Ratings ‘need to be more flexible’, says expert

Sustainability-2012-conf-pa

A panel discussion at the Construction Week: Building Sustainability into the Middle East Conference 2012 addressed the issues related to green building rating systems such as LEED, Estidama and BREEAM.

Entitled ‘Sustainability Goals – Aligning with the Government’s 2030 Vision’, the panel was moderated by Nicholas Lander, lead consultant, sustainable development for Halcrow, and brought together a group architects, contractors and sustainability consultants.

In response to a statement that any regular building can attain LEED or Estidama, Lander replied: “I agree. Rating systems are about raising the bar. Environmentally, it is an exercise in doing things less badly rather than doing it well.”

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Adrian Bliss, Mott MacDonald’s environment and sustainability manager for the Middle East, added: “Rating systems need to be more intelligent.

“There is a building in Snowdonia which is one of the most sustainable in the UK yet it struggled to get a BREEAM rating. It lost points because it didn’t have a bus stop or bike racks. There should be a bespoke rating system, or systems need to be more flexible.”

However, Bliss remarked that rating systems can “raise expectations” and standards. He continued: “[In the future] a one or two Pearl rating will be standard and the boundaries will be pushed up.”

Jyoti Sharma, senior architect, facilities and infrastructure, Abu Dhabi Education Council, commented: “A true change won’t happen until we get everybody up to speed with education. The developer is driven by the consumer; the consumer has to demand [green buildings].”

She added: “It’s important that technology is made accessible. If you have a building management system, don’t hide it and make use of it.”

Panelists were asked to cite the most important factor for advancing sustainability in the Middle East. Phillipe Dessoy, general manager, Middle East, Six Construct, said: “In the big cities, the main issue is transportation – the establishment of mass transit systems. Abu Dhabi is later down the line, but Qatar is moving forward – as is Jeddah and Riyadh.

“This will be a big boost for cities as they will reduce pollution. There needs to be discussion between different emirates and connecting cities. For instance, the metro stops at Sharjah but should be extended – the traffic is a nightmare there.”

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