The greatest obstacles to sustainable buildings were debated in a heated panel discussion at the Construction Week: Building Sustainability into the Middle East Conference 2012.
Moderated by Kirk Rosenbaum, senior commissioning manager, KEO, the talk was entitled ‘Delivering Change – Making Cities and Towns Sustainable’.
Saeed Alabbar, director, AESG, stated that the lack of transparent data is a key obstacle. He said: “LEED [certification is not necessarily enough] as the building may consume more energy than [a non-certified building]. The data isn’t there. We need consumption per square metre and per occupant.”
Joseph Colagiovanni, partner, Fulbright & Jaworski, argued: “A large portion are unwilling to share the data as it is unflattering.”
Alabbar replied: “Regulation would force people to do it. If a building is not on the list then people would challenge it.”
KEO’s Rosenbaum pointed out the opportunity for retrofitting existing buildings. “We need to get rid of the mentality that buildings are dispensable,” he stated.
On the subject of green awareness, Steven Velegrinis, urban design practice leader and green team lead, Woods Bagot, said: “I don’t think you can educate stakeholders.”
Velegrinis elaborated: “There needs to some kind of financial impetus. If you really want to reach every user, there has to be a sense of accounting for what you do.”
“Awareness can only go so far”, added Alabbar. “Transparent data will force developers to build more sustainably. All of a sudden, the developer gets hit.”
Alabbar continued: “We also need to work at contracts. We are now so risk-averse. Everyone is too scared to do something differently.”
Wrapping up the discussion, Chris Chi Lon Wan, manager – City Design, Masdar City, said: “Sustainability touches everything. There are no boundaries.”