Eco Emirates

Richard-Marshall

Richard Marshall, joint CEO of Woods Bagot, describes the UAE’s green credentials

Our clients are suddenly becoming a lot more interested in sustainability. They are actually making sure that projects will stack up financially.

Before the crisis it was very much lip service. People were interested in getting assets they could sell rather than keeping assets they could manage through the lifecycle of a normal project. The mentally of the developer was not geared to the performance of the building in 15 or 30 years’ time.

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I think any government policy will always lag behind design technology and innovation. While LEED, Estidama, and the Green Building Council is a step in the right direction, I don’t think it will be enough to drive a different way of thinking.

I believe that Estidama hasn’t completely considered the embedded cost on the developer. Until you get a number of projects going through that system it will be very difficult to see if there is any interest from the developer community, which is already struggling to sell products.

It’s often very fundamental things that make the largest gains. A lot has to do with a building’s orientation.

My experience in Australia and China would suggest that sustainability is actually driven by the tenants. They demand a certain specification for what they want to occupy, and developers have to deliver those specifications. I think it can be led by the government, but ultimately it has to be driven by the society’s wants and needs.

I think the Dubai Metro needs to be expanded to where people live and work. It’s a test programme – it doesn’t capture any major population centres to fulfil a broad sustainability agenda. In a disaggregated urban fabric that is Dubai, it’s very difficult to get those kinds of efficiencies.

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