Once considered a farfetched possibility by skeptics, global warming and climate change are now surfacing as palpable realities of the day. From wildfires in Australia to melting glaciers in Iceland, the year 2020 bid farewell to the hottest ever decade recorded on the planet. Fortunately, though, measures are being taken across all industries to curb our modern world’s carbon footprint, and the case of building and construction sector is no different.
According to a recent UNEP-supported report titled 2019 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction, construction sector in 2019 continued its notorious position as the largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions, resulting in 39% of the energy and process-related carbon emissions recorded during the year. The report further states that whilst as many as 136 countries have expressed intentions to work towards sustainable buildings, only a few have elaborated on tangible actions strategized to achieve such plans.
The global building stock is forecasted to grow twofold by 2050 as a direct consequence of increasing urbanization. If left unchecked, GHG emissions resulting from the building industry can rise to 50% of the global carbon emissions in the next three decades. While technological innovations have given way to reduced energy consumption, increasing cooling demand emerging from hot regions have overshadowed a significant positive trajectory. That said, countries across the world are increasingly targeting the urban built environment as a part of their national strategy towards a low-carbon future.
Within the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, Qatar houses one of the highest collections of sustainable buildings. Concluding 2019, the country saw completion of more than 50 projects certified under the Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS) – MENA’s first performance-based assessment system for green buildings. Based on their overall sustainability credentials, projects registered under GSAS can achieve up to 5 Stars, representing the highest levels of sustainable features in terms of design and build. The award of final rating and certificates follows a comprehensive process whereby auditors from the Gulf Organisation for Research & Development (GORD) analyze several aspects of projects at multiple stages throughout the construction phase.
For the year 2019, here are some green projects successfully completed under GSAS.
During 2019, many recipients of outstanding sustainability ratings were linked with Qatar Rail’s Doha Metro project. With Mesheireb Station achieving the highest rating of 5 Stars, another 17 metro stations and 2 stabling yards at different locations within Doha received 4 Stars for their environmentally friendly design and build aspects. Doha Metro is by far the world’s first metro project with accredited sustainable certification specific to rating railway stations. This has been achieved through GSAS’ unique Railways Scheme that is used for rating the sustainability and ecological impacts of new main station buildings, including spaces that serve various functions of a metro station. According to Consolidated Contractors Company, sustainability of the project has been achieved through responsible site development, water saving, energy efficiency, materials selection, cultural and economic value support and innovation in design. Stations awarded GSAS accreditation during 2019 included those located in Msheireb Downtown, Ras Bu Abboud, Al Sadd, Al Sudan, Bin Mahmoud, Qatar University, Hamad International Airport Terminal 1, Al Doha Al Jadeda, Umm Ghuwailina, Ras Bu Fontas, Economic Zone, Al Wakrah, Al Bidda, Corniche, Hamad Hospital, Al Riffa, The White Palace and Education City.
Lusail City Projects:
A number of projects receiving green certifications during 2019 represented Lusail City – Qatar’s first smart city covering 38 square kilometers, that has mandated GSAS to ensure sustainability of all of its buildings. A flagship project of Qatari Diar, Lusail City has been dubbed as the “largest single sustainable development” ever undertaken in the State of Qatar. Use of native flora and water efficient landscaping mechanisms are some ways the city conserves water. Its integrated transport system reduces GHG emissions resulting from private vehicles. The city’s urban connectivity has been achieved through light rail, ample pedestrian walkways, bicycle tracks and park-and-ride facilities at the public transport stations. With a capacity to reduce up to 65 million tons of CO2 per annum, Lusail’s district cooling plant boasts of being one of the largest in the world. Other green credentials benefiting the entire city include a pneumatic waste collection system, sewage treatment plant and an interconnected natural gas network designed to cut down energy consumption.
Within Lusail, Marina Yacht Club Al Khaliji Tower received the highest sustainability rating of 4 Stars during 2019 followed by another 8 commercial, residential and mixed-use developments receiving 4, 3 and 2 stars. Once complete, the city will have the capacity to accommodate 200,000 residents, 170,000 employees and 80,000 visitors without significant impact on the environment.
Sustainable development is one of the four key pillars of Qatar National Vision 2030, a fact that has provided a natural impetus for public projects to be designed and constructed sustainably. Now, all government projects within Qatar are now mandated to pursue and achieve sustainability under GSAS certification system. To this end, health centers in Al Waab, Al Wajbah, Muaither and Qatar University were successfully completed with 3 Stars sustainability rating during 2019 under the supervision of Public Works Authority ‘Ashghal’. Interestingly, all projects undertaken by Ashghal have been designed and built following sustainability principles – a fact that has been reiterated by Ashghal’s President, Dr. Eng. Saad bin Ahmad Al Muhannadi, who recently emphasized that “Ashghal is implementing GSAS standards in all its public buildings in Qatar, specifically in educational and health buildings.” In the light of these comments, one can safely assume that the upcoming stock of health centers in Qatar will continue to have sustainability at the core of their design and construction.
Hamad Port Project Facilities:
Increasing Doha’s total port capacity, Hamad Port Project started operations in 2016. However, construction has been underway to develop new facilities aimed at enhancing the port’s functional efficiency. The year 2019 witnessed completion of multiple facilities inside the new port with sustainability certification. From accommodation and mosques to civil defense and business center buildings, 19 projects under the umbrella of Hamad Port received sustainability rating between 3 and 2 Stars. Development of the new port has followed comprehensive mechanisms aimed at preserving the environment. For instance, 39,117 mangroves, 14,252 sqm of sea grass and 11,595 hard corals were relocated prior to the construction phase. The relocated flora and fauna are being continuously monitored and have so far proven to be surviving.
Taking green sports infrastructure to another level, Al Janoub Stadium received GSAS 4 Stars during 2019, and rightly so. Soon to be a venue for FIFA 2022 World Cup games, the stadium consumes 30 percent less water in terms of international plumbing codes. More than 15% of its permanent building materials are made from recycled content and more than 85% of the waste generated during construction was processed to be reused or recycled, making it one of the most sustainable stadiums worldwide. Apart from Al Janoub, Qatar University’s Sports and Events Complex was another distinguishing project that received 4 Stars under GSAS Design & Build scheme.
MEP Middle East, June 28, 2020, covering the Second MENA Green Building Congress did highlight the fact that this Virtual two-day event underscores need to revive green economy in planning post-Covid-19 recovery.
Second MENA Green Building Congress organised under patronage of UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment
The World Green Building Council (WorldGBC), in partnership with Majid Al Futtaim Holding, has hosted the second MENA Green Building Congress virtually.
Drawing the participation of WorldGBC board members and partners of the MENA Regional Network, the two-day Congress focused on three key topics: Better Places for People, Advancing Net Zero, and Sustainable Reconstruction.
In his keynote address on day one, His Excellency Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said: “The transition towards green buildings is a much-needed move, as the building and construction sector is the largest contributor to energy-related greenhouse gas emissions worldwide at 39%, while accounting for 36 percent of global energy use.
“The UAE has a wealth of experience and knowledge in this field, as over the past decade, the construction industry in the country has made significant strides in incorporating sustainability into its concepts and practices.
“The escalating impacts of climate change and the dedication of our region to sustainable development make it imperative for all of us to join forces and fast-track the shift to a green economy across all sectors, including building and construction.
“The second MENA Green Building Congress aims to enhance regional collaboration in advancing the sustainability of the construction sector and offers a prime platform for stakeholders to network and exchange best practices and development plans.”
The Congress drives momentum among industry decision makers around green building issues, and promotes the adoption of green building practices and new technologies in the MENA region.
Cristina Gamboa, CEO of WorldGBC, said: “The MENA Green Building Congress is bringing together learnings and leadership that are invaluable to our global network, and in particular, to the region.
“In these unprecedented times, we must embrace a green economic recovery and prioritize improving the quality of green buildings as well as creating new jobs in the sustainable construction field. It’s time we deliver at scale net zero, healthy, equitable and sustainable built environments for everyone, everywhere.”
Ibrahim Al-Zu’bi, Chief Sustainability Officer at Majid Al Futtaim Holding, added: “This year’s MENA Green Building Congress is truly special as it gives us an opportunity to reflect and share insights around the current situation to a receptive online community.
“As the world recovers from the pandemic’s immediate implications, we need to focus on harmonizing the health and well-being of our communities, and achieving energy efficiency and resilience.
“Maintaining healthier communities without losing focus of climate change mitigation actions is crucial for the sustainability of our people and planet.”
Today we use Aluminium in external facades, windows and doors and numerous other applications in the construction industry throughout the world. But could Aluminium: Combatting construction’s carbon footprint be the answer with its virtually maintenance-free and lighter weight be that easier, faster and much more convenient to use really in a building? And could “Reducing the carbon footprint of concrete production” be applicable to Aluminium as well?
Innovation organisation InnovateUK states that construction, operation and maintenance of the built environment account for 45 per cent of total UK carbon emissions. By 2031, it’s predicted that the United Kingdom’s population will exceed 70 million. With a rising population, and an increasing need for buildings and homes, it’s imperative that the industry takes action to reduce its carbon emissions.
Common building materials such as concrete and timber are harmful to the environment. Concrete is the most commonly used man-made material on Earth, and is used in a variety of construction applications including interior and exterior cladding.
However, concrete is also responsible for up to eight per cent of the world’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions — only coal, oil and gas are greater sources of greenhouse gases. The majority of CO2 emissions are produced during the making of cement clinker, a nodular material that is produced by heating ground limestone and clay at a temperature of up to 1,500 degrees Celsius (°C). These nodules are then ground up to a fine powder to produce cement.
Using wood as a building product does not directly emit greenhouse gases like the production of concrete, but deforestation for this purpose is also detrimental to the Earth’s atmosphere.
Fortunately, there are alternatives to these materials that can support sustainable resource management while still delivering on quality.
Aluminium possesses many benefits that make it an ideal building material. Its high ductility allows it to be formed into many different shaped profiles, without weakening. Furthermore, aluminium is nearly as strong as and is lighter than steel, which makes it more manageable on site. Compared to other metals, aluminium is corrosion resistant as its surface is naturally protected by a layer of aluminium oxide — reducing the frequency of maintenance on a building.
From an environmental perspective, perhaps the most significant benefit of using aluminium lies with its recyclable and sustainable possibilities. Although there are sustainable options such as timber, straw and compressed earth, which can be used in the construction industry, these materials do not offer the required strength needed for a buildings structure.
Although 40 per cent of the UK’s annual aluminium production is used in the construction industry, the equivalent of 150,000 tonnes, steel is still the most used metal.
Like all metals though, aluminium production is not a hazard-free process. Aluminium is chemically extracted from bauxite, an ore that must be mined. This is known as alumina, which is then smelted to form pure aluminium. While aluminium production is still impactful on the environment, these effects can be counteracted by the metal’s circularity potential.
It’s thought that around 75 per cent of all aluminium produced remains in circulation, in some form or another. Aluminium can be melted and reused without any impact on its mechanical properties. This means that aluminium products can be manufactured over and over again to the same high standard.
The benefits of aluminium make it an ideal building material as it can be applied to different areas of a build including roofing, wall panels, windows and doors. Aluminium can also be used as an alternative material to replace concrete and timber exterior cladding and batten systems. Cladding and batten systems can be used to enhance the appearance of a building, as well as for structural reinforcement.
Depending on the design of the build, the aesthetic of aluminium is not always desired. Endurawood is available in a range of powder coat and woodgrain coatings, which replicate the look of natural wood. In addition, these coatings are volatile organic compound (VOC) and lead free, which also contributes to the environmental benefits of aluminium.
Lastly, although aluminium is highly durable, when it’s time to replace the cladding and battens, they can be recycled and reused for another building product — ensuring minimal waste.
While there are a number of steps that must be taken to achieve Net Zero emissions in the construction industry, considering a material such as aluminium could make a significant impact. If the industry wants to reduce its carbon footprint, harnessing the benefits of a lighter weight, sustainable material could help to make this possible.
For more information about Endurawood’s products and their benefits, go to www.endurawood.co.uk.Telephone: +44 (0)330 1340290
The insatiable demand of the global building boom has unleashed an illegal market in sand. Gangs are now stealing pristine beaches to order and paradise islands are being dredged and sold to the construction industry was the introduction to an article of The Guardian. A less partial response to that would definitely that of Seyed Ghaffar, Brunel University London proposes here below to how we can recycle more buildings.
More than 35 billion tonnes of non-metallic minerals are extracted from the Earth every year. These materials mainly end up being used to build homes, schools, offices and hospitals. It’s a staggering amount of resources, and it’s only too likely to increase in the coming years as the global population continues to grow.
Thankfully, the challenges of sustainable construction, industrial growth and the importance of resource efficiency are now clearly recognised by governments around the world and are now at the forefront of strategy and policy.
A critical component of the UK government’s sustainability strategy concerns the way in which construction and demolition waste – CDW, as we call it in the trade – is managed. CDW comes from the construction of buildings, civil infrastructure and their demolition and is one of the heaviest waste streams generated in the world – 35% of the world’s landfill is made up of CDW.
The EU’s Waste Framework Directive, which aims to recycle 70% of non-hazardous CDW by 2020, has encouraged the construction industry to process and reuse materials more sustainably. This directive, which favours preventive measures – for example, reducing their use in the first place – as the best approach to tackling waste, has been implemented in the UK since 2011. More specific to the construction industry, the Sustainable Construction Strategy also sets overall targets for diverting CDW from landfill.
Policies worldwide recognise that the construction sector needs to take immediate action to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, tackle the climate crisis and limit resource depletion, with a focus on adopting a circular economy approach in construction to ensure the sustainable use of construction materials.
Instead of simply knocking buildings down and sending the CDW to landfill, circular construction would turn building components that are at the end of their service life into resources for others, minimising waste.
It would change economic logic because it replaces production with sufficiency: reuse what you can, recycle what cannot be reused, repair what is broken, and re-manufacture what cannot be repaired. It will also help protect businesses against a shortage of resources and unstable prices, creating innovative business opportunities and efficient methods of producing and consuming.
Changing the mind-set
The mind-set of the industry needs to change towards the cleaner production of raw materials and better circular construction models. Technical issues – such as price, legal barriers and regulations – that stand in the way of the solutions being rolled out more widely must also be overcome through innovation.
Materials scientists, for example, are currently investigating and developing products that use processed CDW for manufacturing building components – for example, by crushing up CDW and using it to make new building materials.
Technical problems around the reuse of recycled materials should be solved through clever material formulations and detailed property investigations. For instance, the high water absorption rate in recycled aggregates causes durability problems in wall components. This is something that research must address.
Moreover, it is illegal in the EU to use products that haven’t been certified for construction. This is one of the main obstacles standing in the way of the more widespread reuse of materials, particularly in a structural capacity. Testing the performance of materials for certification can be expensive, which adds to the cost of the material and may cancel out any savings made from reusing them.
For the construction, demolition and waste management industries to remain competitive in a global marketplace, they must continue to develop and implement supply chain innovations that improve efficiency and reduce energy, waste and resource use. To achieve this, substantial research into smart, mobile and integrated systems is necessary.
Radically advanced robotic artificial intelligence (AI) systems for sorting and processing CDW must also be developed. Many industries are facing an uncertain future and today’s technological limitations cannot be assumed to apply. The construction industry is likely to be significantly affected by the potential of transformative technologies such as AI, 3D printing, virtual/augmented reality and robotics. The application of such technologies presents both significant opportunities and challenges.
A model for the future
As the image below shows, we have developed a concept for an integrated, eco-friendly circular construction solution.
Advanced sensors and AI that can detect quickly and determine accurately what can be used among CDW and efficient robotic sorting could aid circular construction by vastly improving the recycling of a wide range of materials. The focus should be on the smart dismantling of buildings and ways of optimising cost-effective processes.
The industry must also be inspired to highlight and prove the extraordinary potential of this new construction economy. We can drive this through a combination of creative design, focused academic research and applied technology, external industry engagement and flexible, responsive regulation.
Only through a combination of efforts can we start to recycle more buildings, but I’m confident that with the right will – and the right investment – we can start to massively reduce the amount of materials we pull from the ground each year and move towards a truly sustainable future.
Reducing the environmental impact of the global built environment sector by Chalmers University of Technology enlighten us on we currently stand in terms of reducing or lowering all built environment related human activities from impacting the Earth’s climate and how “powerful, combined efforts are absolutely crucial for the potential to achieve the UN’s sustainability goals.” and as a consequence, ‘The global built environment sector must think in new, radical ways, and act quickly’. The above feature picture is only for illustrative purpose.
The construction sector, the real estate industry and city planners must give high priority to the same goal—to drastically reduce their climate impacts. Powerful, combined efforts are absolutely crucial for the potential to achieve the UN’s sustainability goals. And what’s more—everything has to happen very quickly. These are the cornerstones to the roadmap presented at the Beyond 2020 World Conference.
Today, 55% of the world’s population lives in cities. By 2050, that figure is estimated to have risen to 68%, according to the UN. Cities already produce 70% of the world’s greenhouse gasses. Buildings and construction account for 40% of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions. Rapid urbanization is bringing new demands that need to be met in ecologically, economically and socially sustainable ways.
“If we continue as before, we have no chance of even getting close to the climate goals. Now we need to act with new radical thinking and we need to do it fast and increase the pace at which we work to reduce cities’ climate impact. We must look for innovative ways to build our societies so that we move towards the sustainability goals, and not away from them,”
says Colin Fudge, Visiting Professor of urban futures and design at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden.
As an outcome of the Beyond 2020 World Conference, Colin Fudge and his colleague Holger Wallbaum have established a “Framework for a Transformational Plan for the Built Environment.” The framework aims to lay the foundation for regional strategies that can guide the entire sector in working towards sustainable cities and communities, and the goals of the UN Agenda 2030.
“The conference clearly demonstrated the growing awareness of sustainability issues among more and more actors in the sector. But it’s not enough. Achieving the sustainability goals will require a common understanding among all actors of how they can be achieved—and, not least, real action. That is what we want to contribute to now,”
says Holger Wallbaum, Professor in Sustainable Building at Chalmers University of Technology, and host of Beyond 2020.
Chair of Sweden’s Council for sustainable cities, Helena Bjarnegård, is welcoming their initiative.
“We are aware that we have to deliver change to address the climate, biodiversity, lack of resources and segregation. We need to develop sustainable living environments, not least for the sake of human health. The framework of a transformational plan for the built environment provides a provocative but necessary suggestion on concrete actions to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for one of the most important sectors,”
says Helena Bjarnegård, National architect of Sweden.
In the framework, Wallbaum and Fudge have added a detailed action plan for northwestern Europe that contains 72 concrete proposals for measures—intended as an inspiration for the rest of the world.
The proposals cover everything from energy efficiency improvements, research into new building materials, digital tools and renovation methods, to free public transport, more green spaces and cycle paths. They involve all actors from the entire sector—such as architects, builders, real estate companies, material producers and urban planners.
Several of the high-priority measures in northwestern Europe are under direct governmental responsibility:
Higher taxes on carbon dioxide emissions and utilization of land and natural resources—lower taxes on labor
State support for energy-efficient renovation works
A plan for large-scale production of sustainable, affordable housing
Increased pace in the phasing out of fossil fuels in favor of electric power from renewables
“Here, governments, in collaboration with towns, cities and other sectors, have a key role, as it is political decisions such as taxation, targeted support and national strategies that can pave the way for the radical changes we propose. But all actors with influence over the built environment must contribute to change. In other parts of the world, it may be the business community that plays the corresponding main role,”
says Holger Wallbaum.
Wallbaum and Fudge are clear that their proposed measures are specifically intended for the countries of northwestern Europe, and that their work should be seen as an invitation to discussion. Different actors around the world are best placed to propose which measures are most urgent and relevant in their respective regions, based on local conditions, they claim.
“Key people and institutions in different parts of the world have accepted the challenge of establishing nodes for the development of regional strategies. From Chalmers’ side, we have offered to support global coordination. Our proposal is that all these nodes present their progress for evaluation and further development at a world conference every three years—next in Montreal, in 2023,”
says Colin Fudge.
A thousand participants followed the Beyond 2020 conference, which was arranged by Chalmers 2-4 November in collaboration with Johanneberg Science Park, Rise (Research Institutes of Sweden), and the City of Gothenburg. As a result of the Corona pandemic, it was held online. The conference discussed methods for reducing climate footprints, lowering resource consumption, digital development and innovative transport. Among the speakers were authorities in sustainable construction, digitization and financing from around the world.
Beyond 2020 has the status of a World Sustainable Built Environment Conference (WSBE). Organizers are appointed by iiSBE, a worldwide non-profit organization whose overall goal is to actively work for initiatives that can contribute to a more sustainable built environment. The next WSBE will be held in Montreal in 2023.
More about: A roadmap for the built environment
In their newly established framework, Wallbaum and Fudge establish a general approach that each individual region in the world can use to identify the measures that are most urgent and relevant to achieving the goals of the UN Agenda 2030, based on local conditions. They identify the key questions that must be answered by all societal actors, the obstacles that need to be overcome and the opportunities that will be crucial for the sector over the next decade.
More about: Action plan for the built environment sector in northwestern Europe
Wallbaum and Fudge have specified 72 acute sustainability measures in northwestern Europe (Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Norway, Belgium, Switzerland). A selection:
Establish renovation plans which focus on energy efficiencies for all existing property by 2023. Avoid demolition and new construction when it is possible to renovate.
Halve emissions from production of building materials by 2025. The transition to greater usage of materials with lower climate impact needs to accelerate.
Accelerate the phase out of fossil fuels in the transport sector in favor of electric power—with, for example, a ban on new petrol and diesel cars by 2030.
Double the amount of pedestrian and cycle paths in cities by 2030.
Offer free municipal public transport for all school children and for everyone over the age of 70.
Introduce the climate perspective as a mandatory element of the architectural industry’s ethical guidelines.
Increase the proportion of green spaces by 20% in all cities by 2030.
Concentrate research on the development of new building materials with lower carbon footprints, digital tools for the built environment and new energy-efficient renovation methods.
Read the entire action plan on the pages 20-23 in the Framework document on a Transformational Plan for the Built Environment
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