Masdar has participated in a webinar focussed on the importance of green construction practices in contributing toward a more sustainable future. Hosted by TENDERD, a technology start-up from Silicon Valley based in Dubai, the webinar was led by speakers H.E. Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, United Arab Emirates, Mr. Abdulla Balalaa, Acting Executive Director, Sustainable Real State at Masdar City, and Mr. Arjun Mohan, Founder and CEO at TENDERD.
The speakers discussed the construction industry and how the impact of a rapidly increasing global population is perpetuating urbanization, which in turn, results in the expansion of cities, requiring an ever-increasing number of buildings. While cities are undoubtedly a vital source of economic growth, responsible for approximately 60 percent of global GDP, they are also the root of considerable environmental harm, consuming over two-thirds of the world’s energy and producing 75 percent of its carbon emissions.
Abdulla Balalaa, Acting Executive Director, Sustainable Real Estate, Masdar City, spoke about how Masdar City is supporting the UAE’s sustainability agenda as a greenprint for urban sustainable development. He highlighted how Masdar City has set standards for sustainable urban development and how the City’s focus on environmental sustainability, also makes good business sense, with the carbon footprint for business tenants being 40 percent lower than for comparable ‘conventional’ offices.
As a large consumer of natural resources, the construction industry is currently responsible for 39% of all carbon emissions in the world. Operational emissions, from energy used to heat, cool and light buildings, account for 28%, while the remaining 11%, comes from embodied carbon emissions or ‘upfront’ carbon that is associated with materials and construction processes throughout the whole building lifecycle (Global Status Report 2017). Therefore, addressing upfront carbon is crucial to positively tackling the climate crisis, as new construction is expected to double the world's building stock by 2060, causing an increase in current carbon emissions levels.
Green construction is an effort to build responsibly, reduce waste, and help preserve the environment. It is an ‘earth-friendly’ alternative to the traditional construction process and it involves all stages of a building lifecycle, planning, design, construction and operations.
“You cannot have a sustainable community if you don’t have sustainable buildings, and you cannot have sustainable buildings if you don’t have a sustainable masterplan. So, from the outset of its development in 2008, Masdar City has aimed to turn the tide and pioneer sustainable buildings in the region. It is important for decision makers in the construction industry to understand, that it does not necessarily cost more to live and work in a sustainable way. Sustainability can be achieved through a holistic design process that considers both the environmental and economic impacts from the beginning. The sustainable transformation of our towns and cities requires collaboration from across governments, consultants, developers and real estate investors,” said Abdulla Balalaa. “At Masdar City our core beliefs mirror that of the UAE - we believe in sustainability. We don’t look at sustainability from only an environmental aspect, but also from its social and economic dimensions. For example, Masdar City has the largest cluster of LEED-certified buildings in the world; this has resulted in potential annual energy savings of around 50,000MWh for our clients, resulting in OPEX savings of more than AED 10 million.”
A proportion of Masdar City’s power needs are currently generated on site from a 10MW solar array and rooftop panels with a combined capacity of 1MW. The City contains one of the largest clusters of low-carbon buildings in the world. Buildings within Masdar City, are mandated to achieve a minimum 3-Pearl rating under the Estidama Pearl Building Rating System (PBRS); they are designed to reduce energy by at least 40% compared to ASHRAE standards and reduce water consumption by at least 40% in accordance with Estidama Pearl Building Rating System baselines.
Masdar City is also home to many companies all committed to advancing the sustainability agenda and creating the technological innovations to make tomorrow greener. This includes the International Renewable Energy Agency HQ (IRENA) which is designed to consume approximately 60% less energy on average than conventional buildings in Abu Dhabi, and the Siemens Middle East HQ building, is rated LEED Platinum and Estidama 3 Pearls.