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Issue 20 | FEBRUARY 2012


Up to 500 million litres of paint is manufactured in the UAE every year. With no formal regulation to prevent hazardous compounds being used, BGreen looks into the least recognised element of sustainable building; human health


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21 18 Green IT



News: The latest developments world wide


Really? The stories that are too good to be true



42 energy and water



How municipalities in the UAE are supporting green business


Inside WFES


Taylor Wessing senior associate Michael Kramer on the viability of solar


28 32

Sustainability down under HLG senior sustainability engineer Wissam Yassine on managing construction waste



The toxic effects of paint

Bamboo and solar powered laptops? Yes!


Case study on the Green Globe hotel certitication scheme


Setting an example: Abu Dhabi’s Grand Millennium

ethical investment

48 50

Omar Al Jaddou on responsibility and consumer demand Ethical investment news




Starting young: the Dubai nursery with a green curriculum



The Green Spy

57 Diary dates


February 2012


The Floor is Yours

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. Robert Frost, 1874-1963

Desso’s Cradle to Cradle® approach In signing a partnership agreement with the Hamburg-based Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency, Desso has become the first carpet manufacturer to adopt Cradle to Cradle® design for the entire carpet tile. It marks Desso’s radical decision to move beyond ‘mere’ sustainability in producing its carpets and artificial grass, making a fundamental, sweeping advance in its already impressive environmental credentials. Cradle to Cradle® is a giant step forward, from Eco Efficiency to Eco Effectiveness. Cradle to Cradle® design is about creating continuous cycles of both biological and technical ‘nutrients’. This means that products are made from pure components that are easy to disassemble, in order to create new products. They will have been produced using manufacturing processes which rely on renewable energy, and which seek to conserve water, and to embrace social responsibility. Customers can be sure that our products are made from environmentally friendly pure materials that are good for human health and are designed so that at their end of their useful lives, they can be biologically or technically recycled. For more information about Desso’s Cradle to Cradle approach, please visit our website





Public surroundings DESSO Sultan Ali Al – Owais Building - Satwa Dubai T: +97143985900 F: +97143985908 E:


Editor’s letter

Paint it black. Or don’t. F

uzzy headed? Lethargic? Coughing and sneezing when you walk into the office? It could be down to a ‘bug’; it could be the after effects of a late night; or it could be caused by something much more sinister. Paint covers almost every surface of every indoor environment we inhabit. It is on walls, floors, desks and doors and unless people are vigilant in which paints they select, they can be exposing themselves to a toxic cocktail of heavy metals, carcinogens and chemical compounds that pose massive risks to human health.

Incidences of sick building syndrome are higher in office environments and the combined ailments of the condition can affect productivity and health. This month, Dr Fadeyi from the British University in Dubai shares his research into the least investigated element of sustainable building; the health of occupants. Explaining away the claims of “once the smell is go, there are no toxins”, he explains the extent of the hazards that lurk in practically every indoor environment, speaks about the tests he conducted on a number of buildings in Dubai, and explains the alternatives.



Up to 500 million litres of paint is manufactured in the UAE every year. With no formal regulation to prevent hazardous compounds being used, BGreen looks into the least recognised element of sustainable building; human health

Please recycle after use...




1_Cover_february2012.indd 1

2/2/12 5:28 PM

The BGreen Editorial Team

Publisher Dominic De Sousa Associate Publisher Liam Williams COO Nadeem Hood Director Business Development Rhiannon Downie Business Development Manager Samir Shulgami samirs@ Marketing and PR Executive Carole McCarthy

Editorial Director Melanie Mingas Editor Praseeda Nair Writers Alice Hartley Hina Navin Anoop K Menon Designer/Photographer Marlou Delaben Photographer Cris Mejorada

Webmasters Troy Maagma Jerus King Bation Erik Briones Joel Azcuna Printed by Printwell Printing Press LLC Published by

Head Office PO Box 13700 Dubai, UAE Tel: +971 4 440 9100 Fax: +971 4 447 2409 Web: © Copyright 2012 CPI. All rights reserved. While the publishers have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of all information in this magazine, they will not be held responsible for any errors therein.

February 2012


General News

‘Sustainable energy for all’ launched by Ban Ki Moon WFES key note highlights sustainable development is hinged on energy

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has launched an initiative to ensure equality in the world energy mix during his key note address at the World Future Energy Summit held in Abu Dhabi last month. The ‘sustainable energy for all’ initiative is designed to ‘mobilise global, urgent action’, and calls for businesses, governments, investors community groups and academia to collaborate on establishing modern energy services; doubling the amount of renewable energy in the global mix; and doubling improvements in energy efficiency.

According to the UN, all objectives are ‘complimentary’ and must be achieved by 2030. “Sustainable energy can revitalise our economies, strengthen social equity, and catalyze a clean energy revolution that benefits all humanity. Acting together, we can open new horizons today and help power a brighter tomorrow,” said UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon. The fact that one in five people on the planet still lack access to modern electricity, was one of a number of shocking statistics recalled by Moon during the address. It was also reported that a progression to ‘resource efficient measures’ in the carbon, steel and iron industries in developed economies alone, could save US$2tr by 2030. The Rio+20 conference, to be held in Rio de Janeriro June 20-22 this year, will be the ‘opening chapter’ of the sustainable energy initiative. Visit for more information.

A Volt for the Road From ‘plug n play’ to ‘plug n drive’ The greening of our road travels has begun...with a Volt! A new breed of plugin car that runs on electricity around town and has the range to allow holiday makers to head to the coast for extended breaks. The Volt is the world’s first Extended Range Electric Vehicle (EREV), which differentiates itself from other battery electric vehicles by employing a 1.4litre petrol engine to power the electric drivetrain once the charge of the lithiumion battery pack has reached a minimum state of charge. Is it an electrically driven vehicle or a hybrid? See, at times the Volt combines up to three motors – a generator, the petrol engine and a traction

February 2012

motor. Regardless, the Volt can travel between 60 and 80km before the petrol engine kicks in to charge the battery pack and ensure the small car can achieve a total range in excess of 500km. So what is the barrier to everyone buying a Volt? It is well known that consumers feel “range anxiety” when

Zayed Future Energy Prize “We congratulate the winners of the Zayed Future Energy Prize, and encourage them all to continue in their efforts towards the creation of innovative solutions – impacting communities around the world. These are the ambassadors of innovation, the ambassadors of our Prize – these are the people who spread hope and aspiration and encourage the next generation of innovators.” — General Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. Category: Lifetime Achievement Award Dr Ashok Gadgil Category: NGOs and SMEs Winner: The Carbon Disclosure Project First runner-up: Orb Energy Second runner-up: Environmental Defense Fund Category: Recognition Award for Large Corporations. Schneider Electric

contemplating an electric vehicle; where they imagine being stranded with no battery power to get them home. The Volt eliminates this; as recharging takes four hours and beyond that the engine acts purely as a generator to charge the T-shaped batteries that run down the centre of the car. This allows for extended distances. Doubtless the Volt will appeal to companies looking to make a statement about their green credentials. Businesses that make it their business to reduce their environmental footprint through green motoring will probably want their car pool filled with such carbon-reducers. As for how much fuel the Volt consumes, it really depends on how it’s used and for how long. The Prius for example uses an average of 3.9L/100km, while the Volt uses no fuel for short trips. And once the batteries have been depleted, the Volt uses 5.9L/100km running. By Alice Hartley

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General News

All aboard world’s largest solar powered boat Schneider Electric takes award for cleantech innovation Zayed Future Energy Prize winners announced during WFES The fourth Zayed Future Energy Prize paid special homage to Schneider Electric in the large corporations category, for its innovations in cleantech. Schneider’s CSR initiative, BipBop, based on the principle of ‘business innovation and people at the base of the pyramid’, aims to enhance access to ‘reliable, affordable and clean energy for poor countries with limited or no access to electricity’, a key component of the UN’s ‘sustainable energy for all’ programme, launched at WFES. “We are delighted on winning the ZFEP Award for Large Corporations,” commented president and CEO JeanPascal Tricoire. “We hope to continue leading the effort in resolving the global energy challenge with innovative and efficient solutions that curb energy waste, promote clean generation and influence consumption habits that respect and help resuscitate the environment,” Tricoire added. Schneider’s transparency in its CO2 emissions also received a mention.

Fuel-free vessel stops off during circumnavigation School children have been welcomed on board the world’s largest solar powered boat, MS Turanor PlanetSolar whilst it was docked at Doha’s Pearl Pier last month. Part way through a maiden global voyage, the German-built vessel set sail from Monaco on September 27 and is due to arrive back there in May. The Doha stop-off is the longest of the trip, in honour of the advances of solar power in region, made by QSTec. “We received such a warm welcome from Qatar so we are pleased to have made our Arabian stopover in Doha,” said Dr Pascal Gouplie, managing director, PlanetSolar SA. “It’s so simple. Solar technology works.

Emirates Solar Industry Association receives legal backing Taylor Wessing to support local development of industry

Planet solar • • • • • •

Length: 35 m / Width: 23 m Height: 6.10 m / Weight: 95 t Solar Panels: 38’000 with 22,6% yield Maximum engine power: 120 kW Average Engine: 20 kW (26.8 HP) Crew: min 4 people

February 2012

Global law firm Taylor Wessing has joined forces with the Emirates Solar Industry Association (ESIA) to help support the development of a solar industry within the Gulf region. The non-profit NGO provides networking opportunities for its members

So far, we have sailed across four oceans and never lost energy. The MS Turanor PlanetSolar is the perfect demonstration of solar energy; just like a dream come true,” Gouplie added. The boat is a catamaran covered in 572m² of PV cells, allowing it to function entirely on solar energy. Developer PlanetSolar is funded by the Swiss watches company Candino and the German specialist in management of solar energy Immosolar, in addition to public institutions such as the Swiss Confederation through Presence. Other visitors to the vessel during its Doha-dock included Qatar Scientific Club and the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

and assistance to international solar companies looking to establish a presence in the region. The body also published white papers and research reports with a view to assisting policy makers. Taylor Wessing says the partnership will provide ESIA with the same legal support as its green clients in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. “Joining ESIA is a natural step given our track record in this sector and commitment to the environment,” commented TW energy specialist Michael Krämer. “We look forward to making a positive contribution and are confident that our membership of this important group will help us bring further value to our clients in the sustainability sector,” Krämer added. According to a report conducted by the United Nations Development Programme, the pace of investment in renewable energy in the Middle East is three times the global rate. Michael Krämer explains the partnership, potential and regional solar industry in more detail on page 25


Special News Going green in the UAE

Sheikh Mohammed’s green economy drive Initiatives for 2021 target announced His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has launched a new national initiative to build a green economy. Built on six principles covering energy programmes, investments in new technologies and jobs, urban planning, the reduction of carbon emissions and carbon capture initiatives, the policy is being promoted under the slogan ‘a green economy for sustainable development.’ “We, in the UAE, within the vision 2021, are striving to build a diversified economy based on knowledge and innovation, through which we can provide excellent employment opportunities to our citizens,” Sheikh Mohammed said. One of the ‘milestone’ developments towards the green future was announced last month, with the news that a multibillion-dirham Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park is to be built in Dubai. This will be the first utility-scale production capacity park of its kind in the region. Introduced as a prelude to a host of new projects, the park has a projected production capacity of 10MW by 2013, rising to 1000MW by 2030. “Up to the year 2021, we will launch a range of initiatives and projects in all areas to achieve our goal. I ask everyone to prepare for a new phase in the growth of the UAE,” he added.

Bee’ah school competition shortlisted Creativity, innovation and 3Rs recognised in school programmes

First LEED certification for multiple projects awarded to LG Electronics Twenty student projects have been shortlisted in the Sharjah Environment Awareness Awards under the direction of the Emirate’s ruler H.H. Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qassimi. The ongoing competition was launched in 2010 through the Bee’ah School of Environment and is designed toincrease student awareness of the preservation of natural resources, waste disposal, water conservation and the creation of a sustainable environment. This year, new criteria have been added to address the adoption of green codes within the school for its ‘commitment to positive environmental habits’. The shortlisted projects have been selected for their creativity, innovation and implementation of the 3R’s. “Bee’ah places strong emphasis on awarding the schools, instead of individuals, for their sustainable projects,” explained Bee’ah CEO Khaled Al Huraimel. The winners will be announced in June.

Additional accolade for corporate model LG Electronics has been named the first company in the Middle East to receive a gold LEED certification for its multiple projects at Dubai’s Jebel Ali Freezone, which have achieved energy savings of 21.5% and potable water savings of 31.8%. In addition, 91.7% of construction waste has been diverted from landfills. The certification from the U.S. Green Building Council and Green Building Certification Institution (GBCI) was followed up with a further certificate from EHS, the regulatory arm of Trakhees. Contributing to the savings were LG’s LED lighting system; occupancy sensors in meeting rooms and corridors to automate lighting; and the Multi-V Variable Refrigerant Flow AC system. The building also includes a 30 kW on-grid solar photovoltaic system.

Yas project achieves 80% water savings

This was also the first site in the region to utilise sea water in an EPIC system installation. “The growing desire for the ultimate ‘green city’ must come coupled with an equal conviction EPIC system showcased with Aldar for sustainable steps to reach this desired outcome, especially when taking into account that irrigation is by far the largest use of water Irrigation solutions by EPIC Green Solutions, around the world,” said EPIC chairman and that have been demonstrated by developer Aldar CEO Charlie Fleifel. on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island, have achieved water Geoff Turnbull, planning and landscape savings of 80%. architecture representative for Aldar added: It’s one of a number of demonstrations “We are proud to join forces with EPIC Green across the UAE that also included Abu Dhabi’s Solutions to find sustainable solutions to better Al Sammaleah Island where the sub-surface manage scarce water resources in the region. This EPIC system was compared to a conventional initiative aligns with Aldar’s continuing efforts to top-surface irrigation system. Again, results promote green technologies that meet the longdemonstrated water savings of 80% compared to term demands of Abu Dhabi and demonstrate traditional systems. performance that blend functionality, environmental demands and aesthetics.” February 2012



DuPont announced zero landfill status 81 million pounds of waste diverted from landfill

Wild Guanabana founder one step closer to ‘7 summits’ challenge Green habits can Antarctica’s 4,892m Vinson save developing Massif conquered world from hunger One of the first companies to establish environmental goals more than 20 years ago, has announced that is has eliminated 81 million pounds of the waste it produces annually to achieve zero landfill status in its building innovations division. As a result of the initiative, none of the waste generated from the manufacture of DuPont’s Corian, solid surfaces; Zodiaq quartz surfaces; or Tyvek weatherisation systems, products and geosynthetic textiles is sent to landfills. The global effort, initiated across 15 sites, has seen the NYSE company recycle and reuse products within the division, such as scrap Corian being used for road surfaces and Carrier belt film being used to make adhesives. “The Drive to Zero landfill program is good for our business, good for the environment and highly valued by our customers,” said Timothy P. McCann, president of DuPont Building Innovations. “Working with our supply chain partners to tackle the zero landfill goal was critical to the success of our business in reducing its environmental footprint. Collaborating with our business partners allowed us to succeed in reaching our ambitious project goal of zero landfill.”

February 2012

Omar Samra, founder and CEO of the Middle East’s first Carbon neutral travel company, Wild Guanabana, has reached the peak of Antarctica’s highest mountain, the 4,892 metre Vinson Massif. The feat is part of his ‘7 summits’ challenge, which will see the Egyptian environmentalist climb the highest peak on each of the seven continents. “Climbing Vinson Massif has been one of the biggest challenges of my life and it feels incredible to have succeeded,” Samra is quoted as saying. “I am extremely grateful to those who have supported and sponsored me - this would never have been possible without them. I hope this will motivate and inspire others to chase their dreams, and also serve to highlight the environmental issues we are all facing and what we can all do to play our part,” he continued. At 33 years old, Samra became the youngest Arab and first Egyptian to climb Mount Everest; he is one of only 1,400 to have made it to the top of Vinson Massif. The emissions from the challenge- which began with Everest in 2007, are all being offset. To date, Samra has climbed Everest, Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, Carstenz Pyramid, Aconcagua, and Vinson Massif. Next year Samra will face Noth America’s 6,194 metre Denali. “I am now only one step away from my goal,” he added.

12 steps to save the world A senior researcher and project director from independent research body, The Worldwatch Institute, has published a report stating that the developing world can be alleviated from hunger, poverty, and the affects of climate change, if the rest of world follows a 12-step green lifestyle. Danielle Nierenberg, who also leads the institute’s ‘nourishing the planet’ project, recommends banning light bulbs, reducing food waste and buying indigenous produce. “With so many hungry and poor in the world, addressing these issues is critical,” said Nierenberg. “Fortunately, the solutions to these problems can come from simple innovations and practices,” she added. Nierenberg’s 12 steps are: recycle, both individually and through public sector programmes; reduce fossil fuel consumption with increased use of renewable and biofuels; replace incandescent light bulbs; reuse water bottles; conserve water; reduce AC use; reduce food waste on a personal and industrial scale; buy local produce; plant trees and gardens; compost organic waste; switch to ethically farmed meat and reduce consumption.


Special News REALLY?

The Green Queen of Windsor and the Greek Mathematician of Syracuse Partner for the Environment

BGreen’s Alice Hartley explains Windsor Castle’s hydroelectric power scheme


e all know of the deep affection Queen Elizabeth holds for her Greek-born consort of 64 years, Prince Phillip, but who would have known her love of all things Greek spans millennia? For now, after several failed attempts, the Queen has given a nod to the Ancients with the final turbine being installed this month on a hydroelectric scheme to power Windsor Castle. The second of two 40-tonne Archimedes turbines, which have the appearance of screws and based on the 2000-year-old design by Greek mathematician and engineer Archimedes of Syracuse, has been lowered into place on the Thames. The US$2.6 million (AED 9.6 million) hydroelectric project  will begin generating electricity from 2012, powering Windsor Castle and more than 300 homes.

February 2012

It took several years for the scheme to get under way: the royal household was unable to install the turbines itself as Windsor Castle lies on a stretch of the Thames owned by the UK’s Environment Agency. But the palace is helping to pay for the project by buying the electricity from a power company. Bear in mind that the British Royals can claim to have a heart of green, for the Queen already has a hydroelectric plant in Balmoral and the Prince of Wales has installed solar panels and wood chip boilers across his estate. It’s just that these Archimedes turbines are the biggest project so far in a drive by the royal household to cut electricity bills and reduce its carbon footprint. The Romney Weir hydroelectric project, as it is known, will generate both clean energy and improve the local natural environment, as a ‘’fish path’’ has been built alongside the weir to allow fish and eels to migrate up the river for the

first time in centuries. Twelve species of trout and perch as well as endangered eels will migrate the stretch; some fish for the first time in 214 years. It is estimated that the turbines, which will be powered by falling water from the weir, will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 790,000 kilos per year. And importantly for any accountant, the benefits of using water as an energy source is that the cost remains stable, unlike the price of gas and coal which fluctuates. Across the United Kingdom 370 licences have been granted for similar schemes. The UK Government has set the target for renewable energy: 15% of the country’s energy from a mix of renewable sources by 2020. Perhaps the GreenQueen has recognised that hydropower schemes can help meet renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction targets, and that Windsor Castle’s Romney Weir will contribute towards that.


Energy & Water

Municipal projects Some projects are too big for the private sector or grass roots movements to execute. BGreen rounds up the top municipality conservation projects of the last few years, that are helping businesses and the public at large to live green without sacrifice

Location: Dubai Project: 20-year waste management plan Last month, Dubai Municipality announced a 20-year waste management plan covering all categories of waste. Mott MacDonald is currently undertaking the development of an integrated waste management master plan on behalf of Dubai Municipality which will provide a structure for waste management until 2030.

“Dubai Municipality is not only responding to the current demand for efficient and effective waste management but also safeguarding economic growth and social development as well through its integrated approach to a sustainable and innovative waste management system,” commented Eng. Abdulmajeed Abdulaziz Saifaie, director of waste management, during dedicated workshops on the plans.

Location: Dubai Project: Phantom flush Saving: Last year 500 urinals were installed in Dubai’s public places that do not require water to flush. Enlisting Falcon WaterFree Technologies saves an average of 40,000 gallons or 151,000 litres of water each year, per unit. Using replaceable cartridges of liquid sealants to ‘flush’ away waste, a drain trap is created while the liquid sealant seals the urine and odour within the cartridge. The product was first marketed in the UAE in 2008 and is now provided by a number of different suppliers, such as Duravit and its McDry, which is installed in a number of McDonalds restaurants. “In water-scarce scenarios, water-less urinal technology can play an important role in saving precious water,” said Leandro Bantug, MD for the project’s supplier, Design International Selections, in an interview with H20 Magazine. Saving: 151,000 litres of water per year, per unit.

February 2012

Location: Fujairah Project: ‘Heroes of the UAE’ Fujairah Municipality took part in the ‘heroes’ programme to raise public awareness of energy challenges facing the Emirate. Till date, more than 50,000 energy saving light bulbs have been distributed to residents free of charge. The project was delivered in partnership with Emirates Wildlife Society and the World Wide Fund for Nature (EWSWWF). Since this initiative, the two have also partnered on the protection of the Emirate’s Wadi Wuraya and surrounding mountain range.

Energy & Water

Location: Abu Dhabi Project: Rooftop retrofit Not only increasing the efficiency of utility usage, Abu Dhabi Municipality is also maximising unused space in the built environment by installing solar panels and planting gardens on the rooftops of buildings. The solar project is a three-phase integrated power management programme, to enhance the sustainability of all government buildings. The programme is now in its final phase since its inception in March 2010, and is projected to reduce energy consumption from traditional methods by 25-30% upon completion. Savings of 8% were recorded in 2010. “The Municipality is always keen on adopting environmental and health policies that maintain the community’s security and safety by adopting welldefined and regulated power consumption rationalisation programmes that also contribute to the development projects by bringing down the costs of wasted energy; which in turn reflects positively on the local economy and adds to the domestic product and national income,” said Engineer Salah Awadh Al Sarraj, who was Acting Executive Director of Town Planning when the project launched. Saving: 30% of energy needs are expected to be generated by the solar panels

Location: Ajman Project: Screening from source Ajman, home of the Green Sheikh, is known for its green living philosophies and imparting them on citizens begins early in life. Last year, Ajman Educational Area and the Department for Environment, actioned a recycling programme called ‘screening from source’, which saw cardboard, metal cans, plastic and paper collected and reinforced with education days in the Emirate’s nurseries. In addition, the Public Health and Environment Department established a working group that distributed 20,000 educational bulletins to residents and arranged a cleanliness campaign across the Emirate.

Location: Sharjah Project: Bee’ah Faced with a litter problem, last year the Government of Sharjah collaborated with Bee’ah to implement fines ten times higher than ever before. Initiated with a new bylaw, the fines were introduced to tackle waste in and around the Khalid Lagoon area. Under the guidance of Sharjah’s leader, His Highness Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Bee’ah has launched a number of other community initiatives. Today the semigovernment entity has 2000 employees and dedicated divisions for medical waste, street cleaning and education. The municipality also offers advice on the disposal of detergents, cooking oil, and pharmaceutical products on its website.

Location: Abu Dhabi Project: Green-lit streets While the city isn’t literally lit up green, the replacement of sodium bulbs with LED across the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, is estimated to save between AED500 million and AED1 billion; including the cost of replacing each of the 620,000 street lights once over the next 20 years. The savings will be made despite the bulbs costing an average 40% more than the traditional type. Abu Dhabi isn’t the first city to use more efficient bulbs for street lights; cities across America – including LA, San Francisco and Pittsburgh; Hungary and Singapore have also gone green. Location: Ras Al Khaimah Project: Solar islands Energy is a big issue in Ras Al Khaimah, where intensive industrial work drains much of the grid, leaving little supply for the general population. One of the zanier solutions for this is the ‘solar islands’ project by the Swiss CSEM, in collaboration with RAKIA and FEWA, the local energy and water authority. CSEM says the solar island platform is the biggest high precision solar tracking surface today in the world today. The facility will be opened to joint solar energy development projects involving industry and universities. CSEM has also stated it has ability to assist in increasing the efficiency of the power plants at Al Hamra and Al Ghail.

February 2012


Energy & Water

Inside WFES In his opening speech on Monday January 16, UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon called for urgent attention to be paid to fuel poverty on a global scale.


ddressing hundreds of delegates and members of the press at the opening press conference for the 2012 World Future Energy Summit (WFES) at Abu Dhabi’s National Exhibition Centre, he said: “It is not acceptable that three billion people have to rely on wood, waste and charcoal for their energy needs.” Admitting that it was still only “half the solution”, Moon then reiterated the need to “turn down the thermostat”, by reducing green house gas emissions by 50% by 2050. Sustainable development is his top priority for his second five year term with the UN. “This is the right time for this Initiative,” he continued. “Across the world we see momentum building for concrete action that reduces energy poverty, catalyzes sustainable economic growth, and mitigates the risks of climate change. Achieving sustainable energy for all is both feasible and necessary. My Initiative will help us meet these objectives simultaneously. It can be a triple win for all.”   His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, deputy supreme commander of the UAE armed forces and chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, inaugurated the summit.

Japan to “reduce dependence on nuclear power” Energy policy to be reviewed based on “four pillars” In a meeting with HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, Vice Chairman of the Supreme Council of Energy (SCE) for Dubai, Japan’s vice minister of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, HE Mitsuyoshi Yanagisawa, stated that Japan is to reduce its dependence on nuclear power. Yanagisawa stated that the country is currently drafting an energy policy, which takes into account last year’s earth quake, and resulting tsunami and nuclear disaster at Fukushima. “Japan is working on re-establishing its infrastructure after the earthquake and is reviewing its energy policy based on four pillars, which are: strengthening energy conservation, promotion of renewable energy, clean utilisation of fossil fuels and reducing dependence on nuclear power. “We look forward also to maintaining our long-term long term partnership with the UAE government in the oil and gas and power generation sectors,” Yanagisawa said.

Dubai has the largest Japanese community in the Middle East, with 200 companies based in the Emirate. Japanese transmission, distribution and generation techniques are used in the UAE’s energy industry and offers were made to accommodate displaced Japanese residents in after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. DEWA has also granted permission for a Japanese consortium to be included in the bid for the Hassyan Independent Power Plant project. In the Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030, it is pledged that 5% of all energy will be provided by solar power and that the recently announced Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park will play a large part in achieving the targets, with technical assistance possibly coming from Japan. “We will try to look at possibilities of exchanging carbon credits and leveraging on Japan’s knowledge in this field,” commented Supreme Council for Energy member, Waleed Salman.

Japan is working on re-establishing its infrastructure after the earthquake and is reviewing its energy policy based on four pillars”

February 2012



Energy & Water

Lexus Hybrid portfolio to double in 2012 Two current models displayed at WFES

The future is bright STAND: Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park unveiled at WFES The Supreme Council of Energy (SCE) for Dubai showcased a model of Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park during the World Future Energy Summit, which will produce 5% of the Emirate’s total energy needs by 2030. Commenting on the solar park, SCE vice chairman HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, said the park was an “advanced model of power production, which achieves our leaders’ aspirations to diversify sources of energy”. “This solar park will significantly enhance our efforts to achieve sustainable development, which is the cornerstone of our projects to achieve prosperity for everyone, for generations to come,” said HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, Vice Chairman of the SCE, who added the summit was a “great opportunity” to share expertise. Currently Dubai generates 99% of its electricity from gas and 1% from fuel. At present 4.5 MW is being produced by solar energy by some private sector utilities in locations such as at Jebel Ali, Jumeirah Palm Island, the Meydan Project, and car parking meters under supervision of The SCE. The projected 5% to be generated by solar energy, may increase to 10% in future as costs decrease.

Tomorrow’s problem; yesterday’s solution The science may have been known for 3000 years but new technology means submarine springs could be used to solve a modern challenge

February 2012


uxury car brand Lexus is to double its hybrid portfolio by the end of 2012 with two new mid-market models. Displaying its ‘entry level’ CT200H and flagship LS600H models during WFES, Al Futtaim Motors general manager Saud Abbasi said Lexus’ presence in the Middle East market would become “fairly aggressive” this year. “There are two reasons we at WFES: We like to support what it stands for, but secondly we want to give the message to the UAE market place that customers have options available today,” said Abbasi. “We were the first to bring hybrid technology to the market and our plan this year onwards is that we make the options more prolific,” he added. The cars run solely on electric motors when travelling at speeds of up to 40kmph; automatically switching to the petrol engine as higher speeds are achieved. The electric battery pack self generates by harnessing kinetic energy produced from the heat of brake pads, removing the need to ‘plug in’ the car. The petrol engine can also recharge the batter on longer, high speed journeys. The battery is designed to last for the lifetime of the car. “There is a design philosophy that applies to this called the ‘yet

philosophy’, which says you are challenged to combine two seemingly opposite things and make them work together. So high power and output of the engine, yet extremely fuel efficient. This is achieved in every way from the aerodynamics to the ergonomics; you have a highly functional space,” commented Abbasi The LS600H model was first introduced in 2008. In worldwide tests, the latest version uses 9.3 litres of fuel per 100km. First introduced in February 2011, the CT200H achieved 4.1 litres per 100km. The cars are priced at AED 463,000 and AED 138,000 respectively. Commenting that the driving experience of both cars is “phenomenal”, Abbasi said the technology is “probably the most sophisticated in the world”. “In a normal Lexus there will be three computers supporting the car and on a hybrid model there are five. We refine that technology year on year, so our batter pack and electric motor are the most efficient.” Mid-2012 a hybrid version of the GS450H will be introduced with a fourth hybrid model unveiled “at the end of the year”. “Could all Lexus models be available as hybrids soon? The technology is there so it’s just a case of making a business model for it,” Abbasi added.

It’s a natural phenomenon that helped Syria resist attack from the Roman Empire 2500 years ago, but only now is the technology being developed to harvest the water – without the need for energy – from submarine springs around the Middle East. Pioneered by French company with government backing, the science is simple; without the need for energy-intensive pumps, fresh water can be harvested from the springs for industrial use or even human consumption. The naturally regenerating springs are located where there is oil; they cannot be ‘over-harvested’ and the salinity of the water coming from them – when properly extracted – is around 0.4grams per litre. The salinity of sea water is 40g/l. The company behind the technology is Nymphea, which is run locally by commercial director Michael Becker, whose geologist father, ‘discovered’

Energy & Water

solar panel coatings

Siemens Energy and Masdar Institute of Science and Technology have signed an agreement to cooperate further on solar technology research and development, specifically related to the use of photovoltaic panels (PV) in the Middle East. An extension of an existing agreement “Higher profits gained with solar panels that become less soiled and cost less to clean are an important lever for making photovoltaic electricity competitive, especially in desert regions,” commented CEO of Siemens Energy PV business unit, Martin Pfund Joint testing and research activities will focus on investigating the properties of solar panel coatings. Siemens Energy Middle East is currently constructing a Center of Excellence in building technologies at Masdar, described as an “anchor presence”.

the phenomenon when he saw goats that appeared to be drinking sea water in Greece. Today the enterprise is part of construction conglomerate VINCI group, and Nymphea is the only known company with such technology. “The greatest challenge is convincing people this really exists. I presented our technology and findings to a company in Istanbul and at the end of the presentation, the guy just said ‘I don’t believe you’.

“They have never heard of this before, they are dubious that it hasn’t already been news before,” said Becker, adding that the Middle East is far more “open minded” about new technology. Involved in a massive R&D programme for a decade, Nymphea now has a regional presence and is working with governments to conduct tests on the local landscape and seabeds, with contracts in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Qatar, with the highest potential for

Siemens and Masdar Institute sign solar study agreement One year agreement to investigate properties of

Siemens has also completed an an engineering and design study into postcombustion facilities for the EMAL power plant at Al Taweelah in Abu Dhabi. In 2011, revenue from Siemens’ envrionemental portfolio totaled €30 billion. “Research to date has shown that solar panel surfaces that have been manipulated and functionalised need less water for cleaning,” explained Masdar’s Dr. Matteo Chiesa. “We have reached this conclusion by making extensive use of atomic force microscopy, which enables us to explore nanoscale phenomena. We are looking for explanations so that these advances can be applied under real operating conditions and are investigating ways of optimizing the functionality of the panel surfaces. One of the aims of our collaboration with Siemens is to promote regional deployment of solar energy,” Chiesa added.

exploration on the border of Iran. Prior to the political unrest, 34 springs were discovered in Libya. “There is a lot of needs for fresh water off shore in this region because of the high off shore activity linked to oil rigs and now for example the UAE has a strategy to increase their off shore oil production. To do this they need to inject fresh water into the oil reservoir, so they need a huge amount of water.”

February 2012


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KRAMER COMMENT Energy & Water Schemes that work in one country do not necessarily have to work equally well in another jurisdiction.�

Creating a viable solar market Dr. Michael Krämer, senior associate at international law firm Taylor Wessing discusses ways to develop a solar investment scheme that suits the needs of the Gulf region.


he Gulf region is blessed with infinite amounts of solar energy. In theory, there is hardly any need to generate energy from other sources. There are, of course, a number of stumbling blocks that will need to be overcome, but tapping into the vast supply of solar energy that is freely available to us here in the Gulf does not have to remain a romantic vision. Dubai has just announced its plans for the Mohamed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, which is supposed to have a total capacity of 1 giga watt (GW) once completed in 2030. While this is a great start to a better and cleaner future, it should be considered a starting point and not the final solution. Putting things into perspective, 1GW of solar capacity is

an amount that more densely populated countries with incentive schemes for solar energy generation install on average in just one month! Governmental investments into renewable energy are a great start and can pave the way for a viable solar market coming into existence. Such investments cannot, however, actually create such a market. The actual breakthrough will only happen if private investors start investing into the generation of solar energy. It is only then that substantial financial resources are being mobilized, which are capable of changing the energy generation landscape of a country. Private investments into solar require a solid legal framework which provides the basis for the investment to be viable. No investor, whether private or public, will invest if the prospects of making a profit

or even recouping the investment are bleak. Taylor Wessing advises clients who are active in the Renewables industries in various jurisdictions through its offices in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. There are, of course, lessons to be learned from all the different approaches the governments in various countries take in encouraging private investment into the generation of renewable energy. Schemes that work in one country do not necessarily have to work equally well in another jurisdiction. Although best practices exist, some modifications may have to be made in order to create a solution that works best for the country in which such a scheme is supposed to be applied. Our firm has just recently joined forces with the Emirates Solar Industry

February 2012




Dubai has just announced its plans for the Mohamed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, which is supposed to have a total capacity of 1 giga watt (GW) once completed in 2030”

Association (ESIA), many members of which are active in the solar industry around the globe. In addition, given that our firm has been operating in Dubai since 1996 (previously under the name of Key and Dixon), we are representing many local trading families, some of which are very keen on exploring the opportunities that come with the creation of a solar market in a region such as the Gulf with its ideal environment for the use and application of solar technologies. We are in the process of bringing together global players from the renewables industries with local parties including local utilities in order to jointly develop strategies and ultimately a framework that will be the basis of a viable solar market here in the Gulf region. As a first step, we are preparing a questionnaire that we will be sending out to representatives of all relevant areas, such as utilities, solar (PV, CPV, CSP) solution providers and also providers of ancillary solar solutions, such as solar cooling and solar desalination. The aim of this exercise will be to compile assessments of all involved parties of the current situation and views on how matters could be improved in order to create a viable solar market. The next step will then be to define basic requirements, with which a future incentive scheme will have to comply in order to benefit all parties involved.

February 2012

Solar solution providers, for example, will be interested in high incentives, which make investments into their technologies more appealing to private investors. Utility companies here in the region that due to high subsidies on energy consumption will arguably operate at a loss, are likely to be interested in generating energy more cost efficiently as they are currently able to. Last, but not least, policy makers will have a vital interest in the cost involved. Government backed incentive schemes will have to be financed, which can be difficult, while incentive schemes that operate by putting the financial burden on the general public (such as most feedin tariff schemes) will inevitably result in (slightly) higher electricity bills. Further factors, such as mandatory participation of the local industries may play a role as well. Despite these partially contradicting interests there will be a common denominator, around which an incentive scheme can be built. Possible scenarios for a beneficial incentive scheme are as follows: A model that has worked rather well in some countries is the introduction of feed-in tariffs (tariffs that are being paid to homeowners who feed self generated solar energy back into the public grid). Homeowners are being encouraged to invest in solar energy generation by paying them a guaranteed price per KWh for a set

period of time. Such a tariff is usually set at a level, which allows the homeowner to recoup his investment during a timeframe that is shorter than the time for which the payment is guaranteed, thus leaving the homeowner a profit once the installation is fully paid off. Although a great tool in principle, the introduction of feed-in tariffs will inevitably lead to higher electricity costs for end consumers, at least until such time when solar electricity generation has reached “grid parity” (which means that the cost of generation of solar energy is equal to that of conventional energy generation). The tariff that utilities are legally obliged to pay to investors is usually higher than the amount utility providers charge their customers. This leaves the utility companies with reduced profits, which the utilities will aim to recoup from their customers, thus resulting in higher electricity costs. Higher electricity bills can be avoided if self-use of all generated solar energy is encouraged. Under such a scheme homeowners are obliged to use all the energy they produce themselves without feeding it back into the grid. This results in the relevant utility company having to supply only a smaller amount of electricity, which constitutes a saving for all utilities that are forced to sell electricity at a loss, such as those in this region. Some part of these savings could be diverted to the homeowner, thus providing further incentive to invest into the generation of renewable energy without any party losing out. A typical win-win situation. The possibilities are endless and there will be a scheme that suits the needs of the Gulf countries as well. Taylor Wessing is determined to assist in finding the right solution and preparing the legal basis for a solar market that benefits all parties involved. We cannot do it alone, however, and therefore invite all interested parties to assist us in our quest.

To contact Dr. Krämer, email: m.kraemer@

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Doing it sustainably Down Under From the introduction of a price on carbon, to the development of a leading independent green building rating system, Australian’s sustainability star is on the rise. Ben Watts reports

The current centre-left government has found itself playing a vital role in the country’s battle to cut its carbon emissions”

February 2012


t is the land that gave us AC/DC, Crocodile Dundee and Home and Away, but away from the realm of popular culture Australia is fast becoming known within construction circles for its adoption of sustainable design and building. Considered the leading proponent of carbon-cutting construction techniques within the Asia Pacific region, the country is now playing a leading role in spreading the word of sustainability to its neighbours. Through the work of domestic organisations such as the Green Building Council

of Australia (GBCA), and through its government’s introduction of a tax on carbon, the country has featured high among the ecoheadlines of the past few months. The country has been looking to clean up its act following revelations in a 2011 survey by global risk management company Maplecroft that placed Australia among the top six worst offenders for CO2 emissions per capita in the world — a list that included the likes of the UAE and Saudi Arabia. The current centre-left government has found itself playing a vital role in the country’s battle to cut its carbon emissions by introducing taxes designed to target emission-heavy industries.


Grocon developed a new structural concrete design with the ability to halve the embodied carbon within the concrete mix”

Supporters of the Carbon Tax at a rally in Brisbane last July.

Melbourne’s colourful Pixel Building was the first building to achieve a perfect Green Star score.

HD Sustainability Completed in July 2010, the Pixel Building in Melbourne became Australia’s first carbon-neutral building. Located on the site of the old Carlton Brewery site, this office building scored a perfect 105 points on the Green Star rating system. Designed by Studio505 and built by construction and design firm Grocon, the energy-efficient building has been designed to be able to generate its own energy and collect its own water. Awarded the highest ever Green Star rating, the Pixel building was designed to achieve LEED ‘Platinum’ status, as well as an ‘Outstanding’ BREEAM score. Grocon chief executive officer Daniel Grollo describes the building as “a prototype of the office of the future”. Along with its self-sufficient water supply, this unique structure features an extensive photovoltaic array on the roof of the building, of which the majority of fixtures have been mounted on a tracking device designed to follow the course of sun throughout the year. To construct the building, Grocon developed a new structural concrete design with the ability to halve the embodied carbon within the concrete mix. The building provides 100 per cent daylight penetration into the office space and it was also the first project in Australia to implement small scale vacuum toilet technology.

Taxing times With Australia’s resources sector booming many outside observers have found themselves impressed with Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s resolve in pushing a controversial tax on carbon through the Federal Parliament. In the face of fierce opposition from a range of businesses, industry organisation and political groups, Gillard managed to get the Carbon Tax bill through both houses of the country’s Parliament in Canberra. The country’s leading green building organisation was among the first environmental groups to welcome the introduction of the Carbon Tax. “While carbon-intensive options will cost more, low-carbon and more carbonefficient solutions will become more affordable,” says Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) chief executive Romilly Madew. “We’re surprised by how many organisations seem to miss the point,” she adds. “The more carbon-intensive options are meant to cost more — that’s the intention of a carbon price.” In pushing through the tax, Australia became one of the only carbonconstrained economies on the planet, giving sustainable industry the chance to breathe and develop as the country looks to meet ambitious international carbon reduction targets. As its attempts to make the most out of its resource boom, the incumbent Australian Government has also introduced the Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT), which would increase the amount of Federal income from carbonintensive businesses through the placement of a 30 per cent levy on the “super profits” of the country’s iron ore and coal mining giants. While leading opposition figure and WA Premier Colin Barnett describes the MRRT as a “stupid, ill-conceived, inept proposal”, Government treasurer Wayne Swan says that opposing the MRRT would mean “voting for higher taxes for small business and lower retirement savings for the Australian people”. Gillard Labor-led government has succeeded in pushing through its Carbon Tax bill, which is scheduled to come online in July 2012, but huge opposition from the Coalition opposition against the proposed MRRT may mean it has a struggle on its hands in getting the latter tax off the ground. Either way, Government Senate leader Chris Evans seems to perfectly sum up the introduction of the Carbon Tax. “For the first time, Australia will have a price on carbon and a comprehensive plan to reduce pollution and invest in the clean energy technologies of the future,” remarks Evans.

February 2012




A rising star With the government providing the emphasis and support required to get the ball rolling on its target of cutting the country’s high carbon footprint, the construction sector’s commitment to sustainable design and building has also blossomed into life. Growing in terms of its global influence, and competing with the

likes of BREEAM and LEED, is the GBCA’s very own Green Star building environmental rating system. This national scheme evaluates the environmental design and construction of buildings across Australia and Green Starcertified space currently totals more than 4 million square metres. From Bendigo Bank’s ‘5 Star office’ headquarters in Victoria, to the 40-hectare

2 Victoria Avenue is one of Western Australia’s most environmentallysustainable office spaces.

Victorian chic Perth’s 2 Victoria Avenue is an office building with a 6 Star Green Star rating. The building has won a range of awards including the 2010 Ross Chisolm Award for Commercial Architecture and the 2010 Walter Greenham Sustainable Architecture Award at the AIA WA Chapter Awards. This stylish building features individually-monitored automated external louvers, wind turbines, active chilled beam mechanical services, peak energy reduction, and extensive cyclist end of trip facilities A previous recipient of the WA Property of the Year award, 2 Victoria Avenue’s form has been described by its designers Woodhead as “clean and legible”, as well as “one of the most environmentally-sustainable commercial buildings in Perth”.

Sydney’s pearl 1 Bligh Street was completed in June 2011 and became Australia’s highest Green Star-rated commercial high-rise building. This unique office tower in the heart Sydney’s Central Business District aimed to change the face of commercial office development in Australia as it looked to benefit both the built environment and the greater environment as a whole. This 42,853m² space is co-owned by DEXUS Funds Management Ltd, DEXUS Wholesale Property Ltd and CBUS Property Pty Ltd and was built by Grocon.

1 Bligh Street is located in Sydney’s financial heart.

February 2012

‘6 Star retail’ Orion Springfield Town Centre in southeast Queensland, Green Star-rated buildings that live and breathe a ‘green’ philosophy are popping up across the country. Today Australia literally has dozen of buildings that it can show off to the world as prime examples of what it takes to design, construct and deliver an environmentally-conscious structure.

Building a renewable arena In spite of all the political rhetoric and sound bites regarding the introduction of the two resources industry-targeted taxes introduced by Julia Gillard’s Labor-led government, both sides of the country’s elected parliament came together late last year to approve the establishment of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). This organisation, which demonstrates how two sides of the same coin can come together, has been introduced to assemble and streamline more than US$3.2 billion in Commonwealth support for the renewable energy sector and forms a major part of the Government’s carbon package. Back in November a spokesperson for resources and energy minister Martin Ferguson said: “ARENA is an important part of the Government’s Clean Energy Future package and will streamline support for renewable energy.” ARENA may have won the support of the official opposition, but Coalition resources spokesperson Ian Macfarlane has warned that its backing “should not be taken as carte blanche approval of some of the programmes to be administered by the proposed ARENA”. Macfarlane has, however, since stated that it was reassuring to see that ARENA would provide “some semblance of a structure for policy and programme development in energy and resources, since the government has failed to do so”. “This is a second chance for the Government,” he remarks. “ARENA will not only have to administer the renewable energy sector, it will actually have to be a miracle worker to give the government a lead and show it how it should manage money and not waste billions and billions of dollars.”

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HLG Construction Managing Waste

Waste and Recycling in the UAE Habtoor Leighton Group’s senior sustainability engineer, Wissam Yassine PQP LEED AP PMP, shares his case study reusing the waste created in construction and demolition — a sector accounting for 60% of the UAE’s total waste generation


he UAE infamously has one of the highest per capita waste generation rates in the world. To put it in numbers, an average UAE resident produces 3150 kg of waste annually, 6 times the amount of waste generated by an average French resident. Currently more than 75% of that waste ends up in landfill; this constitutes an important lost opportunity for recycling waste and gaining environmental and economic benefits. The Centre of Waste Management in Abu Dhabi estimates that the UAE economy loses AED 1.5 billion a year due to landfilling waste which can be otherwise recycled into useful products. Tapping into this lost opportunity starts by understanding the breakdown of waste in the UAE.

February 2012

Figure 1 demonstrates that the construction and demolition sector is responsible for more than 60% of the total waste generated in the UAE, far more than any other sector. Clearly, the construction industry can reveal great benefits by developing programmes that segregate and recycle construction waste. Construction recycling at Arzanah Medical Complex One such pilot programme was developed by Habtoor Leighton Group (HLG) for the Arzanah Medical Complex construction project in Abu Dhabi, a project aiming to be the first LEED Gold certified health care facility in the Middle East. The programme was an instant success and resulted in diverting 70% of construction waste from landfills.

LCA is a technique to assess environmental impacts associated with all the stages of a product or a process life from-cradle-to-grave”

HLG Construction Managing Waste


We believe greater emphasis should be placed by construction and engineering professionals on recycling construction waste, as this study demonstrates the significant environmental and human health benefits achieved by recycling”

In total, 3061 tonnes of construction waste was generated during the 20-month period since HLG started working on the project. Of this, 2148 tonnes were recycled or reused and only 913 tonnes were sent to landfills. The breakdown of waste generated and how it was handled is demonstrated in figure 2. Life cycle assessment To fully appreciate the environmental benefits of the recycling programme, we modelled outcomes using Life Cycle Assessment. LCA is a technique to assess environmental impact associated with all the stages of a product or process fromcradle-to-grave (i.e., from raw material extraction to disposal or recycling). The power of LCA lies in its ability to quantify the environmental benefits achieved by a certain environmental programme by comparing it to the business-as-usual scenario. Many tools are available to help conduct an LCA of processes or products. These make use of readily available environmental impact databases of all possible “unit processes”. The benefits of our waste recycling programme mainly stems from avoiding the extraction of the virgin material which the recycled material replaces, and avoiding the impact of landfilling the waste material. To quantify these benefits, we used an LCA software, SimaPro 7.3, to model both the recycling process and the business-as-usual process whereby waste is sent to landfills. By comparing the lifecycle impact of these two processes, we were able to determine the reduced impact achieved by the recycling programme.

Environmental benefits The results of the LCA (Figure 3) demonstrate that the recycling programme had significant environmental benefits across the four impacts categories which are human health, ecosystem quality, climate change and resource use. The most significant benefits are in the human health category. This can be attributed to the fact that recycling avoids the extraction and processing of virgin material, which usually has a detrimental health impact on workers. Another significant result is that recycling of steel is responsible for most of the environmental benefits, although in terms of weight it represents only 10% of the total recycled material. This demonstrates that per unit weight, recycling steel has a significantly higher environmental and human health benefits compared to recycling other materials. Since recycling steel is also very economical, most waste steel in the majority of construction sites around the world is captured and reintroduced into the supply chain, resulting in an average of 80% recycled content in a typical steel product. Green buildings The total climate change benefits of the construction waste recycling programme are equivalent to avoiding 108,120 kg of CO2 emissions. That is equivalent to the CO2 emitted in producing 180,200 kWh of electricity, enough to power a typical UAE apartment for 5 years! Yet, construction waste recycling is often viewed as just another point

collected in a green building rating system, with the focus often on optimising the building energy and water performance. While energy and water consumption are indeed important, we believe greater emphasis should be placed by construction and engineering professionals on recycling construction waste, as this study demonstrates the significant environmental and human health benefits achieved by recycling. This should also be complemented by government investments in modern and efficient construction waste recycling facilities, along with legislation to ban dumping construction waste in landfills, which is something we are starting to see in the UAE. Finally, an important challenge facing construction waste recycling going forward is the misconception about the quality and reliability of construction material made from recycled content. This results in enormous quantities of recycled materials being left behind at recycling plants as these materials are not being taken back by the market. This often leads to halting the operations of the recycling plants and sending recyclables to landfills, thus losing economic value and environmental benefits in the process. The solution would be to increase awareness of the performance of recycled material and to build trust through third party independent testing of the performance of recycled material. Authorities should also play a role by requiring the use of a certain percentage of recycled material in all new construction projects, thereby increasing the demand for recycled construction.

February 2012



Special Feature

Inhaling a toxic cocktail Up to 500 million litres of paint is manufactured in the UAE every year, yet there is no formal nation-wide regulation to prevent hazardous compounds being used. Following the news that Dubai Municipality is to test all paints and coatings intended for public buildings, Melanie Mingas writes about the toxic effects of paint and the least recognised element of sustainable building: human health

“Strict regulation is needed in this country for all building types and priority should be given to schools and hospitals�

February 2012


n January it was announced that Dubai Municipality is to begin conducting tests on all paints and coatings to be used in the Emirate’s public buildings to ensure they are not hazardous to human health. The tests, to be carried out at the Dubai Central Laboratory (DCL), will certify that materials to be used do not contain heavy metals or volatile organic compounds (VOC). Both are known to

be hazardous to human health in their own right, adversely affecting indoor air quality and the health of occupants. Compounding the problem, recent scientific tests have established that chemical compounds also react with the atmosphere to continue emitting harmful toxins. The new procedures follow a one day conference held in December 2011, during which more than 200 delegates discussed the most effective way for the municipality to tackle the issue in the

Special Feature

“Identifying these air toxins is part of a worldwide focus on identifying and controlling the cost to human health associated with modern living”

“The whole purpose of being in a building is to feel healthy”

absence of formal regulation, such as the region-wide bans seen in the US and parts of Europe. “Regulation to date is for government buildings, so the private sector still has that choice,” says Dr Moshood Olawale Fadeyi, assistant professor of sustainable design of the built environment at the British University in Dubai. “Strict regulation is needed in this country for all building types and priority should be given to schools and hospitals,” he adds. Dr Fadeyi’s has been conducting research in the field of indoor environments, energy and health, since 2004. Trained as an architect, building scientist and building services engineer, Dr Fadeyi also researches construction management, landscape, and urban planning. “Toxic paint raises concern for indoor air quality and that is why we must ensure the quality of all paint is environmentally friendly. The whole purpose of being in a building is to feel healthy, and you use paints to decorate the buildings. But the question now is, what kind of paint should we use?”

Sick buildings = sick people The combined ailments suffered by those exposed to atmospheric toxins, are collectively known as Sick Building Syndrome (SBS). While not uncommon, the science behind the phenomenon has only recently been realised. Ailments include irritated eyes, throat and respiratory system; headaches; dizziness; and concentration difficulties. The symptoms, alleviated when not in the affected area, not only affect health, but the productivity of occupants, particularly in work places. The atmospheric toxins aren’t just allergens, in the case of toxic paints they are heavy metals and VOCs. “For vulnerable people, such as those who are already ill, children, elderly people and people with history of respiratory health problem like asthma, they have a low immunity so this is really a concern,” says Dr Fadeyi. The highest rates of SBS occur in the workplace, particularly open plan offices, with research showing more incidents have been recorded by women than men – although it is thought this is due to the higher numbers of women working in office environments.

Elements of hazard: the by-products of indoor air chemistry The combination of VOC and ozone with other naturally occurring elements, such as heat, causes a reaction known as indoor air chemistry. Some of the toxins produced include: Formaldehyde – classified carcinogenic Secondary organic aerosol – soluble and toxic, the particles are smaller than the human red blood cell, meaning they can penetrate deep into the blood stream

February 2012



Special Feature

“The message here is that much needs to be done about VOC concentration in our indoor environment, especially those from paint,” Dr Fadeyi concludes. Isolating the issue While the regulations seen in the US and UK are still to be developed locally, the problem isn’t unique to the Middle East. In 2000, principal research scientist Stephen Brown, of Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, conducted a study on Australian homes that revealed tenants were exposed to “up to 20 times the maximum allowable limits of indoor air toxins”. “Identifying these air toxins is part of a world-wide focus on identifying and controlling the cost to human health associated with modern living,” commented Brown. The research also found that such compounds could be present in the atmosphere of newly built of decorated homes, for “at least ten weeks”. “The most potent sources are paints, adhesives and some wood-based panels. Further measurements in 27 suburban Melbourne residences more than a year after construction identified 27 airborne toxics. These included the carcinogens benzene, formaldehyde and styrene, and a cocktail of methanol, ethanol, acetone, toluene, dichlorobenzene plus a number

High incidences have also been recorded in museums, libraries and schools. Extensive research began in the 1970s, with scientists identifying poor ventilation; high temperatures; airborne and chemical pollutants; and ozone produced by photocopiers and printers, as leading culprits. The studies “There are numerous studies from European, North American and East Asian countries addressing this concern,” says Dr Fadeyi. “Despite this, little is known about UAE buildings’ VOC status and there are no conscious efforts or facilities for academics to address this concern. I came to this country more than two years ago and I was baffled about this situation,” he recalls, further commenting on the UAE’s pace of construction. Not only are the hazards of VOC well known, but the effects of using heavy metals have also been documented for millennia, with the ancient Greeks and Romans first documenting side effects in workers. In 370BC, it is said Hippocrates attributed a severe case of colic in a worker who extracted metals to lead exposure and in around AD50, Pliny the Elder recorded that workers painting ships with native ceruse – commonly known as white lead – wore loose bags

February 2012

over their faces to avoid breathing dust they considered to be noxious. Dr Fadeyi conducted investigatory IAQ studies in four air-conditioned office buildings in the UAE, using a handheld atmospheric monitor to measure VOC gas phase concentration, in addition to other toxins. The VOC concentrations recorded varied from 900 to 4500 µg/m3 – the recommended ‘comfort range’ as ascertained in a study by Canadian researcher Molhave, is less than 200µg/m3. Molhave’s study was first published at the fifth International Conference on Indoor Air Quality and Climate held at Toronto, Canada in 1990. During Dr Fadeyi’s research he also measured the toluene concentration, which averaged well above the recommended levels of less than 250 µg/ m3, reaching 1200 µg/m3.

Low VOC/ no VOC ‘No’ VOC does not mean the VOC content of a paint is zero. Regulations state that to be classed as ‘no VOC’, a paint cannot contain more than 5g/litre of VOC. Low VOC products are those that contain less than 50g/litre. Any paint with a VOC concentration of more than 50g/litre is considered to be high VOC.


Special Feature

“Sustainable design today is about energy and water conservation and carbon foot prints, but it is not about human health”

of less well-known toxins,” said Brown. There a misconception among the paint industry and consumers that once paint is dry it is no longer harmful. Yet following more recent research, it is now known that harmful by-products never fully leave the atmosphere. The phenomenon known as ‘indoor air chemistry’ is most simply explained as the continued reaction of volatile compounds with the surrounding atmosphere, long after the paint is deemed to be dry and therefore ‘safe’. “When VOC reacts with oxygen in the presence of sunlight, which is abundant in this environment, the ‘bad’ ozone, which is different to the ozone that protects us from the sun, will be formed. Thermal, light and visual and acoustic properties are other issues that need to be considered when choosing paints,” explains Dr Fadeyi. Green paint “Demand for environmentally conscious paints is increasing, especially in specifications for projects. In Abu Dhabi for example with the Pearl Rating system being applied to projects and there is more awareness of the health implications of various chemicals,” comments Jotun

February 2012

General Manager, Sverre Knudsen. It is in response to such demands that Jotun has launched its ‘green steps’ programme, a five-point strategy aligned with worldwide green building standards. The five-step programme will underpin Jotun’s R&D principles to eliminate all use of solvents and dangerous raw materials, while still producing the same finishes and effects. The Jotafloor paint has been specified for all the car parks at Masdar, Abu Dhabi. “Paint is chemical, so it will in general never be completely environmentally friendly, but our mission in Jotun is to that every development we do is towards greener results. “The better products used to be more expensive, but now they’re not and the more hazardous paints are being phased out,” Knudsen adds. The alternatives to solvent-based paints use acrylic technology to achieve the same dry times, durability and “Around the world where sustainable building practices is not only about energy and water savings but in addition these essential qualities, indoor occupants’ health and comfort performance and productivity are taken seriously. Is this the same with UAE? I will leave the

answer to the reader of this article,” comments Dr Fadeyi. “There is no strict law about these things and until the issue is taken seriously sustainable design will never be sustainable; sustainable design today is about energy and water conservation and carbon foot prints, but it is not about human health,” he concludes.

The full interview with Dr Fadeyi can be read at

Environmentally friendly and nonhazardous paints may be marked with any of these quality seals: Green seal Greenguard Master painter institute scientific certification system


Green IT

Green Laptops With electronics and home appliances constantly trying to outgreen each other, BGreen decided to take stock of the market leaders to see if green really is more than just a colour choice for these eco-friendly laptops.

February 2012

Green IT

Powered by the sun The world’s first solar PC has arrived. At a time when solar power has finally claimed its place as the golden child of the alternative energy market, the Samsung NC215S Solar Notebook has entered the scene on their US-based online store. The solar PC combines run-of-the-mill configurations of a conventional netbook with futuristic solar charging capabilities that have never before been successfully realised in the PC industry. The specs: The NC215S has a 10.1, 1024 x 600-pixel display and a highly portable weight of 1.3 kg. It runs on Intel Atom N570 (1.66 GHz) dual-core processor, with 1GB of RAM and a 250GB or 320GB drive. Retailing at US$399, this model could become the standard to which other green laptops may need to strive to, providing eco-friendly technology without the premium that usually comes with it. PICTURE 1: SAVED IN DROPBOX FOLDER AS NC215_Black_Solar_04 The Green bottom line: The Samsung NC215S operates in a similar way to a solar powered calculator— If you can see the sun, you have power. As a back-up, the laptop comes with an AC adapter. The solar laptop has exceeded Epeat Gold Standards in green criteria by more than 75%, which is the highest rating in consumer electronics for energy efficiency.

the world’s first ecocertified notebook happens to be largely bamboo-based”

Bamboo based and Ecocertified Bamboo has been lauded as a king among sustainable wood, primarily because it grows extremely fast with little water and virtually no chemicals. The last thing most people would associate this multitasking material with would be laptop computers, yet the world’s first eco-certified notebook happens to be largely bamboo-based. The Asus Bamboo series replaces its outer plastic components with treated bamboo as a means of cutting down carbon emissions without increasing the level of net global greenhouse gas emissions.

fitted with DDRII RAM. The green bottom line: The Bamboo Series uses Super Hybrid Engine technology (SHE) to cut down power consumption by up to 20%, which totals to roughly 12.3kg of CO2 emission per laptop yearly. Given that ASUS ships roughly 6 million notebooks per year, this adds up to 73.8 million kilograms of CO2 emission reduced per year, which equates to saving 36 million trees annually. Even the packaging has been streamlined to reduce waste, using recyclable paper and bamboo fleece.

The specs: The Asus Bamboo Series comes in a 12.1 inch model weighing 1.57kg and an 11.1 inch model weighing 1.25kg. Both house Intel® Core™2 Duo processors and are

Recycled parts The environmentally-friendly Sony Vaio W series that had hit stores across the Middle East in 2010 is no longer available for sale in the region. The W series still enjoys popularity overseas as these laptops are made mostly from recycled materials while retaining the price and product specifications of a standard laptop. The specs: As a means of increasing energy efficiency, the laptops hold a 7.5hour battery life. The 10.1-inch screen laptop comes with 1GB RAM, a 250GB hard drive and Windows 7 Starter Edition. The green bottom line: Over 80% of the plastic in each laptop is made from recycled materials. The LED screens are 100 percent mercury-free and they are shipped with significantly less packaging material.

February 2012



Eco-leisure GREEN GLOBE

Stamped for Sustainability The Green Globe Certification endorses the travel and tourism enterprises around the world that deliver what they set out to achieve. BGreen’s Hina Navin speaks with auditors and their hotels about the benchmark standard


co tourism is global responsibility that is gaining popularity with many leading names in the travel and tourism industry and their related suppliers actively adopting effective measures to reduce the negative impact on environment. Green Globe is a Premier Worldwide Certification process that assists such pioneering tour operators to measure their environmental impact and improvise their operations to reduce those impacts. “Green Globe is a sustainability certification with a special focus on the travel and tourism industry,” says Green Globe consultant and auditor Ramakrishna Bhadhya. Bhadhya is also deputy manager in the consulting division of Farnek Avireal; the UAE-based company that holds exclusive rights to utilise the Green Globe brand - the premier worldwide sustainability stamp for the tourism industry, including 20 different countries throughout the Middle East. Bhadhya explains, “The Green Globe brand represents the best in sustainable practice within the travel and tourism sector and provides certification, training and marketing services in 83 countries.” There are 41 criteria and 339 indicators in the standard of which the property under certification has to comply with the Mandatory requirements, along with 51% of the total applicable indicators. “The total applicable indicators

February 2012

would vary depending on the property itself viz., city hotel, resort, business premises and so on,” Bhadhya adds. “The role of certification is to drive sustainable management and operational practices. These help the property in reducing the use of electricity and water, increasing recycling of waste and also creating a better hotel experience. Overall it builds a better business and provides greater benefits to both staff and the local community.” Original, authentic The origins of the Green Globe organization can be traced back to the United Nations Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992, where 182 heads of state endorsed the agenda’s 21 principles on sustainable development. Two years later, the Green Globe membership program was established and in 2002, Green Globe Accreditation began to maintain the quality of assessment services offered through accredited certification bodies. The standards and criteria for certification cover four major categories: Environmental, cultural heritage, social and economic criteria, and sustainable management. Within each are specific, and comprehensive, criteria to be fulfilled for each application. Green Globe is also partnered with organizations such as Rainforest Alliance Certified, to further approve the products sold with each member hotel. Assessing the hotels are 52 accredited auditors operating on

Hotels are, on occasion, unfairly accused of ‘talking the talk’ when it comes to sustainability, so receiving a stamp of approval from an impartial and credible international organisation is very pleasing” behalf of Green Globe World Wide, with 17 based in Germany alone. They are trained and sent to audit the world’s largest hotel brands, including Intercontinental, Le Meridien, Concorde and Crowne Plaza, among many others.

GREEN GLOBE Eco-leisure The Movenpick chain has one of the highest rates of greenglobe membership. The lobby of the Ibn Battuta Gate, Dubai, is pictured left.

“Engaging our employees was a crucial first step in securing buy-in ahead of rolling the programme out to our other key stakeholders, and we have developed a hotel-wide sustainability training programme which is a requisite for each individual team member from the top down,” remarked Bonnot.

Hundreds of smaller and boutique hotels and resorts are also registered on the scheme. Accreditation in UAE The UAE’s first Green Globe Certified hotel was The Palace, part of the Burj Khalifa development in Downtown Dubai, part of The Address group of hotels. One of the highest membership rates seen world-wide is that of Movenpick Group, which has already seen all its UAE properties certified and is currently in the process of gaining certification for all its remaining global properties. One of those hotels is Ibn Battuta Gate, Dubai. “Ibn Battuta Gate Hotel in Dubai recently underwent a comprehensive sustainability audit and scored consistently across an extensive series of operational criteria. The hotel was successfully accredited by the internationally-recognised Green Globe certification and achieved 88% compliance to the Green Globe Standards,” adds Bhadhya. Philippe Bonnot, hotel general manager, says, “Hotels are, on occasion, unfairly

accused of ‘talking the talk’ when it comes to sustainability, so receiving a stamp of approval from an impartial and credible international organisation is very pleasing.” With its ground-breaking INNcontrol II™ software, the Hotel is able to maximise on energy efficiency and make substantial cost savings through a highly individualised hotel-specific programme. “The hotel could see annual carbon emissions drop by up to 6250 tonnes per year as well as make substantial savings on utility costs equivalent to around US$5 per room night,” adds Markus Oberlin, general manager, Farnek Avireal. Other measures adopted by the hotel include the recycling of paper, plastic, aluminium, waste cooking oil and hazardous waste material that is collected with the help of a specialist recycling company in Dubai. The hotel also organises and participates in regular outdoor cleaning drives, with management also taking the unusual step of providing a used clothing recycling bank on the premises, in association with Gulf State Recycling.

Facts on Green Globe certification Green Globe is a completely paperless certification system Green Globe International is an affiliate member of the United Nations World Tourism Organization. WTTC is a shareholder in Green Globe International Green Globe Certification provides a competitive edge with improved operations and greater marketing opportunities Green Globe Certification brand has been recognized by business and leisure travelers for more than 15 years Green Globe Certification system reduces operating costs, documents the savings and increases the value of travel and tourism businesses Green Globe Certification contributes to the sustainability of the tourism destination The Green Globe Certification standard for sustainability covers more than 20 different kinds of travel and tourism businesses

February 2012




Hotel on a mission With an award winning conservation initiative, BGreen’s Hina Navin finds out about Abu Dhabi’s Millennium Hotel and its quest to lead by example


breath of green is what people need nowadays for the worthy cause of protecting the environment,” says Moine Kandil, Director of Operations for Millennium Copthorne Hotels and Resorts in the Middle East and Africa. Also former general manager of Millennium Hotel, Abu Dhabi, Kandil orchestrated a green revolution among the hotel’s staff by constantly demonstrating their

February 2012

ecological consciousness in action. “The paramount mission of the programme started in 2006, when changes were made from the start, where the behavioural patterns of the staff were gradually changed through educational campaigns and awareness programmes,” he elaborates. “We were always looking for innovative yet practical solutions in becoming more eco responsible by encouraging new techniques and technologies to preserve resources, conserve energies and

You cannot just take things away from guests to make them go green, but you can implement changes without sacrificing taste and style”


The behavioural patterns of the staff were gradually changed through educational campaigns and awareness programmes

reduce pollution,” he adds, ensuring that this committment continues to this day, with staff supporting and participating in “all possible forums, networking events, conferences, focus groups, workshops, charity and fundraising events, all pertaining to this subject.” Positive approach The initiatives began on July 2 2006 when the staff completed their first cleaning campaign in and around the hotel grounds and the surrounding Khalifa Street area. This was repeated on September 20 of the same year, when Abu Dhabi Municipality and the Chamber of Commerce joined the efforts for a public cleaning campaign on Al Ras Al Akhdar public beach. Since then such campaigns have been held twice a year. “The second part of the programme utilises local products made in the UAE, such as as vegetables, meats, fruits and dairy products, in order to reduce pollution through transportation and fuel

consumption,” Kandil explains. The Hotel also grows its own supply of mint and oregano on the terrace for direct use in the kitchens. “Moreover in 2006, the Municipality approved our request to place three garbage containers outside the property for a recycling programme encouraging ‘the three Rs’: to reduce, reuse and recycle. Waste products such as cartons, paper and plastic are segregated and placed in these containers for recycling. We also used our annual greeting cards made out of recycled paper,” adds Kandil. To conserve water and electricity, the hotel uses LED long-life energy conserving bulbs and the latest technology in compressor units. “In 2009, we fixed water savers in all guest rooms in bathrooms and public area toilets as well as a Building Management System (BMS), which conserves and regulates the air conditioning and electricity in different areas of the hotel. The hotel also designated floors for nonsmoking rooms.

“Furthermore, in November 2006, the hotel replaced normal garbage bags with eco-friendly ones. We have also modified the function of the hotel’s key cards in a way that reduces the consumption of electricity. With these practices, the hotel saves 20 per cent of water and around 8 per cent of total electricity consumption after installing energy saving bulbs and LED bulbs across the ground floor, mezzanine and ballroom. We are installing the LED bulbs instead of the halogen ones in the entire Hotel,” he explains. Added value Among the hotel’s corporate social responsibility activities are Earth Hour, Fighting Autism and involvement in diabetes and breast cancer charities as well as blood donation drives. In addition the hotel arranges for items to be sent for use overseas and also sponsors events in aid of disabilities and children’s charities. “In March 2007, the Millennium was the only hotel that joined the Green

February 2012




FROM LEFT: The team take part in numerous clean ups, such as the one in Ras El Akhdar.

The second part of the programme utilises local products made in the UAE in order to reduce pollution through transportation and fuel consumption

Parade, organised by the Environment Agency of Abu Dhabi under the slogan ‘the UAE and the environment: a sustained effort’. We also donate a percentage of Ramadan Iftar profits to Abilities Development Centre.” The hotel continues to set an example within the hospitality industry wherein continued efforts are made to raise ecological awareness and commitment to green campaigns. Other initiatives taken by the hotel as a part of their future programme include avoiding the purchase of unnecessary products such as room fresheners and sprays; avoiding excessive event promotional materials such as flyers and brochures; providing newspapers to guests only upon request; purchasing cleaning supplies and other essentials in bulk; using multiple waste recycling contractors; buying more products made of recycled materials; and avoiding

February 2012

products that have harmful ingredients. Moreover, they plan to increase staff awareness through lectures, training, and meetings on a weekly basis in order for them to support the operation. The hotel has pledged to increase donations of both money and essential items to charity and increase environmental awareness among guests also. The performance of all the initiative’s elements are continually monitored. “Our guests take pride in staying in our hotel because they feel our strong commitment to the environment without comprising five star service. You cannot just take things away from guests to make them go green, but you can implement changes without sacrificing taste and style. I am certain that the Hotel will constantly strive to go this extra mile so that we can successfully pass a better planet on to

our future generation where green is no longer an exception but an expectation,” concludes Kandil.

What: The Millennium Hotel Abu Dhabi

Where: Khalifa Street, overlooking

the Capital Gardens on one side and the Corniche on the other Type: 5-star business lifestyle hotel Facilities: 16 floors, with 325 luxurious rooms and suites, a health and fitness club, meetings and events facilities Award: Best Environmental Hotel at the 6th Annual MENA Travel Awards Ceremony Saving quotient: 20% of water and 8% of total electricity consumption


Green Business

Be Green, Make Green Commenting on the results of his own research, Omar Al Jaddou, director of special projects at Advanced Global Trading, writes about the impact perceptions of environmental responsibility have on consumer demand


ife is becoming increasingly difficult for the environmental skeptic, that most ardent core, feverishly denying the grave cost to our planet of man’s economic and industrial development. Whether climate change is being caused by the unprecedented volume of greenhouse gas emissions remains an issue being argued over by the overwhelming majority of the scientific community on the one side and a well funded minority on the other. Sadly, in a consumerist world, perception constitutes nine tenths of reality, and in this modern age an underlying sentiment is stirring, growingly mindful of the terrible price our planet is paying for our lifestyle.

February 2012

Street urchins in the slums of any metropolis have an important lesson to teach industry decision makers: Adapt or die. The growing public sentiment against pollution and carbon emissions engenders

great debate in business circles and within organisations, which simply boils down to one question, namely: Threat or opportunity?

Figure 1.0 - Statistics which the sampling methodology incorporated. Source: CIA World Factbook


Green Business

Sadly, in a consumerist world, perception constitutes nine-tenths of reality, and in this modern age an underlying sentiment is stirring, growingly mindful of the terrible price our planet is paying for our lifestyle.”

Figure 2.0 - Survey response on Awareness of Environmental Issue segmented by Ethnicity

Gauging attitudes here in the UAE is always difficult. With a transient population with demographics as unstable as the shifting sands of the desert, qualitative sampling enables a survey to best capture a contemporary snapshot of attitudes of the population, segmented and analysed along economic, ethnic, gender and academic backgrounds. The proven synergy between Islam and respect for the environment renders the overwhelming Muslim majority in the UAE a vital statistic, and leveraging these values into ecological respect and sustainable development has already been successful in ending overfishing around the Tanzanian Misali Island – according to Daniel Dickenson’s 2005 article Eco-Islam Hits Zanzibar Fishermen – lending credence to the proponents of ‘Eco-Islam’. Closer to home, the vast majority of those polled in our survey indicated an awareness of ecological damage by greenhouse gases and agreement with the sentiment that Islam renders the protection of the environment a duty for Muslims. A staple in the traditionally generic budgetary conflict seen within organisations, Corporate Social Responsibility is usually the realm of the marketing and PR department, and as such is often met with the same conventional mixture of consternation and half-hearted commitment as any other cost centre.

Consumer attitudes to ecofriendly companies and brands seem to offer an opportunity; our survey reflected a willingness to pay a premium by consumers for products and brands, which they believe to be carbon-neutral and non-damaging to the environment. Apart from adding value to brands, this attitude can be directly leveraged for initiatives ranging from increasing market share and penetration to increasing brand loyalty, positioning, product differentiation (particularly in homogeneous markets) and most importantly price inelasticity of demand for products. Ideally, this could be achieved by measuring and minimising your organisation’s carbon footprint, by working with an experienced organisation to develop and implement policies, technology and software to offset the remaining footprint, concurrently offering consumers the option to voluntarily offset the emissions caused by their own transactions. Such measures cost little and improve brand values while helping ensure the continuation and expansion of precious carbon-saving projects all over the world. They act to demonstrate your organisation’s respect for our planet, and most importantly, the fate of future generations who will be forced to inhabit it. Omar Al Jaddou can be contacted at

Figure 3.0 - Survey response on Synergy between Islam and the Environment

Figure 4.0 - Survey response on Consumer purchase decision-making and the environment

Figure 5.0 - Survey response on consumers’ brand loyalty and perceived environmental friendliness

Figure 6.0 - Survey response reflecting premium consumers willing to pay for offsetting environmental damage

February 2012


Ethical Investments A report urges businesses to use major sporting events as testing ground for emerging green technologies; Global investors convene at summit to discuss implications of investment trends from 2011; and China may decide to withhold its carbon offsets to meet domestic climate goals

2012 Olympics—a potential testing ground for Green tech A recent report published by Olympic Games sponsor General Electric (GE) warned of a consumer awareness gap about the benefits of the technologies used in the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Games, including innovations such as smart metering and electric vehicles. The report suggests that the Olympic Games can provide a testing ground for businesses to tackle the kind of sustainability and infrastructure challenges that are expected to become commonplace as cities expand over the coming decades. Mark Elborne, Chief Executive and President of GE UK, said businesses should view the Games as a microcosm of a new generation of smarter and cleaner cities. “The Olympic Games focus attention on the wider infrastructure issues we will face in the future and how we could tackle them,” he said. “By providing a highly concentrated environment – a microcosm of our cities and communities – it allows us to test technology such as smart meters, clean energy and electric vehicles. “The Games also help us understand the difficulties in deploying such technology and inform how we might

February 2012

approach such challenges on a wider scale,” he added. Clean energy investment soars to $260 billion Data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance reports that global investment in clean energy reached a new high of US$260 billion last year; a five per cent increase from 2010, largely due to a growing interest in solar energy. Investments in the solar industry increased by 36 per cent last year to $136.6 billion, despite the $535 million government loan to the now bankrupt American solar-panel manufacturer Solyndra. Despite general growth in clean industries, a drop in price of raw materials and the resulting oversupply which led to the collapse of Solyndra are now reportedly threatening manufacturers of wind turbines and solar panels. Investment in wind fell 17 per cent to $74.9 billion, and Vesta Wind Systems, the world’s biggest turbine maker, have reported that they would be halting production at one factory and cutting 2,335 jobs in order to match Chinese competitors. This analysis was presented to 500 global investors at a meeting at the UN to try to mobilise the large-scale funds needed to address climate change. The

$260 billion figure includes investment in renewables, biofuels and smart technologies. China may hold off carbon offsets to meet their own climate goals According to an official at the Asia Development Bank, China may decide to withhold emission-reduction offsets to comply with its own climate targets after 2015, limiting supply to the European Union. “China has already started a domestic process for issuing emission credits for emission-reduction projects closely following the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) procedures,” Pradeep Perera, senior energy specialist in ADB’s East Asia Department told Bloomberg. At the UN climate talks in December 2010, China promised to lower the amount of carbon pollution created per unit of output, or its carbon intensity, 40 to 45 percent by 2020. Guangdong is seeking to cut the carbon intensity of its economy by 19.5 percent in the five years through 2015, while other regions have looser targets. Certified Emission Reduction credits for December have reportedly plunged 66 percent in the past year as Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis curbed demand.

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The Green Blossom BGreen’s Hina Navin discovers the best lessons really are learned in childhood, with a visit to the UAE’s first carbon neutral educational establishment, Blossom Nursery.


elieve, achieve, become”, that is the motto underpinning the work of Dubai’s Blossom Nursery, the first educational establishment in the UAE to be certified carbon neutral. Last year, the school was honoured with a certificate from myclimate, the international non-profit foundation based in Switzerland, for offsetting over 40 tonnes of its carbon emissions.

“I’m sure these young eco warriors in Dubai will go on to lead a more sustainable lifestyle.”

February 2012

“The process of thinking and repurposing is central but in the lesson they discuss new literacy words, math concepts, gain valuable knowledge and understanding of the world and more,” says the nursery’s chief education officer Zahra Hamirani. “It is of course, one thing for Blossom to teach children to be eco-friendly but the centre aims to lead by example,” she adds. The achievement was made through simple steps such as using recycled materials for art classes, having the entire building re-plumbed, readjusting shading elements in the nursery’s design to control light and reduce energy loads for cooling. To achieve optimum performance in the new systems, water tanks and air conditioners are regularly serviced and all windows are lined. All cleaning

chemicals used on site are sourced from responsible suppliers, while reducing the need for water. Additionally, staff and partners are educated on the importance of “a classroom that speaks the green message,” Hamirani explains. “Compared to a large hotel or commercial tower, the savings are modest; but if every school in the UAE managed to become carbon neutral it would make a significant difference,” says Markus Oberlin, the general manager of Farnek Avireal, regional auditors for myclimate. “It would also educate children that collectively they can make a real difference, irrespective of how insignificant individual contributions may seem. I’m sure these young eco warriors in Dubai will go on to lead a more sustainable lifestyle,” Oberlin adds.

Society FROM LEFT to RIGHT: Zahra Hamirani receiving the certificate and children learning about sustainability at nursery.

“The idea of being green was a must that I wanted our youngest children to learn, internalize and practice, which is why we developed the Skygarden approach” Life lessons “Blossom is all about teaching and understanding the knowledge destiny we leave with our children,” Hamirani comments philosophically. “The idea of being green was a must that I wanted our youngest children to learn, internalise and practice, whis is why we developed the Skygarden approach. “We teach by ensuring that there are a variety of learning experiences: from planting seeds to composting waste; from bringing in old water bottles to building a recycled wall, thus finding new uses for old things,” she adds. The most effective of these was the introduction of Wasteful Wanda, a character created by Hamirani’s eightyear-old daughter Sufiyah, as a tool to teach the nursery’s young students how to lead environmentally conscious lives. “If someone was throwing something away that they shouldn’t or forgot to take recycled bags to the grocery store - we labelled them a ‘Wasteful Wanda’, then one day Sufiyah sketched her out, and the

ABOVE: Recycled materials are used for art classes.

character was born,” Hamirani recalls. One of the lessons asked children how Wasteful Wanda would live if ‘one day

all the lights went out’. The children were then tasked with problem-solving and brainstorming to suggest how Wanda could be more eco-friendly in her daily life. “Children learn to bring old newspapers, water bottles, paper rolls and yoghurt pots and place them in labelled boxes. For art class, they search the boxes and use these materials to build snowmen and Burj Khalifa models,” she continues. While carbon offsetting has received bad press in the past, myclimate achieves savings under the principle of “avoid, reduce, offset”, and also provides its participants with an online carbon calculator. “After all, it is our children who will inherit this world and will be making the decisions of the future. If they are learning these habits early - they can surely impact a change from the current situation where conspicuous consumption and ignorance often allow for a complacent attitude,” Hamirani concludes.

February 2012




Gone with the Wind This month, our Greenspy investigates how moooves to change how cattle is fed could help save the planet


ere’s a secret: I wish to be reincarnated into the form of a cow. A fat, cud-chewing, grape-nibbling Australian cow... WAIT! WHAT?? What did I just write? Grapenibbling cow?? OK, OK, time for some catch-ups with new research. Let me rewind. Did you know that cows fed wine dregs emit less methane? True! My spies in Australia report that deep inside the underbelly of Victoria’s Department of Primary Industries, research is being conducted on unsuspecting Holstein cows. These dairy cows were fed five kilograms of grape marc each day for more than a month, while another group was fed conventional fodder. The impact of the different diets on the cows was then assessed as scientists measured methane emissions, milk production and milk composition. When fed the stems, seeds and skins that were left over from making red wine, a non-alcoholic material known as grape marc, the methane emissions from dairy cows dropped markedly. Moreover, the happy cows’ milk production increased by 5%, while the healthy fatty acids in

February 2012

their milk also rose. The researchers are pleased to announce to the world their findings: that feeding marc to dairy cattle can cut the amount of methane they release by 20%. This new research has found a practical use for the leftover material from wine-making that will help two sometimes fiercely competing worlds: the environment and agriculture. Lets first turn to agriculture, which we know is responsible for an estimated 14% of the world’s greenhouse gases. A significant portion of these emissions come from methane which, in terms of its contribution to global warming, is 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. The world’s 1.5 billion cows and billions of other grazing animals emit dozens of polluting gases, including lots of methane. And two-thirds of all ammonia comes from cows. Cows emit a massive amount of methane through belching (blush!). Statistics vary regarding how much methane the average dairy cow expels. Some experts say 100 litres a day, while others say it’s up to 500 litres. In any case, that’s a lot of methane, an amount comparable to the pollution produced by one car in a day. Now, biology 101: To understand why cows produce methane, you’ve got to know how they function. Cows, goats, sheep and other ruminants have four stomachs and digest their food in their stomachs instead of in their intestines, as humans do. Ruminants eat food, regurgitate it as cud and eat it again. The stomachs are filled with bacteria that aid in digestion, but also produce methane.

Burp. We now know that supplementing a dairy cow’s diet with grape marc increases the healthy fatty acids in milk by more than six times that of standard fodder, thanks to these brave Aussie cows. Moreover, the fatty acids in the milk are known to help fight arthritis, diabetes and cancer, and to benefit heart health. The research also indicated that cows that had consumed grape marc produced milk with a higher level of antioxidants. But in terms of environmental impact, the key finding of the research was the substantial reduction in methane emissions from cows fed grape marc, which will now be simply ploughed into Australian grazing soil. Australian researchers will continue exploring methods of feeding grape marc to more cows, which has luckily been an easy task thus far, as the cows find marc tasty. By experimenting with a number of management strategies and supplements, methane emissions may one day be reduced by more than 50%. Breathe easy!

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Diary Dates


Bgreen rounds up enviromental events to sustain you for the next couple of months energy projects, such as field development pipelines and petrochemical projects. It also highlights how projects are financed and evaluated, as well as how risks can be mitigated.

World Wetlands Day 2 February, global Celebrated since 1997, World Wetlands Day is recognised across 160 countries to renew public effort in protecting marshes, lakes, coral reefs, peat forests and even manmade habitats that encourage wildlife. Middle East Electricity 7-9 February, Dubai This platform promotes exhibitors from the region showcasing technological solutions across renewable energy, water, and lighting industries. The two-day event includes seminars, conferences and a gala awards ceremony celebrating advances in this key field. Sustainable Living Festival    11-26 February, Melbourne Held along the Yarra River yearly, the threeday Sustainable Living Festival brings government organisations, renewable energy companies and the public together to discuss the potential for a sustainable lifestyle, through talks, music and art. TerraGreen12 International Conference 16-18 February, Beirut Headed by TerraGreen, a global environmental organisation, this annual conference is an avenue for researchers to share their expertise in renewable energy,

The 9th International Green Energy Expo & Conference Korea 28-30 March, Daegu Organised by the associations of wind, energy news and photovoltaic industries in Korea, this expo provides visitors with the latest in the international market, policy, finance, and technology.

energy applications. The conference, organised by UAE University, will span solar photovoltaic and thermal Business Clean Up Day    energy systems to Nanoenergy and its scope in the 28 February, Australia region. Usually celebrated across Australia, Business Clean Up 3rd Annual MENA Day provides offices across Natural Gas the world an opportunity to Distribution Summit clear clutter and reorganise 5-7 March, Abu Dhabi their work environment. Featuring top industry Businesses can choose to speakers, the summit focuses adopt green resolutions on overcoming risks and like restocking green office challenges in the natural gas supplies and opting for industry, the balance between double-sided printing. demand and supply and energy efficiency strategies 2nd International that can be incorporated into Conference on business practices. Renewable Energy: Generation and Energy Project Applications Finance – Oil, Gas and (ICREGA’12) Power 4-7 March, Al Ain ICREGA brings scientists and 13-15 March, Dubai engineers across fields to swap This project finance workshop explores the structuring of information on reneweable covering areas as diverse as green media technologies and climate change monitoring.

Smartech at WETEX 13-15 March, Dubai Smartech, a recent addition to WETEX, provides key B2B and B2C marketing and networking opportunities for those in the energy-efficient home appliances and green building products line. BGreen Future of Sustainable Architecture and Design Awards 28 March, Dubai BGreen presents a universitywide competition encouraging aspiring designers and architects to put their vision for sustainable design to pen. The month-long competition will allow participants the opportunity to explore green alternatives to building and design, before presenting their ideas to a panel of industry experts on March 28.

February 2012




Older, wiser, greener by Alice Hartley


hecking out at a Sydney supermarket recently, my mum and I entered into a lively discussion on environmentalism, brought on, of all things, by an innocent question posed to us by our young cashier. Sheila, tallying up the account, asked whether we brought our own shopping bags, because “plastic bags weren’t good for the environment.” I nodded that in fact we did bring our own bags, agreeing with her premise on the hazards of plastic, produced three ‘envirobags’ from my handbag and then proceeded to pack in our groceries.  Absentmindedly, I apologised for my mum’s noncommittal stance on plastic explaining to Sheila, “My mum didn’t have this eco-warrior thing back in her day.” Sheila responded with, “It’s our problem; today’s problem. Your mum’s generation didn’t really know about environmental damage. It’s just that future generations have

February 2012

to clean up their mess.” We paid for our perishables, mum pursed her lip and gracefully exited the store. My censure was about to begin... Sheila was right about one thing, mum made clear: her generation didn’t have green champions tooting their horns. Mum invited me to sit for a cup of green tea at a local coffee shop. I, of course, was impatient to hit the sales so asked whether we could get our hot beverages “take-away” - you know mum, in styrofoam cups and talk as we walk and shop. Er, no, darling. For this discussion we will sit as civilised people do, and take our tea from china mugs; those reusable vessels that make tea taste wonderful, and will not harm the environment, she added. Point taken. It was time to hear mum out. Seated and drinking from china, I listened to mum’s tale of everyday eco-crusaders back in “her day”... Back then, mum returned milk bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilised and refilled, so it could use the same bottles repeatedly. So they really were recycled. Mum and grandma washed our nappies because they chose not to use the newly invented throw-away kind. They dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-guzzling machine burning up 240 volts — relying on wind and solar power to dry their clothes the original way. Mum revealed that I received my sister’s hand-me-down clothes, and I could not have been a happier child, proud to wear my big sister’s outfits!  Back in the ‘70’s, our family owned one TV and one radio in the

house, not a unit in every room. Oh, and the television screen was small, not the size of a wall (no wonder you can’t afford to pay your electicity bills young lady, mum chided). In the kitchen, mum created the most delicious cakes, blended and stirred by hand because she didn’t have electric machines. When we moved house, your father, she explained, packaged each plate and drinking glass using old newspapers, not styrofoam (ah, that styrofoam again) or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, your father kept the back yard tidy (as he did his fine physique, she added with a smile), not by firing up an engine just to cut the lawn. He used a push mower, and by the way, never had to run on a treadmill in the gym to lose his belly.  Back then, we took the bus, and you kids rode your bikes to school and walked to the beach. “And today, after this cup of tea, we will walk home,” she decided then and there. “Oh and darling”, mum added when our china mugs were drained, my mouth hanging open on her every sentiment. “Those styrofoam cups you insist on drinking takeaway tea from each morning? Think about this: the production of one tonne of styrofoam requires 3,000 litres of oil, and emits thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide and 2,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases. Its near impossible to recycle, and is lethal to any bird or sea creature that swallows significant quantities. Even 500 years from now, the foam cup you used yesterday will be sitting in a landfill.”  My eco-cruisading mum. News that was hard to swallow alright.

BGreen Magazine February 2012  

BuildGreen Magazine is the first magazine of its kind in the Middle East to exclusively cover issues relating to sustainability and environm...

BGreen Magazine February 2012  

BuildGreen Magazine is the first magazine of its kind in the Middle East to exclusively cover issues relating to sustainability and environm...