Friday, June 19, 2015

Is Dubai's ambitious construction projects putting a strain on the environment?

Burj Al Arab
Dubai has been in the past 15 years one of the most exciting holiday destination for those fascinated by architecture and construction.The desert state has built a name for itself by housing some of the world’s most ambitious projects. This year's project pipeline includes a rainforest in the desert, the world’s largest shopping mall and the tallest twin towers on earth.

On the one hand this is good news as it suggests the city will become even more appealing and it shows strong consumer demand. It also shows that Dubai's construction industry is supported by solid foreign investment and loans. But on the other hand the large number of projects in the pipeline raises a big question: What is the impact of Dubai's ambitious construction projects on environmental footprint? Nowadays when construction companies are encouraged to build as green as possible, finding the answer to this question should not be ignored.

13 years of highs and lows

Dubai's construction boom started in 2002 when foreigners were allowed to buy properties. Many
were sold off-plan almost immediately, with few regulations in place. In 2009, following the global financial crisis, hundreds of construction projects were abandoned or suspended as credit dried up. Property prices fell by 30-50 percent.In 2013 a second construction boom occured. Property prices raised by over 30 percent supported by the news Dubai will host Expo 2020.

Princess Tower
On the one hand the average person in Dubai uses about double the amount of water than the global average, produces 2.5kg (5lb) of waste a day, and is among the world's worst carbon dioxide polluters. On the other hand gas turbines produce most of Dubai's energy and as a fuel source, this is a pretty clean option, as the grid's carbon emissions are only 60 percent of the world's average. Furthermore, the distribution of gas is also twice as efficient when compared globally, so the infrastructure is not the problem.
Home to world's tallest skyscrapers

The history of skyscrapers in Dubai began with the construction of Dubai World Trade Centre in 1979, which is usually regarded as the first high-rise in the city. At the time of its completion, it also stood as the tallest building in the Middle East.

Since 1999, and especially from 2005 onwards, Dubai has been the site of an extremely large skyscraper building boom, with all 73 of its buildings over 200 metres (656 ft) tall completed after 1999. In less than ten years, the city has amassed one of the largest skylines in the world. It is now home to the world's tallest building, the world's tallest residence, and the world's tallest hotel. As of 2012, 363 new skyscrapers are under construction in Dubai; additionally, there are over 640 active high-rise developments that have been proposed for construction in the city.
Burj Khalifa
The tallest building in Dubai is the Burj Khalifa, which rises 828 metres (2,717 ft) and contains 163 floors. The tower has stood as both the tallest building in the world and the tallest man-made structure of any kind in the world since its completion in January 2010. The second-tallest building in Dubai is the 414-metre (1,358 ft) Princess Tower, which also stands as the world's tallest residential skyscraper. The skyscrapers of Dubai are, for the most part, clustered in three different locations. The land along Sheikh Zayed Road was the first to develop, followed by the Dubai Marina neighborhood and the Business Bay district.

The future looks bright
One step the government has already taken is to ensure all new public and private buildings are constructed according to a far-reaching set of green building regulations introduced last year. Saeed Al Abbar said: "Over 800 buildings have complied with the regulations so far at the design stage, which is a tremendous achievement.
Marina Towers
Dubai's rulers are keen to improve the situation. They want 15 percent of electricity from renewables, with 30 percent less consumed per head, by 2030 and this renewable target looks achievable. Saeed Al Abbar, chair of the Emirates Green Building Council, told the BBC that "awareness of sustainability issues has definitely increased significantly over the past few years".

The real challenge is in ensuring that the code requirements are fully incorporated in the completed constructions through rigorous quality control measures."
The first steps towards building a healthier environment have already been made. For the moment we can only wait and hope the positive effects will show sooner than later.

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