plus with the UAE Government’s focus on energy efficiency, it is essential for investors to be on the front foot. “Chiller charges are an area of concern for investors here in the UAE, as a higher chiller charge can negatively impact the return on investment,” he said. “However, sustainable solutions can often be viewed as an additional investment to the property itself and be done in such a way that the solutions have their own commercial value.” Providing an example, Pillai said that further afield, in London, there is increased demand for rentals in sustainable communities, particularly key urban regeneration schemes, such as Battersea Power Station, King’s Road Park, Triptych Bankside and Grand Union, as investors recognise the financial growth offered by such sustainable developments. “These sustainable developments in London can hold valuable lessons for the Middle East region,” he said.
Pillai said that, however, the UAE has taken great strides in terms of infrastructure, pointing out that Dubai Metro’s recent tenth-year anniversary celebration was a testament to the increasing demand for public transport with tunnels and connected walkways. He said, “We would expect to see further use of underground building design that offers climatic insulation and sustainable features in the future.”
Pillai added that even though the supply of sustainable buildings in the region is still at a nascent stage, developments, such as the Sustainable City, in Dubai, are pioneering the concept and setting a benchmark for future developments. “An increasing number of developers,” he said, “are now trying to incorporate some element of sustainability either into the design or the raw materials used.”