The Middle East region faces unique environmental and socio-economic challenges, including hot weather, water scarcity, environmental degradation and an abundance of fossil fuels. Buildings in the Middle East region consume more energy than any other region in the world, mainly due to its hot climatic conditions, extensive use of glass exteriors and heavy reliance on air conditioning. For this reason, in recent years, the building industry in the region has witnessed extensive use of environmentally friendly architecture, sustainable building practices as well as traditional building techniques.
The demand for green buildings in the region is increasing due to high energy prices and the need for reasonable energy efficient solutions. The development of green building in the region has been supported by self-sustaining urban planning, net-zero carbon buildings and a culture embedded in traditional Islamic architecture.
Green buildings have become a top priority for several countries in the region. The number of LEED-registered buildings reached more than 2,500 in 2020, up from 623 ten years ago. Among the various countries in the Middle East, the UAE is ranked among the top 10 countries with LEED certifications. Additionally, among cities with maximum LEED-certified buildings, Dubai ranks third. The United Arab Emirates reported a maximum of LEED-certified projects at 600, leaving behind Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
The market for green building construction in Qatar has seen rapid progress in recent years, as evidenced by the rise of sustainable construction in the country. The country has one of the tallest LEED registered and certified buildings outside the United States.
The Global Sustainability Rating System (GSAS), formerly Qatar Sustainability Rating System (QSAS), is a green building rating system developed by Qatar. The GSAS rating system is one of the most comprehensive as it was developed after extensive analysis of around 40 green building codes around the world. In addition, GSAS has established a stand-alone energy standard for buildings to support the nation’s building energy ratings and address regional sustainability aspects.
The United Arab Emirates is focusing on renovation and net-zero carbon buildings to reduce emissions. The country is committed in the Paris Agreement to reduce GHG emissions. Other initiatives such as UAE Green Agenda 2015-2030, UAE Vision 2021 and UAE Energy Strategy 2050 will also contribute to reducing carbon emissions in the country. Additionally, in 2019, the government pledged to support the Zero Carbon Buildings for All initiative, a global initiative led by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and endorsed by the United Nations Secretary-General. The UAE government is working on a roadmap to achieve net zero carbon buildings by 2050.
To improve the sustainability levels of new construction, the adoption of international green building certifications is increasing. Some of the certifications and regulations adopted in the UAE include Barjeel Green Building Regulations (2019), Dubai Green Building Regulations and Specifications (2011), Al Safat Rating System in Dubai, Estidama Pearl Rating System ( 2010) in Abu Dhabi. Due to these regulations in place, an internal market for green building technologies and materials has developed, further enhancing awareness of green buildings.
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