Running alongside The Big 5, last month’s Green Build Congress in Dubai gathered some of the region’s key players in the green building movement.
One of the highlights, and certainly the best attended session, was a keynote speech from skyscraper supremo Adrian Smith, partner, AS + GG Architecture.
Speaking on the subject ‘sustainable landmark buildings’, Smith ran through the sustainable elements in his impressive portfolio, including Burj Khalifa and the Kingdom Tower. As a specialist in high rise design, Smith noted that tall towers are now a fact of life. “60 million people a year are moving into urban areas – there is a great deal of pressure on cities to grow and to grow vertically.
“By 2050, it is estimated that 60% of the global population will live in cities. High density is a part of the present and the future. I think it will get even denser as we move into the 21st century.”
He also outlined an upcoming eco project for a hotel which adjoins the famous Willis Tower (former Sears Tower) in Chicago. The hotel contains a solar deck, solar hot water, wind turbines, all integrated into an existing icon.
Accordingly Smith emphasised the need to ensure that existing buildings are energy efficient. “Our immediate aim is to address the existing stock,” he concluded.
The following day was billed as an ‘Action Forum’, which included a six-person panel discussion on the subject of Why are buildings in the Middle East not sustainable enough?
Panel moderator Dr Sadek Owainati, co-founder and board member, Emirates Green Building Council, said: “It is important that there is a commitment to start in the right direction, and a leadership.
“I would ask the government to act as a leader, by actually making the buildings that belong to the authorities become green. The bottom line is to provide better environmental conditions within the building to improve the quality of the air.”
Paul Bierman Lytle, director of sustainability, IMCC Green, said: “The Gulf region can lead the world in demonstrating that sustainability is profitable. We have got to change this myth that to go green is a compromise on culture, on economy and the environment.”
He continued: “We have to find examples that demonstrate profitability. There are very few sustainable communities in the world that can demonstrate this.”
Lytle added that regional governments should give developers an incentive to perform better, such as a rebate.
Ben Piper, senior architect, Atkins, remarked: “One of the real problems in Dubai is the slew of half-finished buildings. They are essentially ruins. There is an opportunity to reinterpret these buildings in an alternative way. I look forward to the time when there are different layers to the city.”
Piper suggested that a long-term commitment to sustainability could be achieved by encouraging permanent stakeholders in the community.
He commented: “Dubai and the Gulf region is a fantastic marketplace for business, for projects and activities. But ultimately many members of that population don’t have the long term stakeholder status.
“The US had highly multicultural origins where people were given stakeholder status in the country, and I think that’s part of its ultimate success.”
Owainati concluded: “This issue of sustainability is so multifaceted, but I would say that we have got to bring in the human scale to our activities, whether it’s in the design or the way we operate these facilities.”