The government should introduce incentives or penalties to push forward sustainability in the UAE, according to construction industry leaders.
A lack of economic incentives for buildings to be either designed or retro-fitted with sustainability measures was a consistent theme among the seven experts that participated at a roundtable on Wednesday.
Alex Davies, managing director of facilities management company, Emrill, said: “A major problem with including real sustainability features into commercial or residential properties, is the payback in terms of efficiency savings usually takes longer than five years.
“This period of time is way too long to be an influencing factor for most investors in this part of the world, but if there was more of an incentive provided to fill this gap, it would give sustainability a better chance.”
Daniel Adkins, CEO of Global Institute ME – Academic Partner of Curtin University Dubai, said 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 building 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.
David Lessard from global architecture firm Perkins+Will added: “While I don’t feel a standardisation of sustainability standards is necessarily imminent nor crucial, we are headed that way and will achieve this is a fairly organic method.
“If we had a standardised criteria for sustainability across all new builds that would certainly not only create a basic level of future sustainability in the region, but it would facilitate the holistic approach from master planning to end user.
“Whether a building is temporary or permanent, we’d all be using the same book which would in turn alleviate communication issues throughout the process.”
Representatives from De Boer, Emrill, Thomas & Adamson, Perkins+Will, AESG and SES joined Curtin University’s CEO at the roundtable which was organised by iHC, an integrated communications agency delivering services to construction-related firms and across other industries.