Green Building Standard – Jourdan Younis, Managing Director at Alpin Middle East
Jourdan Younis, Managing Director at Alpin Middle East, gives his view on green buildings in Saudi Arabia and what the Industry Looks Like in 2020
If you’re wondering what green building looks like in Saudi Arabia and where the industry is headed in the future, look no further. You’ll learn exactly what green building in Saudi Arabia is all about (and the rapid changes that lie ahead).
How Saudi Arabia is positioning itself as a leader in green building?
First things first: What is green building? Green building is all about constructing modern buildings that are both environmentally friendly and self-sustaining.
And this is the future of the construction industry. After all, green buildings perform better than other buildings.
As studies show:
Green buildings are rented and sold at higher prices. There’s more commercial interest in green buildings, for example in the form of financing. If implemented in the design stages, green buildings reduce construction costs. Green buildings have lower maintenance costs and save resources like energy and water.
Plus, with the challenges created by global warming, the construction industry, which is one of the world’s most polluting industries, has to come up with more sustainable solutions.
The best part? Developing green buildings doesn’t even have to come at a higher price. Green buildings cost the same or even less than other buildings.
Green building in Saudi Arabia is a relatively new sector. It got its start with the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified building in 2009.
As our Country Manager in Saudi Arabia, Yousef Zakaria, who has seen the change happen in real-time, puts it:
“The industry started around 2008 with the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Jeddah. It was the first LEED-certified project in Saudi Arabia. Since then, other projects started following the same path, although they were limited to government projects.”
But over the past few years, the industry has made big advances. For example, 15% of all green building projects in the Arab world are implemented in Saudi Arabia. The investments that Saudi Arabia makes in green buildings are the biggest of their kind worldwide.
At Alpin, our mission has always been to work for a more sustainable world. For example, we were the first LEED Gold certified project in Masdar City, where we’re headquartered. Our headquarters are also the first WELL certified project in the Middle East.
As green building consultants in Saudi Arabia, we’ve been at the forefront of the change that’s happening in Saudi Arabia. For example, we’ve been involved in projects like the Riyadh metro, SABB headquarters, King Khalid International Airport, the Pepsi Cola Mega plant, Nahdi Warehouse, Asharqia Chamber of Commerce tower and many other projects for Saudi Aramco.
LEED certification in Saudi Arabia
LEED is in a special position in Saudi Arabia because the country has the highest concentrations of Gold and Platinum LEED-certified buildings in the Middle East.
The LEED certification, which is developed by the US Green Building Council (USGBC), is one of the most popular green building certification programs globally. It includes rating systems for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of green buildings, homes, neighborhoods, and cities.
As green buildings in general, the ROI of LEED builds on factors like the energy savings a project achieves and higher building valuations.
Particularly, we’ve seen that there’s clearly more interest in LEED today compared to even a few years ago. For example, the SPARK (ARAMCO) project, which we talk more about below.
What is the future of green building in Saudi Arabia?
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is increasingly focusing on smart and green buildings. With Vision 2030 objectives, mega projects, supporting events, and numerous initiatives by the Ministry of Housing, Saudi Arabia is set to continue growing its green building sector.
The country is currently building a megacity, NEOM, which is a Vision 2030 initiative. The city is planned to be completely powered by renewable energy. Another is Aramco’s King Salman Energy Park (SPARK), which is the first LEED pre-certified industrial city in the world.
King Salman Energy Park (SPARK) is a new mega project developed by Saudi Aramco. SPARK will be a fully integrated city. It’s designed for efficient and sustainable operations in an integrated world-class energy hub.
As GBCI puts it, “It is master planned to seamlessly intertwine an industrial area, dry port and logistics zone, with vibrant residential, educational, and commercial areas. By using an integrative planning and design process, sustainability is embedded in its development from the very first planning phases all the way through completion and management of the project.”
At Alpin, we recently participated in the reception ceremony held by the USGBC in Atlanta, USA during the Greenbuild conference for the purpose of awarding SPARK the LEED pre-certification for cities and communities.
By achieving pre-certification under LEED v4.1 for Cities and Communities: Plan and Design ahead of full certification, the project will share key project details and planning initiatives throughout the development process.
As Yousef puts it: “Certifying cities like SPARK under LEED for cities and communities rating systems will encourage other cities to follow the lead and get LEED-certified as a city.”
As you can see, projects like SPARK will continue to take green building in Saudi Arabia to the next level.