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Issue 10 MAY 2011

Also inside Energy and water Construction Green IT Eco-leisure Green business

The social structure How corporate social responsibility initiatives are helping businesses give back to society

Publication licensed by IMPZ


MAY 2011




Green IT



Dubai hailed as transport champion by global public transport organisation UITP


Students in Sharjah to get behind the camera to promote environmental issues



We look at some of the best eco-friendly gadgets entering the marketplace

energy and water



As KSA looks to solve its energy problems we look at the potential solution of wind power


An Al Ain project demonstrates how water usage can be cut during the agricultural process








Cristal Hotels and Resorts’ Peter Blackburn speaks about the brand’s green initiatives

Dow Advanced Materials GM, Dr Ilham Kadri, talks about the UAE’s Vision 2021


As the FM arena goes ‘green’ we speak to regional experts to find out how it is being done


Richard Reynolds looks at the sustainable changes taking place in the construction materials market

The green spy examines the potential problems presented by global population growth


BuildGreen visits the offices of Canon Middle East to see how the technology firm celebrated Earth Day



The paper industry and its efforts to adopt ecofriendly measures put under the spotlight

We investigates the growing role of corporate social responsibility in the Middle East



Editor’s Letter

A convert’s goodbye C

hange is a good thing’, so the saying goes. And so it is, that after close to three years in Dubai, I will be leaving the region and heading to London; I will not, however, be going home empty handed. I’ve learnt that Dubai, and the Middle East in general, forces you to adapt to change very quickly. It’s a great place to be if you’re looking to be innovative and that’s perhaps why the ‘green’ movement, which only a few years ago was virtually nonexistent, is standing tall, dominating the newsstands and changing the way business is done. And what a difference a year makes; while I wasn’t sceptical when I started on BuildGreen that it was possible for sustainability to be accepted across the marketplace, I was at least cautious. I was wrong to be cautious and as I go back to the UK, I will be taking with me detailed knowledge of sustainable practices, a strong understanding of the causes of climate change and the will to do something about the problems facing our planet. Loukia Papadopoulos, our new editor, will now take over the editorial reins of BuildGreen, a publication I am extremely proud to have been a part of and I sincerely hope she has as much fun editing it as I have.

Wherever I look, it seems to me that different industrial sectors are undergoing a ‘green’ transformation. We are seeing many more positives than the abundant negatives of a year ago; whether it’s in the reduction of greenwashing promotional campaigns, or in the growing number of people involved in environmental movements, or even the rise in companies adopting ecofriendly CSR programmes — it all adds up to one thing: progress. It’s also pleasing to see that there are plenty of ‘green’ exhibitions, conferences and networking forums taking place across the Middle East now, and in their role of supporting the growth of the business community, they are also acting to create a diverse, energetic and vigorous community of individuals who are fuelling the adoption of sustainable practices. I would like to thank all our readers, contributors, advertising partners and the staff on the BuildGreen team and the rest of CPI for your support and for helping to make the last year one of the most interesting and exciting I have experienced so far. I’m off, but if and when I come back to the region I hope to see a marketplace that has fully embraced the ideals of sustainability.

Publisher Dominic De Sousa Associate Publisher Liam Williams COO Nadeem Hood Director Business Development Alex Bendiouis Group Sales Manager Rhiannon Downie Business Development Manager Nayab Rafiq

Editor Ben Watts Contributing Editors Loukia Papadopoulos Melanie Mingas

Ben Watts Editor

Web developers Jerus King Bation Erik Briones Jefferson de Joya Louie Alma Printed by Printwell Printing Press LLC Published by

Christine Fashugba Designer/Photographer Marlou Delaben Photographer Cris Mejorada Digital Services Manager Tristan Troy P Maagma

Head Office PO Box 13700 Dubai, UAE Tel: +971 4 440 9100 Fax: +971 4 447 2409 Web: © Copyright 2011 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.


May 2011

Expert hails Dubai as transport champion Global public transport figures commend the UAE city’s vehicle efforts at Dubai exhibition as organisation looks to double market share across the world

UITP’s PTx2 campaign is aiming to double the market share of public transport by 2025.

UITP has continued to promote its PTx2 campaign, a strategy launched two years ago aimed at doubling the public transport market share worldwide by 2025. Speaking at the 59th World Congress and Exhibition of the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) in Dubai, UITP president and chief executive officer of the Brussels Public Transport Company (STIB), Alain Flausch, said improving public transport networks was crucial to the development of the global economy, and in the reduction of congestion and CO2 emissions. Flausch noted Dubai was chosen as host due its commitment to public transport.

“In our eyes Dubai is one of the champions because it is starting from an 8% market share and shooting for 30% in the forthcoming year,” he commented. UITP Secretary General, Hartmut Schick also commended the city’s transport plans, stating: “Dubai was selected to host the congress because it is at the heart of one of the most promising regions in terms of public transport development — it is one of our PTx2 champions.” A competition was held throughout the exhibition in recognition of the participating countries’ efforts, while Flausch also confirmed that Geneva would host the organisation’s next global convention in 2013.

Consumers to become ‘green’ citizens

Global energy company to feed consumer resource usage data to electricity suppliers


The vice president of a global energy management company has warned the region’s residents that they must be ready to reduce their energy consumption at their suppliers’ request. Schneider Electric Gulf and LifeSpace Business vice president, Pascal Reigner, was at the LifeSpace Expo 2011 in Dubai, an event that showcased products designed for green buildings and home automation concepts. Reigner confirmed that the energy specialist is currently working on offers that involve supplying electricity authorities with consumers’ energy consumption data. Reigner said: “Electricity is becoming digital. This is obvious, but now it’s coming into force. “We have some new offers that we are incubating where we collect the data of

consumers’ consumption; whatever you consume such as your air condition or your lighting, we will save the data.” “We can give consumers information about their consumption so they can read what they have consumed monthly and become green citizens themselves as individuals, having a good understanding of what they consume,” he added. Schneider Electric is introducing products such as Sympholux to the region, which incorporates the concept of a network system that will allow residents and office workers to dim each point of light. Reigner added that residents within the UAE could reduce their consumption considerably by using this product. “For the UAE this is a reduction of consumption of energy by nearly 30% because you only use the lights you need. The sensors capture the light,” he remarked.

Pascal Reigner, vice president, Schneider Electric Gulf and LifeSpace Business.

May 2011

Oregon wind farm receives US $500 million investment from major global corporations

Ethiopia is hoping to overcome chronic power shortages by building large hydro-electric plants along the Nile River.

Anti-hydro campaigners damned by politician Great Millennium Dam announcement follows Ethiopian PMs criticism of anti-dam campaigners

Google has joined Itochu Corporation, Sumitomo Corporation, GE and Caithness Energy as owners of the world’s largest wind farm. The full deal marks an investment of US $500 million in the $2 billion 845MW Shepherds Flat wind project under construction in the US state of Oregon. The wind project site will stretch across 30 square miles in north-central Oregon and will generate enough energy to supply more than 235,000 average US homes upon completion; according to GM it will save close to 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions a year. “We’re excited to be investing with strong partners in the largest wind farm project in the world,” said Rick Needham, director of Green Business Operations at Google. “This project is particularly attractive because it deploys advanced turbine technology while delivering clean, renewable energy. We hope that our support for Shepherds Flat encourages more investment in this sector, and accelerates the development of clean energy resources across the country.” Google has now invested more than $350 million in the clean energy sector, which includes two recent investments in a German photovoltaic power plant and in the world’s largest solar project, which is under construction in California. Caithness Energy partner Les Gelber added: “The new investors contribute a wealth of energy expertise, innovation and strong financial profiles to the landmark Shepherds Flat wind farm project.” GE Energy Financial Services president and chief executive officer Alex Urquhart remarked: “Such projects boost energy security and supply, create jobs, and build on our partnerships with Google, ITOCHU and Sumitomo.” Construction at the site is underway with the erection of 338 turbines, and the development of 95 miles of roads and 167 miles of transmission lines ongoing.

The 845MW Shepherds Flat wind project under construction in the US state of Oregon.

The government of Ethiopia has announced plans to develop the largest hydro-electric power project in Africa. According to news wires, the Ethiopian Power Corporation selected Italian-based construction firm Salini Construttori Spa to construct the US $5 billion project, which has been named the Great Millennium Dam. The announcement came just weeks after Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi denounced Westerners who have been campaigning against hydropower dam projects in Africa as “borderline criminal”. Zenawi said: “These people will not allow the disturbance of butterflies even if this means millions of people have to be subjected to the deadliest killer disease of all — poverty.” “I am not a believer in conspiracy theories but, if I were, I would conclude that these people want Africa to remain as it is with all its misery and poverty so they can come and visit nature in its pristine state in winter every so often,” he added. Ethiopia has said it is aiming to produce an additional 15,000MW of power within 10 years as part of a plan to spend $12 billion in the next years to overcome chronic power shortages. The huge Great Millennium Dam will be constructed on the Nile River, 40km from the border of Sudan and is projected to produce 5250MW of electricity.


Google invests in world’s largest wind farm facility



May 2011

Region’s first ‘green office’ opens in Dubai

Dubai Internet City to look into developing more ‘green offices’ across the cluster

The region’s first ‘green office’ has opened in Dubai Internet City (DIC), offering a resource-efficient location at the Firststeps@DIC Business Centre. Developed in partnership with TECOM Investments’ Sustainable Energy and Environment Division (SEED), the ‘green office’ programme is designed to focus on attributes relevant to the local environment and has adopted an inside-out approach to making buildings sustainable over a period of time. Majed Al Suwaidi, director of business development at Dubai Internet City and Dubai Outsource Zone, said: “Green offices and technologies are becoming relevant today as organisations want to become socially responsible while simultaneously contributing to the society. “The community will benefit from such a step as it makes the environment healthy and productive for its employees,” he added. The programme has been opened for implementation to all offices within TECOM Investments’ business parks. “The green office incorporates several key features and conforms to all the standards mandated for such a facility,” noted Al Suwaidi. “We are confident our business partners will also be encouraged to make their environment more eco-friendly. “DIC will look into further developing more green offices around the zone with the support of its partners.” Some of the environmental benefits of the ‘green office’ environment include the efficient use of daylight and artificial lighting, sufficient control of air conditioning, and low-volatile organic compounds carpets, paints, adhesives and furniture.


Dubai Internet City’s Majed Al Suwaidi and Asset Management and Sustainable Development executive director Sougata Nandi at the launch of DIC’s ‘green office’.

Students will hope to inspire audiences in Bee’ah’s environmental film competition.

Lights, camera, action for environmentalists Sharjah students to highlight ecological issues on film to raise awareness of UAE’s environmental challenges Sharjah-based waste management company Bee’ah has launched the emirate’s first environmental film competition. The company hopes to encourage young film artists from Sharjah’s universities to step behind the camera and raise public awareness on environmental issues across the UAE. Khaled Al Huraimel, chief executive officer at Bee’ah, said: “Films that raise awareness can be quite inspirational. Not only do they tell us a story, but they have the capacity to move people and drive them to take real action towards this important cause. “These young filmmakers have the opportunity to lead our society towards this positive change. As part of our endeavour, we invite all ambitious and talented film students to participate by utilising their creativity and educational resources to explore our environment through a lens.” The competition’s theme will be on recycling and reducing waste and participants will be expected to utilise their creativity to highlight these topics. University film students and graduates will be required to submit a two-minute infomercial about various approaches to recycling or to create a ten-minute short documentary on any environmental topic facing the emirate of Sharjah. All participating filmmakers and students must submit their projects to Bee’ah by May 19, with the winners being announced at the end of May.


May 2011

Around the world

A look back at some of last month’s less conventional environmental stories from across the globe

Green capital takes to the tracks A ‘Train of Ideas’ departed Hamburg, the European Green Capital 2011, to spread the word of an interactive exhibition entitled “Visions for Future Cities”. The mobile exhibition will travel across Europe for seven months, showcasing innovative ideas for sustainable cities. Hamburg second mayor Dorothee Stapelfeldt said: “I find it fascinating that all the visitors to the exhibition can contribute their own vision of the city of the future. As European Green Capital 2011, we will gather these ideas, thus gaining worthy inspiration for Hamburg.” The exhibition is presenting an informative way of how future cities could be shaped to enhance quality of life and sustainability.


Lobster golf ball created An educational institute in the USA has created a golf ball made entirely of biodegradable lobster shells. Created by Professor David Neivandt and undergraduate student Alex Caddell the ball is intended for use on cruise ships. According to the creators, most biodegradable balls retail around US $1, while the cost of creating one lobster ball is around 19 cents. “We’re using a byproduct of the lobster canning industry which is currently miserably underutilised — it ends up in a landfill,” said Neivandt. “We’re employing it in a valueadded consumer product which hopefully has some cachet in the market.”









Actor takes up gardening Indian actor Vikram and his fans took up their shovels on Earth Day last month to plant 100 saplings in the brown grounds of a YMCA facility in Kottivakkam, Tamil Nadu. The effort was the beginning of a series of programmes that will address environmental issues and try to mitigate the adverse effects of urbanisation, which have been spearheaded by the actor. “When I donated my eyes, a thousand of my fans followed suit,” said the star, who will build teams from his fan club to undertake the environmental tasks.


Green wall can be saved by SMS Europe’s largest and latest green wall has been installed in a renovated hotel in London. Stretching from the second to the eleventh floor on the outside of the Mint Hotel, the wall features a total of 180,000 evergreen plants inserted into real soil. The wall, made up of 4100 planting modules each containing 45 planted cells, were grown offsite for six months before the modules were fixed to the building. An automatic irrigation system is built into the wall and supplies a combination of water and liquid fertiliser to keep the plants healthy. According to the hotel, “if anything goes wrong with the irrigation system a text message is automatically sent to the landscape company so they can take corrective action before any damage is done”.



May 2011

KSA’s powerful air ENERGY AND WATER

While an oil crisis may be on the horizon for Saudi Arabia, Christine Fashugba investigates how the Kingdom’s officials are deciding whether wind power is their way forward



n the wake of a possible domestic oil shortage Saudi Arabia’s government has been forced to join the growing list of countries turning to the elements for power generation. The Chinese government has identified wind power as a key factor for the country’s continued economic growth, while the USA is on course to generate 20% of the nation’s electricity from the resource by 2030 and the UK currently runs the world’s largest offshore wind farm. UAE-based daily The National recently reported that, Abu Dhabi’s clean energy company, Masdar is considering building a US $200 million wind farm near the Saudi Arabian border, which if built would be the first of its kind in the region. However, as sustainably conscious as the decision to use renewable energy is, a few key factors still need to be considered when taking the leap; cost, suitable locations and efficiency. Since Saudi Arabia may no longer have

enough oil to export in two decades time officials are convinced that wind power is one part of the solution. “The government is increasingly seeing renewable energy as part of a solution to the growing need for power in the Kingdom,” says Marc Fèvre, energy and infrastructure counsel – finance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP. “Solar, wind and nuclear energy are seen as a solution to the problem, with both solar and wind making use of unharnessed domestic resources.”  With power demand in Saudi Arabia forecast to increase by 8% annually KSA officials have realised the need for action. Last year they decided to build the Kingdom’s first peaceful nuclear energy programme, the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KA-CARE), in Riyadh. Now built, the city’s nuclear reactors provide renewable, clean energy and desalinated drinking water for KSA residents.

In some countries, under certain conditions, wind farms are nearing or have met wholesale parity rates” The plan to coordinate and direct alternative energy policy, research and development in the area could be on its way to yielding sustainable results. So far Hashim Yamani, president of the King Abdullah City for Nuclear and Renewable Energy has signed an agreement with French officials for the peaceful use of atomic energy and has recently been authorised to meet with Chinese officials for a similar deal.

May 2011

KSA is looking to utilise the power of the wind to solve its energy problems.

Neighbouring Arab countries have yet to unite with the Kingdom on this and Fèvre is convinced that unity where alternative energy is concerned would only further the cause. “Cooperation would make sense if offshore wind farms started to be developed in areas of the Red Sea where the exclusive economic zones of Saudi Arabia and Egypt may meet,” he says. “By contrast, cooperation is on the agenda across the region for improving cross border electricity grids.  “If wind power is developed in remote areas or in border areas without existing strong grid connections, then such cooperation would be helpful in enabling the transmission of wind-generated electricity throughout the region,” he adds. Where oil scarcity is concerned economical efficiency is crucial. Siemens regional director for renewable energy, Adrian Wood, is convinced that renewable energy is the KSA’s cheaper option.


Cooperation is on the agenda across the region for improving cross border electricity grids”

The Red Sea coast is a potential hot spot for wind power.



May 2011

The USA is on course to generate 20% of the nation’s electricity from wind power by 2030.


“Wind power is a cost effective renewable power source. In some countries, under certain conditions, wind farms are nearing or have met wholesale parity rates,” Wood says. “In the GCC, conventional fuels are heavily subsidised and therefore present an additional challenge to renewable energy use from a commercial perspective.” When considering the cost of wind power when compared to oil and gas for example, Wood says that the need to reduce emissions overall, the current high price of oil and the full potential of renewable energy to develop new business, mean that the current price difference does not appear to be so large. Despite genuine plans to use wind power as a consistent source of energy the question of whether the KSA has suitable locations is still yet to be fully answered. As Fèvre points out the strength of the area’s wind is not the only important factor, the element’s force needs to be consistent. Although technical and economic feasibility of wind energy has not yet been fully explored several studies were conducted to assess the wind potential. Saudi Arabia is believed to have two windy regions along the Arabia Gulf and Red Sea coastal areas and

Saudi Arabia may have enough wind capacity to power many wind farms.

with a one resent study proving Saudi Arabia has a potential wind generating capacity of 20GW, Wood points out large groups of productive wind turbines may be the country’s most effective option. “If an area has sufficient winds, available ground and a near-by grid connection, why not consider a wind farm,” he says. Wind projects in China and the USA, though successful overall, have had fluctuating results. China has invested close to $10 billion in wind power, nearly half the global total of $20.5 billion spent on the industry in 2010. The generous investment has ensured that around one in two wind turbines that went live in 2010 were in China. Large land mass and long coastlines make China exceptional for wind resources and Harvard researchers believe the country may even meet all its residents’ electricity needs by 2030.

According to the US Wind Industry Year-End 2010 Market Report, the sector installed 5115MW in 2010, barely half of 2009’s record. However, 2011 was a stronger period, with more than 5600MW under construction. Further wind projects are expected to start up to meet the new construction deadline at the end of 2011. As the Kingdom is still in the beginning stages of the alternative energy plans there are no certainties regarding what the outcome may be. However because Saudi Arabia is blessed with good solar irradiation both solar and wind applications are potential options and could bring the momentum of change KSA officials are hoping for. One thing is certain; the winds near Saudi Arabia are blowing, bringing with them a desire for renewable energy development. Wood believes the Kingdom may at least be technically equipped for the challenge. “Some of the technology, notably the turbines and blades, would be imported, however the tower and electrical components, as well as the civils, installation and erection could most likely be sourced within Saudi Arabia — this represents a good opportunity for the country,” Wood says.

May 2011


Cultivating innovation

EPIC Chamber managing director Bart Rehbein.

A large EPIC installation in Al Ain.

Across the Middle East the agricultural industry is bound by the issue of water scarcity. In the interior of the UAE, however, one project is looking to revolutionise the way water is utilised on the farm. In the past few months, EPIC Green Solutions has been busy installing several demonstration plots at Al Dahra Agricultural Company’s fresh produce farms in Al Ain. The company was interested in putting installations in two of its existing greenhouses, an open field area and ultimately in its date palm trees plantation. Each greenhouse was divided into two halves where one half used a traditional drip irrigation system and the other had the EPIC system fitted with the exact same number of plants. Both areas were fitted with water meters to gauge water consumption and data for this sector was collected in mid-December 2010. Data was also collected from the open field at the end of January 2011, and followed a similar protocol to that used in the greenhouses. This area was used to grow a variety of different vegetables, alfalfa grass and forage grass. With the installations for the date palm plots due to be implemented soon, we spoke to Bart Rehbein, managing director of EPIC Green Solutions, to find out more about the innovative agricultural project.


BG: What does the farm do and what was its reason for installing the EPIC system? Bart Rehbein: The Al Dahra Farm is an Al Ain-based agricultural company and producer of locally distributed fruits and vegetables, as well as organic fertiliser and a range of dairy products. The owner of the farm and the local municipality were primarily interested in increasing the efficiency of local food production and were therefore researching alternative options to the existing irrigation system. Based on EPIC Green Solutions’ past results, they found that this particular system was what they were looking for as it targeted two major factors: increasing levels of food production and dealing with the issue of water scarcity. BG: Does the installation vary depending on the area and what is going to be grown?

Rehbein: There are typically two different ways that the EPIC system is installed. Normally, as was done in the open field, one large area is excavated and covered by the EPDM liner with the EPIC chamber fitted in rows. In the greenhouse, however, the trenches had to be excavated by hand with 10 rows of plants and each section was fitted with an EPIC chamber independent of the others. BG: Aside from the water issue, did Al Dahra face any other problems with the traditional drip system that the EPIC system counteracted? Rehbein: One of the other factors of concern was the amount of fertiliser being used in the traditional irrigation system. The EPIC system, through the use of its Firestone EPDM liner, releases fertiliser as and when the plants require it. In a regular

system the fertiliser tends to simply seep into the ground. This format is also beneficial to the environment as it keeps the stored fertiliser on the surface instead of allowing it to contaminate the groundwater.

An open field installation at the Al Ain demonstration site.

May 2011

One of the greenhouse installation in Al Ain.

not come in contact with the water and are therefore not exposed to any hazardous substances.

How the Environmental Passive Integrated Chamber (EPIC) works.

BG: What other environmental benefits does the system offer? Rehbein: Another benefit of the EPIC system is the ability to utilise sea water. If sea water is used without a liner, it will eventually leech down into the ground, which over a period of time cannot be used for agricultural purposes. With the EPDM liner, nothing below it is contaminated, allowing for good use of a resource of water that is readily available to us, as opposed to fresh water which is becoming increasingly scarce across the region. Similarly, the EPIC system can also utilise grey water as it is a sub-surface system, which means that humans do

BG: As this was a demonstration site, what differences did you see visually and in terms of results between the EPIC system and the traditional drip system? Rehbein: We were monitoring two aspects which included tracking the amount of water used and how much produce was grown. Visually, the plants resulting from the EPIC system installation were greener and healthier. In the first four to six weeks, the vegetation from the traditional drip system lost approximately 10% of plants, although this may have been due to nematodes (roundworms). In comparison, the produce resulting from the EPIC system installations have not lost a single plant. BG: Can you tell us a little bit more about the seasonal change and have you taken into consideration how this is going to affect the farm? Rehbein: In the greenhouse, the conditions are such that produce can grow all year round, but in the summer, water consumption doubles compared to what is used in winter.

BG: Have you had any feedback so far from the farmers, farm owners and decision-makers in regards to the sustainability of the system? Rehbein: Feedback has primarily been positive; we have witnessed water savings of about 82% more than normal in the greenhouse, which is on par with what was predicted. We want to make sure that any solution we provide to farmers is not only sustainable, but is also simple, easy to use and requires very little maintenance. Ultimately we are aiming for a turn-key system, with exact instructions based on what’s going to be grown, be it cucumbers, tomatoes, or any other agricultural produce. BG: How do agricultural projects fit in with the issue of water scarcity and food shortages in the region? Rehbein: The Middle East and other dry areas that have agricultural projects are looking at two counter-opposing concepts: one is that they need to produce more food and the other is that they don’t have much water available to them and therefore need to conserve this resource as much as possible. Close to 80% of water in the UAE is used for agricultural purposes so it is our social responsibility to do what we can to cut this percentage down wherever we can.

We have witnessed water savings of about 82% more than normal in the greenhouse”

BG: How did the installation for farming processes differ from use in landscaping and did you have to take any additional factors into consideration? Rehbein: There were not any major differences as far as the installation is concerned; the only real difference was that more tanks, water meters and pumps were used in this project in order to collect and analyse data. For example, in the open field we used three separate cells which allowed us to track various water levels — the same area or even bigger, however, could have been irrigated using one cell under normal circumstances.

Based on the statistics we’ve collated so far, we can expect that although water consumption in the EPIC system will go up during the summer months, it will be comparatively less than what we see in the traditional drip system. Vegetables grown outside in the UAE, tend to grow from September through till May, and are out of season from June until August. What we think will happen in the open field, although this might not apply to all produce, the EPIC system may be able to promote the growth of some vegetables throughout the year, which could increase production.


Comparison of the new and old systems at the Al Ain demonstration site.


May 2011


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May 2011

Organic luminosity Blob architecture and organic light sound like cliché terms, but both ideas have been put into practice in Dubai. We take a closer look at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai’s VIP Bridge which embraces both terms as well as offering some environmental benefits


The brightly lit VIP Bridge leads to the grandstand at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai.


“Colour consistency was particularly important as it was essential the same shade of blue was used throughout. We also carried out modelling exercises to arrive at an intensity that would provide the desired effect while minimising energy consumption,” he continues. “We tested samples from a number of manufacturers and Philips was able to meet all our criteria with its blue LEDs.” The requirement was a maintenancefree linear continuous projector running along the undulating structure emitting blue light. The project had a tight delivery schedule and handover was just before the Dubai World Cup. Through the use of LED technology, the project offers environmental benefits alongside a colourful design. A maintenancefree outdoor solution a long-life light source offers optimal power consumption. Continuous interconnection of products also enabled the quick installation of the entire system, and according to a case study issued by Philips, the solution offered is 100% energy efficient and sustainable. The product eW Graze power core was had to be customised to blue LEDs — a

requirement that gave birth to a new product called e Color Graze Power Core, which offers various colour options. “This ‘wave’ comes down to two metres at its lowest points so a conventional highlevel street lighting arrangement would have spoiled the effect,” explains Twartz. “We overcame this problem by using special bollards mounted in the guard rail, with the light at 0.9 metres high. This achieved the required illuminance levels on the road surface with no glare for drivers.”

Fast fact Client: Meydan Project: Illumination of the VIP Bridge and its extension the Royal Bridge Location: Dubai, UAE Luminaires: e Color Graze Power Core with Blue LEDs Light effect: Integrated lighting and grazing of the wavy structure of the bridge

t night the VIP Bridge at the Meydan Racecourse in Dubai turns a brilliant shade of blue, resembling the look of waves ripping across the sea. Designed by architects TAK and design engineers Aurecon Middle East, the VIP Bridge provides direct access to the racecourse’s grandstand and utilises ‘Blob architecture’, the name given to a style of architecture that gives buildings soft, rounded shapes. The bridge’s light comes from an organic light-emitting diode (OLED), which consists of a stack of several semiconductor layers positioned between two electrodes, one of which is transparent. They are used in flatscreen technology and also, increasingly, in lighting. Aurecon lighting designer Michael Twartz says: “The design brief was conceived to ensure that the VIP Bridge stood out visually from the other bridges and that any lighting on the bridge would be blue. “Given the requirement for blue light, and the fact that any fittings should be discreet and not detract from the daytime appearance, LEDs were the obvious solution.


May 2011


Sustaining the future of FM

Buildings such as the terminals at Dubai International Airport rely on FM services to remain efficient and effective.

As we look ahead to this month’s Sustainable Facilities Expo, which takes place at Dubai World Trade Centre on May 17-19, we speak to a panel of FM industry experts to find out how and why sustainable FM is playing a bigger role within the region’s construction market

BG: How popular is the demand for sustainable facilities management in the Middle East and what is fuelling the sector’s growth?


Nick Coetzee: There is a growing demand, but we should consider what is stunting the growth rather than ‘fuelling’ it. In this respect the immediate investment into sustainable FM is a hard pill for developers, procurement and operational managers to swallow, despite the return on investment that can be achieved by reducing energy output.

Youssef Abillama: This is a new trend that started as recently as two to three years ago, driven largely by the Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and his initiative to make all Dubai buildings more efficient, and has been followed by Masdar, the Estidama accreditation in Abu Dhabi and the Pearl accreditation in Qatar. Ali Al Suwaidi: In operational terms FM firms follow the client’s sustainable strategies. Government legislation and the need to cut a building’s operational costs

and its attendant environmental impact are dictating and influencing design, build and operational policies. BG: Is sustainable FM expensive to implement and do the costs justify the outcome? Colin Mills: The harsh reality of the commercial world dictates that any sustainable solution must have sound commercial basis. Experience throughout the world has shown that after much rhetoric on the desire and commitment

May 2011

The panel •

Maintenance Management Group chief executive officer Youssef Abillama

Green Facilities Management managing director Nick Coetzee

Converta director Colin Mills

Middle East Facility Management Association (MEFMA) board member

Dubai will host the first Sustainable Facilities Expo later this month.

to sustainability, the word ‘payback’ soon enters any discussion, with payback being quantified in monetary terms rather than ‘sustainability’ terms. It is therefore important that we strive to provide sustainable solutions that do not incur massive cost premiums. Ali Al Suwaidi: When FM is incorporated at the design stage operational efficiencies can be greatly enhanced. Building or facility

designers arguably have the greatest influence over the operational efficiency and long-term environmental impact of buildings. Youssef Abillama: There are not enough LEED-equivalent sustainable buildings in the Middle East as of yet to allow any reliable statistics. If we extrapolate from the USA, based on an average of 40 buildings consisting of schools and offices audited

by the US Green Building Council, it costs 0.66% more to build a LEED-certified building, 1.9% more to build a Silver LEED-accredited building, 2.2% more to build a Gold LEEDcertified building and 6.8% more to build a Platinum LEED-certified building. So even with a deviation in this extra cost for the Middle East, and based on the average life of a building of 25 to 30 years minimum, the extra cost for sustainability makes a lot of sense.


Ali Al Suwaidi


May 2011

BG: Does the lack of basic infrastructure in many cities across the region make it difficult to implement sustainable FM?

Colin Mills says that basic infrastructure in many cities across the Middle East could inhibit the roll out of sustainable FM initiatives.


Nick Coetzee: In the UAE and emirates such as Sharjah the infrastructure has been built but the support to cope with the subsequent demand is not being met. This is the reason that we have electricity cuts during the height of summer because the respective authorities cannot generate enough power. If we could reduce the need for all that power through sustainable initiatives then such pressure would not exist.

Youssef Abillama says a sustainable FM supply chain needs to be fuelled by government regulations.

Colin Mills: We understand that lack of basic infrastructure in cities across the region could inhibit the roll out of sustainable FM initiatives. It is with this in mind that the Converta food waste recycling units are designed to provide resources that can be used on site at the point of the waste production, without the need to involve external contractors or service providers.


why it is the responsibility of the industry, its association and events like the Sustainable Facilities Expo to highlight the latest remote technologies and environmentally-sound products and initiatives that must be implemented. Secondly, the consumer can take charge and demand that service providers and landlords implement more sustainable solutions; if the pressure comes from the enduser then the commercial sector will be forced to follow suit. Youssef Abillama: It starts with a strong awareness fuelled by government regulations to be effective. If not, then unfortunately it is left at the initiative of the developers, which is not common enough yet to make it a critical mass to change things rapidly.

BG: Is the supply chain within the region strong enough to meet the demands of sustainable FM, and if not, what is being done to strengthen it?

BG: Many buildings in parts of the region have been built quickly in recent years. Does speed of construction hinder the implementation of sustainable FM?

Ali Al Suwaidi: Awareness of the importance of supply chain management is growing year-on-year. If you take high profile projects such as Burj Khalifa and Masdar City, and how they are greening their respective supply chains, we can see it is moving in the right direction.

Ali Al Suwaidi: This can and does happen during construction projects around the world, which by their nature are time critical. In the event, it is the FM role to correct oversights through retrofitting and critical operational elements such as integrated building management systems. This is another area of value that FMs can bring to building owners and MEFMA is supporting ongoing technical advancement through continual professional development training programmes.

Nick Coetzee: The largest problem facing sustainable FM is the mentality that exists throughout the supply chain and that is

Colin Mills: Awareness of sustainable FM and its needs are now being incorporated into the design and construction process; however, design of technologies with suitability for retrofitting are of huge importance. BG: Within new buildings in the region, is it the case that aesthetics are more important to developers than the implementation of developed facilities management? Nick Coetzee: Unfortunately this is the case — especially as everything has to have a superlative attached to it. Masdar has, however, proved that boasting about being the ‘greenest’ building can also attain respect and it should be used as an example of what can be achieved when sustainability is built into the core operation of the respective building. Ali Al Suwaidi: Again, I would make the point that the Middle East is no different to the rest of the world as designers design with aesthetics in mind and FM firms look at ease of maintenance and operation. There are projects where MEP installations lack space and access, and façade cleaning can also be a bone of contention on some buildings and a costly challenge to overcome. There are, however, examples to the contrary. Youssef Abillama: I believe that good sustainable FM thought at the design stage can marry both the aesthetics and functionality. Maintenance Management Group, the company I represent, have been involved with many projects at this early stage. This is

May 2011


Consultants need to have a place around the planning table to ensure that the whole building is designed and managed in a more environmental manner”

Ali Al Suwaidi says that designers working in the Middle East are no different to those working in the rest of the world with aesthetics playing a key role in design.

Solar panelling is now playing a bigger role in powering buildings.

a very delicate stage as the architect will have his or her own vision for the project. If there is not a strong push from the owner or a good awareness from the architect then there needs to be a compromise between sustainability and aesthetics, which can sometimes lead to a very complicated exercise.

BG: Is sustainable FM now being implemented in the early stages of building design across the region?


Ali Al Suwaidi: This really depends on which part of the region you’re looking at. Universally, however, it is critical to engage developers and FM consultants at the concept stage. Engagement engenders developer understanding of the initial and lifecycle cost benefits that FM consultancy can deliver. Without this process, consultancy can appear as an additional cost eating into the developer’s budget. If FM were to become a mandatory element at the building concept stage through design, construction, operation and decommissioning, the challenge then is twofold — to provide all professionals in the field with CPD training and to bring through enough graduate FMs at the required level to meet demand. Youssef Abillama: Things are slowly moving especially on projects where LEED

accreditation or the equivalent is required. To make it move faster, governments and associations like MEFMA have a crucial role to play. A government can move things faster by requiring for instance any preliminary drawings to be approved by consultants certified in sustainability to validate the drawings according to minimum green requirements and guidelines. In the UAE, things are starting to move forward on this basis, and we very much hope it will be rolled out to the rest of the region.

Nick Coetzee: Sustainable FM is being introduced earlier in the building process, but only in terms of sourcing greener products. As encouraging as this is, the same consultants need to have a place around the planning table to ensure that the whole building is designed and managed in a more environmental manner. This means actually arguing for solar panelling, better waste control and recycling, remote control technology and efficient building management system (BMS) operations.

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May 2011

Small steps to giant strides With small steps the construction materials industry can yield major change, says Richard Reynolds, manager — supply chain consultancy at Masdar City



he criteria to be considered for construction materials nowadays must respond to an entirely different set of forces than in days past. Today decisions about materials are impacted by new factors such as global climate change, air pollution, rising fuel costs, ecological destruction and loss of biodiversity. These forces are reshaping the construction industry through the rapidly growing sustainable development movement and they are necessitating significant changes in the materials industry. To address the goal of sustainable development, material manufacturers, and the construction industry more broadly, need to make a series of shifts: from nonrenewable inputs and fuels to renewables, from being waste producers to waste reusers and recyclers, from an emphasis on nearterm first cost to long-term lifecycle costs – where all ‘costs’, including externalities such as waste, emissions, and pollution, are factored into the price of materials. The good news is that this shift has already begun, with significant early changes apparent within the construction materials industry. •


Global warming has been acknowledged by global decision makers and treaties. Industrial designers and product manufacturers are looking to natural systems for closed-loop design, new material compositions, and green chemistry to reduce waste and pollution from their product production. Standards and criteria for reducing the environmental and human health impacts of materials and products are being developed and increasingly used by product specifiers to make decisions. The Estidama Pearl Rating System, The LEED system, Cradle to Cradle Certification, and others offer criteria and standards for materials or product selection. Lifecycle assessment (LCA) studies are increasingly available, although still limited, for construction materials and products.

Widely varying priorities Yet while progress is being made, selection of materials and products with the least

environmental and human health impacts remains a challenging, confusing, and sometimes even contentious issue. The appropriate materials for sustainable buildings will vary by impact priorities, regional issues, project budgets, and performance requirements. Some emphasise materials The construction industry is being reshaped by that conserve sustainable developments, says Richard Reynolds. resources, whether Evaluating multiple products for a given use by being reused without remanufacturing, can be like comparing apples and oranges. by being extremely durable, or by closing material loops with high-recycled content and One product may pose global warming impacts while another may involve a known manufacturer take-back programmes. human carcinogen, a third product may Other requirements and priorities will require large amounts of fossil fuel-powered place great emphasis on the low toxicity energy to produce, but it may be more of products and emissions throughout durable with the potential to last twice as long their life cycle, while others may regard low as the first two alternatives. ecological impacts or conservation of water as the highest priority. With this wide variety Small steps, big impact of priorities comes an even wider variety of Nearly any material can be ‘greened’ and a ‘right answers’. small step in the right direction is better than Shades of ‘green’ no step if the big step is not acceptable. Many small steps can add up to big impacts, In addition to varying priorities and goals in and a small step taken over and over can green material selection, there are shades add up to big impacts. of ‘green’. For instance, the ideal green Ultimately, ‘small’, done again and again, material might be a natural, renewable, local can result in a changed material industry or indigenous, nontoxic, low embodied — an industry that closes material loops, energy material such as rammed earth for a eliminates toxins and toxic wastes, and uses retaining wall. durable, local materials. For example, if at These materials, however, may not be first CMU is specified with 30% recycled feasible in all situations. They may not be aggregates, and performs well, then for able to perform to current construction the next project, it is increased to 50%, and standards and codes, construction workers progress has been made. may not be skilled in techniques to build Radical change, if it can be accomplished, structures with these materials, or they may be inappropriate for the scale of construction can be a good thing, but the reality is that small steps of incremental change may be or performance requirements needed. a much more realistic approach within the In addition, claims of ‘green’ abound as construction industry. The Estidama Pearl product manufacturers capitalise on the Building Rating System and credit points rapidly growing ‘green’ segment of the will encourage market change to increase construction materials industry. Yet it can be the thresholds and boost research and difficult for designers to cut through the hype development, making the UAE a leader in and determine just how green the product is, the responsible use of recycled resources. let alone compare it with alternatives.

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May 2011


Turkish delight Built between 2006 and 2011, the recently opened Istanbul Sapphire is Turkey’s newly established tallest building. Located in the heart of the city’s business centre, the tower offers much more than basic business facilities boasting several social and environmental attributes. Murat Tabanlıoglu, architect and founding partner at Tabanlioglu Architects, talks about the project

The shopping area within the Istanbul Sapphire.

The Istanbul Sapphire was built between 2006 and 2011.



he building façade of the Istanbul Sapphire consists of two independent shells. The interiors are protected from adverse weather conditions and noise on account of the outer shell and this transparent feature also creates a buffer zone between the indoor area and the outside. One of the more original aspects of the building is that this space between the two shells is used as the gardens and terraces for each apartment. The garden zone is naturally ventilated though the louvers taking the air in and out. The louvers automatically open and close according to weather conditions — the interior temperature is always almost equal to the exterior temperature. Although there is a restriction for balconies above the 11th storey, due to the double façade application, the interior gardens protected by the outer shell provide a unique experiment of being in your private garden in a skyscraper.

The view across Istanbul from the tower is dramatic.

The interior gardens protected by the outer shell provide a unique experiment of being in your private garden in a skyscraper”

A comparable image of some of the tallest towers on the planet.


Murat Tabanlıoglu, architect and founding partner at Tabanlioglu Architects.

great view of the Bosporus. A swimming pool at 60 meters overlooks the woods of Istanbul. A part of the six-storey underground carpark has been reserved as a storage areas for the residents and for other storage services. Central heating and ventilation, security, maintenance services and an ‘intelligent house’ system grant a user-friendly environment and easy access. The complex, supported by the recent technologies and professional service administration, offers a comfortable and fashionable lifestyle.

Vital statistics Site area: 11,500 m² Construction area: 165,000 m² Number of floors: 61 Number of apartments: 187 Height of tower: 261 metres

To motivate a futuristic social mood with its roots found in local traditions, the architectural approach with smart local solutions has created an energetic yet serene house life. All apartments have balconies or large decks and gardens, and residents benefit from 360º panoramas of the city. The two top floors are reserved for the café and simulation hall where one may experience Istanbul in 3-D, and at the very top the observation deck is open to the public. As the highest structure in the country the building is designed according to new earthquake and fire regulations, and vertical circulation around the building is provided by 14 elevators. Technological facilities, modern healthy infrastructure and management policy makes the building user-friendly and provides easy maintenance. Starting at the main entrance and at the elevator access points, a digitallycontrolled system provides a protected environment, which is also supported by the building’s security personnel.

Despite living in a tower, it feels more like sharing a three-floor house with close neighbours, much like in the countryside or in a traditional Istanbul house. Viewed from the outside, the building gets slightly thinner as it rises upward. From the fourth level the building expands downwards and the glass covering the surface of the building curves and then extends horizontally as the skirt of the building, which covers the cafés, bars, restaurants, cinemas and stores. This area of the building, designed for high-quality brand shopping, is perceived as a multi-layered, dynamic, large single space. This wide space offers the maximum extent of natural light. Environmental-friendly systems of the construction have also granted the building a low consumption of energy. The double façade itself provides a 25-30% saving in air conditioning. Furthermore, the green areas, namely the indoor gardens at various levels, offer a natural and a warm setting for those living at higher levels as well. Every ninth floor features a recreation area, and at 187 metres a mini golf course offers a

The sleak design inside the tower’s foyer.


May 2011


The corporate side of giving back


BuildGreen takes a look at CSR (corporate social responsibility) initiatives in the region and how they can succeed in changing the world for the better


hink CSR is just a bunch of government imposed initiatives or a PR exercise barely disguised as philanthropy? Think again. CSR initiatives come with a wide array of benefits for businesses and a great deal of power to impact the region’s future. According to the second annual CSR Middle East Survey conducted by Sustainability Advisory Group (SAG), 70% of the respondents in the UAE believe that CSR helps capture new markets and market share while 90% say credible CSR programmes can enable companies to build a solid reputation. Additionally, more than 80% think that CSR can attract new customers and foster innovation. “There is a large increase in the number of firms which say that CSR is not just a government agenda, but an internal one, which will ensure the long-term success of their business. We are clearly witnessing a shift in attitudes towards CSR in the region,” says Maria Sillanpaa, founding director of SAG. But what are the criteria of truly successful CSR practices, ones that actually contribute to a business’ growth? Sabrin Rahman, senior CSR content specialist at the Dubai Chamber of Commerce Centre for Responsible Business, says that successful CSR

practices are ones that integrate an organisation’s core elements of environment, workplace, community and marketplace. Rahman says: “These include looking at issues amongst employees, suppliers, competitors and other stakeholders. An important aspect of this concept means ensuring that responsible business is at the heart of all aspects of business operations and business models and not just a department. CSR practices within the organisation should be alive and ever changing as issues and priorities change “Even top leadership, such as the chairman of Marriott’s Green Hotels subcommittee Wael Farouk, participate in over time.” the hotel’s CSR initiatives,” says Marriott’s Angeles. Antoaneta Popova, sustainability and CSR director at iLearn, adds that for CSR efforts to be effective and reap benefits they need to approach their goals strategically, as part of their overall business strategy, along with marketing, branding, research and development, innovation, talent management and operations. “They will also need to effectively

We are clearly witnessing a shift in attitudes towards CSR in the region”

May 2011

Employees participate in Marriott’s Earth Hour 2011 campaign.

environmental initiatives play a very strong role as organisations are working more and more towards supporting green initiatives which appeal to everyone.” Because the idea behind these initiatives is to make the world a better place to live in while preserving the environment for future generations, environmental CSR practices,

communicate their approach, programs, results and challenges to their stakeholders,” Popova adds. CSR can tackle a number of issues and in the region there is one type of CSR initiatives that is on the rise. Dubai Chamber of Commerce’s Rahman says: “In today’s business atmosphere,

as well as those focused on general sustainability, seem to be at the core of many of today’s biggest businesses. Saad Abdul-Latif, chief executive officer of PepsiCo Asia, Middle East and Africa, says: “In 2009, we promised to deliver sustainable growth by investing in a healthier future for our consumers, our planet, our associates and external partners and the communities we serve. This promise is at the cornerstone of our belief that our financial success must go hand-in-hand with our social and environmental responsibilities. We plan to achieve this through a plan called “The Promise of PepsiCo,” a declaration that includes 47 global goals to guide our company this decade.” Mai Youssef, corporate communications manager at Corporate Communications Canon Middle East, says: “Canon Environment is at the heart of Canon’s business strategy and perfectly complements our Kyosei philosophy, which largely translates to: living and working together for the common good.” “Canon strives to design and deliver


Effective CSR practices improve employee team spirit.



May 2011


CSR initiatives today help build a business’ success.

innovative products that help our customers save time and reduce their environmental impacts. We also look carefully at our own environmental footprint from sales offices to manufacturing, and from employee travel to logistics.” Katrina Angeles, public relations coordinator at Dubai Marriott Hotels, explains that green initiatives are also part of the chain’s core principles. Angeles says: “We understand the role we play in protecting our environment. We work in partnership with our hotel owners and franchisees to implement sustainable environmental practices to reflect the environmental interests and concerns of our guests, associates, business partners and communities.” When executed successfully, these initiatives can achieve tangible results. PepsiCo’s Abdul-Latif says: “Since implementing our global CSR goals in 2006, we have conserved more than 12 billion litres of water through efficiency improvements within our operations globally, achieved a 16% reduction in per unit use of energy in our beverage plants and a 7% reduction in our snack plants, all in 2009 compared to the

Volunteers pose at the “Clean the Desert” campaign organised by PRZone and the Dubai Municipality.

In order to make CSR initiatives successful, we have to make them profitable and measurable”

2006 baseline.” But it’s not just the environment that can benefit from CSR. Integrating CSR into an organisation’s operations has a positive impact on how employees view their employer. It can also help enhance a company’s reputation and communicate its core brand and company values to a wider audience. Lina Husri, the founder of PRZone, the first PR agency dedicated to tackling CSR and community services in the region, adds: “Employees who work for organisations that promote CSR practices tend to be more loyal, positive and productive and have better team spirit.” The Dubai Chamber Centre for Responsible Business has seen many examples where good CSR practices not only helped improve morale but also employee retention and attraction of new talent. The Dubai Chamber’s Rahman says: “A great example is the ENGAGE Dubai program, the UAE’s leading corporate employee volunteering programme that has seen many organisations positively increase their reputation among local stakeholders.”

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May 2011

participants from all over the UAE.” Stakeholder groups are also becoming popular with organisations as there is a strong desire to share best practices and collaborate with likeminded companies. To meet this demand, the Dubai Chamber of Commerce Centre for Responsible Business has launched a Sustainability Network set to be a focal point for the business community to share ideas and contribute to Dubai’s CSR agenda. With growing pressure from global forces as well as increased expectations from stakeholders, Rahman insists sustainability CSR practices will gain more and more importance, becoming the way forward for many companies in the region. As companies start seeing the benefits of regulatory policy changes, sustainability will become an integral part of most organisations in the Middle East. In the future, Rahman estimates that CSR products and services more tailored to the region will also become popular as they cater to its unique challenges and opportunities. This is all great news for concerned residents in the region but the power to change the world for the better still lies in the hands of the UAE’s population. “Regardless of a corporation’s initiatives, sustainability depends on us individuals,” concludes American University of Sharjah’s Vinke, “It’s up to us to seek out ways to actively participate and promote activities that can truly make a difference. “


Successful CSR strategies must be implemented from the top.


However, CSR in the emirate and the region still has long way to go, insists Rahman. “CSR in the UAE is still at an infancy stage,” she says. “Though CSR practices are becoming important in the UAE in the past few years, many companies still view CSR as being the same as philanthropy or as a PR exercise.” In doing so, she adds, they choose to neglect a strategic tool that can be used to manage a business’ risks and enhance its financial performance. Environmental CSR efforts in the region also come with their fair share of complications. Jeannette Vinke, senior lecturer at the American University of Sharjah’s School of Business and Management, says: “The problem with CSR initiatives in the UAE is two-fold: first, the transient nature of the population and second, the large number of blue collar workers simply surviving day by day. Neither of these segments of the country’s population have the desire or the time to truly invest in their environment.” Vinke explains: “In order to make CSR initiatives successful, we have to make them profitable and measurable. If we don’t they will just be considered a nice add-on that’s fundamentally considered a cost. If you truly want to be e-friendly, it has to make economic sense.” “We need to find a way to measure companies from an environmental perspective. To do this we need the right leadership; it has to come from the top,” says Vinke. However, Vinke insists there is a willingness in the region by governments

Green campaigns are very popular CSR initiatives.

and corporations to take charge and push forward both environmental and social CSR ventures. “There are endeavours in the UAE that are bringing new ideas that hold a lot of potential. The Pearl Initiative, for example, is a leading private-sector initiative that focuses on promoting accountability, sustainability and a culture of corporate social responsibility by partnering with international associations with a track record of success in these fields,” she adds. Dubai companies are also very quick to try new products and services to increase their understanding of the region’s CSR sector and concept. The Dubai Chamber’s Rahman says: “The Dubai Chamber of Commerce Dialogue conference series has been very successful due to the public’s appetite for learning more on the matter. The conference held annually has grown steadily and now attracts over 300

CSR stats and facts •

Google has 1.6 million hits for corporate social responsibility.

According to a 2008 Grant Thornton International Business Report, the top drivers for CSR in privately held businesses are recruitment and retention (65%), cost management (63%) and brand building (56%). Additionally, globally, 56% of businesses report having formal CSR strategies. Meanwhile, 59% say they have improved waste management through their CSR and 57% say they have improved energy efficiency.


May 2011

Paper chase The paper, printing and stationery industry is fast taking on a ‘greener’ outlook. We speak to two experts from within the industry to find out how it is adopting sustainable practices



peak to most people in the paper industry and it would seem sustainability is now a serious issue with more ‘green’ practices taking hold within the growing market. According to Suresh Kilam, chief executive officer of Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), the firm he runs sells between 350 to 400 tonnes of paper to the Middle East every year. “The UAE is the financial hub of the GCC and will be the main paper market hub for the GCC and MENA region,” predicts Kilam. The potential of the paper, printing and stationery industry is continuing to grow with increasing business opportunities, shipping infrastructure and geography all playing a vital role in the growth of each sector.

“The Middle East holds great potential for the recycling industry and the green message has already reached the region,” says Paperworld Middle East senior show manager Monica Kubik. With that in mind it seems one of the biggest issues facing the region’s paper sector is what to do with all the waste generated by the industry. Kubik asserts: “Sustainability is taken very seriously in the paper industry. The world consumes about 300 million tonnes of paper each year, which represents a 400% increase over the past 40 years. “Since billions of trees are cut down for this and many chemicals are used in the paper manufacturing process there is currently a lot of discussion about the environmental impact of the papermaking process.”

It’s not just in the paper sector that sustainability is becoming more than just a buzz work. “In the printing industry the environmental impact is similarly strong,” notes Kubik. “A toner cartridge thrown into a landfill can take 30 to 100 years to degrade, while they could be reused a second or third time. “Re-manufactured cartridges therefore have a 60% smaller carbon footprint than the equivalent new OEM product and could even save the consumer around 50% in cost.” The stationery sector is also giving similar attention to sustainable practices. Steffen Henneik, area sales manager at writing and marking tools manufacturer edding International GmbH, says: “Green modes of operation can save money,

May 2011

management (DIN ISO 9001), environmental management (ISO 14001) and occupational health and safety (OHSAS 18001) has long been an established and accepted part of life at edding. “For many years, recycled paper has been used for correspondence and for copying purposes within the company, with printer options generally being set to print on both sides of the paper. Packaging, displays, blisters and the like are made of 70% to 100% recycled material.” At the firm’s German offices the company’s staff working under a sun roof, with photovoltaic systems installed on top of company buildings so that solar energy is utilised to produce electricity. Henneik says this resulted in an annual saving of 158 tonnes of CO2. In 2010 a combined-heat-and-power (CHP) plant was put into service which modernised the company’s entire heating system. “Last year also saw the upgrading of the production facility in Germany,” continues Henneik. “The installation of a new cooling and heating system not only ensures a good ambient temperature within the plant, but also helps maintain efficient ventilation, heating and air conditioning.”

to the Worldwatch Institute, recycling efforts around the world recovered about 110 million tonnes, or 43% of all paper used,” she says. Citing an example from this year’s Paperworld Middle East exhibition, Kubik says that one new initiative for the Gulf region worth mentioning was presented by Omani college graduate Mustafa Barami. “Barami made sheets of paper using palm tree waste,” explains Kubik. “This process could present a new option to avoid burning the palm leaves and use this waste to create paper. “The same principle of reusing to save on waste is applicable to the printing industry — by returning empty cartridges to either be refilled or recycled, one can not only reduce waste, but also eventually minimise the production of new cartridges.” “In effect, this would save the cost equivalent of nearly one gallon of oil, which it would cost to manufacture one new laser toner cartridge.” At edding, an environmental outlook has always been part of the company’s culture area sales manager Henneik explains. “Environmental management has always been a key part of edding’s philosophy,” he says. “Certification for quality


and economy and ecology fit together offering advantages for the economy and the environment. “Machines and machine parks working with closed-loop-systems are already saving resources and material. “Another example of what can be done is to change from hydraulic machines to electric machines in order to save waste. At the end of the day, emissions have to be reduced in order to minimise the greenhouse effect,” he adds. Across the broad stationery, paper and printer industry, pressure is being placed on companies to show that they are reducing waste and actively engaging in recycling projects, asserts Paperworld’s Kubik. “International pressure from environmentalists and consumers is forcing manufacturers worldwide to adopt higher standards of environmentally-friendly production processes,” Kubik says. “The awareness of the need for greener processes and standards is increasing continuously in the printer and paper industries.” In this respect, the first line of attack for an industry known for its waste output is recycling, Kubik asserts. “The most important way to help save trees and reduce waste is by recycling. According


May 2011


Alongside the company’s upgrades at its manufacturing and office facilities the company has launched the EcoLine range, a series which combines a host of ecofriendly attributes. But despite its success in implementing eco-friendly policies, Henneik says that other firms need to follow suit. Henneik notes: “One of the most frequent questions I have is why no solar or wind power is used in order to reduce the standard power supply and save resources such as coal and oil and to avoid nuclear power generation in the manufacturing process. “Saving money on one side grants spending on the other,” he says in regards to adopting eco-friendly initiatives. “If you save money through the installation of energy saving light bulbs you can invest in other issues; we are saving approx 30,000 euros (US $43,500) a year by running efficient illuminating systems.” While in Henneik’s opinion there is little opposition to the environmental changes taking place within the industry, he adds it’s


Producing ecofriendly paper Recycled paper uses a minimum of 30% post-consumer material, such as office wastepaper or paper used by end-consumers Tree-free paper is made from agricultural residue (by-products of food and fibre production) or agricultural fibres of nonwood plants Chlorine Free paper is either unbleached or has been bleached without chlorine or chlorine derivatives — a process that can either be applied to recycled paper (PCF) or virgin paper (TCF) Paper from sustainable forestry such as all products using the FSC Logo, ensure that the trees used are from responsibly harvested and verified sources

important that firms within the sector calculate the associated costs and effect carefully in order to achieve sustainable results. As companies such as edding do their bit for the environment, so consumers should too, says Paperworld’s Kubik. “The first step to improve green initiatives in the Middle East is to educate and change the behaviour of consumers,” Kubik notes.

“Alternatives like recycled paper and recycled printer cartridges are already available in the market, but the consumers are often hesitant to buy them, because they do not understand the benefits. “If you look at paper as an example, many people in the Middle East would rather buy clean white paper, which uses a lot of chlorine in the bleaching process, instead of opting for recycled paper, which through the recycling process naturally looks less bright in colour.” Kubik claims that many consumers would not buy a recycled printer cartridges because of the fear that the quality does not match original cartridges, but notes that testing standards are already widely implemented in the industry to ensure that the quality of refilled or recycled cartridges is as good as the original. “This lack of knowledge on the part of the end-consumers makes it difficult for distributors and manufacturers to widely implement greener options for the environment in our region,” she continues. But on a positive note, it appears the industry is driving demand, and in the Middle East printer cartridge firms, paper manufactures and stationery distributers seem to be following the global trend towards sustainability. Kubik concludes: “In the printer industry, the drive for sustainability and a greener environment has helped to create a whole new industry. “The industry for global toner and inkjet remanufacturing has surged to fill a gap that OEMs were not willing to fill.”

May 2011

Green gadgets Whether you’re going for a jog or singing in the shower, BuildGreen presents the gadgets that help you do it in an eco-friendly way


The H2O Powered Shower Radio from Tango Group utilises hydrodynamics to generate energy and charge its onboard battery, allowing the user to sing along while they wash. This easy-to-install radio plumbs straight into the shower hose and comes with easy-to-use buttons. It also saves the fuss of searching for a signal by storing the last station listened to. It stores energy and will therefore work without water running through it and it has been brought to the market by the design team behind the wind-up radio.

If you’re stuck out under the sun’s gaze and find your mobile, iPad or MP3 player running out of battery, the FreeLoader Solar Charger is the ideal piece of kit to have on you. This model is 25% more powerful than the previous model in the range and is capable of holding 20% more charge. The device stores solar energy for up to three months and features an LCD data panel displaying battery status and charging source, which can be either the sun or a USB. Made from lightweight aluminium, the FreeLoader comes with a master cable and nine adapters, including a micro USB.


Technogym has launched its first ‘green’ treadmill, designed to reduce electricity consumption by up to 40%. Run Now, an environmentally-friendly treadmill, has been officially certified by German testing and certification institute TUV, which guarantees that it consumes less energy when compared to other treadmills in the same category, while still maintaining a high level of performance. Other features of the treadmill include an adjustable display stand and a ‘ready to run’ device, which increases safety by ensuring that people cannot step onto the moving belt by accident.

The big

picture Airship takes Facebook campaign sky high

With a banner reading “Facebook: Join the Energy Revolution”, the airship AE Bates flew above Facebook’s Californian headquarters last month, as the environmental organisation continued its campaign to encourage the social media giant to adopt clean energy. The ‘Unfriend Coal’ campaign is attempting to persuade Facebook bosses to power its large data centres with renewable energy rather than with coal and nuclear power. Photo credits: © Kim White/Greenpeace

Beirut hotel to adopt sustainable practices

Lebanese hotel to adopt eco-friendly practises due to demands of customers


A Lebanese hotel has announced its intention to adopt eco-friendly initiatives across the property. The 100-room Coral Suites — Al Hamra in the heart of Beirut has committed to a green programme that will aim to encourage staff and guests to save water and energy. The hotel’s general manager, Philippe Lamadieu, said that move was “just the beginning of a comprehensive strategy to realign traditional operating practices at the Coral Suites in accordance with 21st century environmental practices and new customer demands”. “Guests are now beginning to demand that their choice of accommodation fulfils their own

green principles, and we know that all hotels in the future will have to act in an environmentally friendly manner or suffer the consequences of reduced demand,” remarked Lamadieu. “With both leisure and corporate guests among our clientele, we have to lead the way in accommodating this new demand.” The hotel was likely to have been encouraged by a recent survey by sustainability performance consultants MindClick SGM, which claimed that 65% of corporate travel executives responsible for multi-million dollar travel budgets have began implementing ‘green’ business travel guidelines.

The Coral Suites — Al Hamra in Beirut.

News update Trade show to provide a voice for region’s travel trade

Delegates at last year’s World Green Tourism event in Abu Dhabi.

Conference and exhibition to provide a platform for sustainable tourism as industry event returns to Abu Dhabi “It has been acknowledged that there is a great deal of work to do in this region to establish a more sustainable tourism infrastructure in line with modern demands and expectations, and this can be the year in which we take significant steps forward,” he added. Green Abu Dhabi, one of the leading three platforms at the exhibition and conference, will focus on the UAE capital’s approach to developing a sustainable tourism infrastructure, and will highlight initiatives such as the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority’s ‘green hotel guidelines’, which will rate new properties on their environmental footprint. The event is scheduled to take place later in the year at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre from December 5-7.

Fish cookbook to tackle overfishing EWS-WWF publish recipe book that is aiming to encourage consumers to choose fish dishes wisely

Many fish stocks across the Arabian Gulf are plummeting.

“Recipes reflect the cuisines of India, the UAE, Europe and South America. “Zighy Bay Resort Oman, Le Méridien Al Aqah Beach Resort, Verre Restaurant at Hilton Dubai Creek and Flavours Restaurant at Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel and Resort offered raffle prizes to encourage recipe submissions and recognise volunteers that participated in the campaign,” Alzahlawi added. According to EWS-WWF, hammour, a highly favoured fish in the UAE, is currently being overfished seven times beyond sustainable levels and has seen its stocks decline by up to 90% since 1978.

Emirates Wildlife Society in association with WWF (EWS-WWF) has launched a new cookbook as part of its Choose Wisely sustainable fisheries campaign. The cookbook features 20 sustainable fish recipes and was unveiled last month at Gordon Ramsey’s Verre restaurant in the Hilton Dubai Creek. Recipes included in the cookbook include Tamil nadu fish curry, shaari eshkeli with lemon and olive oil, and hot-smoked green tea souli wraps. EWS-WWF conservation officer and marine biologist Nessrine Alzahlawi said: “The book is a real community effort, reflecting the special nature of the UAE residents and fish.


A travel trade show, which debuted in the capital emirate last year, will return for its second edition in late 2011 with the intention of creating a strong regional voice for ‘green’ tourism initiatives. According to organisers Streamline Marketing Group, World Green Tourism will bring together decision makers from all sectors of the Middle East travel industry who have been asked to place more emphasis on sustainability at this year’s event. Streamline director Nick Webb said: “This is a unique opportunity for the Middle East travel trade to come together and increase regional learning on sustainability and its growing significance. “At the same time, there is an opportunity to establish a regional voice on green tourism and for the travel industry to work together to identify the best way forward.


May 2011

The exterior of the entrance to Cristal Hotel Abu Dhabi.

Harmonic hospitality


Peter Blackburn, chief executive officer at Cristal Hotels and Resorts, speaks to BuildGreen about the green initiatives being implemented at the growing brand’s Abu Dhabi properties


BG: Is Abu Dhabi’s tourism sector leading the field in terms of ‘green’ hospitality in the Middle East, or is the region simply lagging behind the rest of the world in this regard? Peter Blackburn: The tourism sector in Abu Dhabi has seen some remarkable changes in the last two to three years with regards to ‘green’ initiatives in the hospitality sector. It is clearly ahead of many other countries and regions or even sectors in this regard. As approved by the Executive Council in 2006, The Environment Health and Safety Management System (EHSMS) is taking shape and as a result the tourism sector will be pioneers in this regard. The UAE has one of the highest ecological footprints in the world and these recent initiatives have helped us realise where we stand on this issue, and has shown us how we can better ourselves as we operate businesses, not only successfully, but ethically. BG: How does each Cristal Hotel encourage guest participation in its sustainable initiatives? Blackburn: We encourage our guests as much as our staff members to participate in all eco-friendly and sustainable initiatives.

Some of these include energy saving concepts; for example, if guests are not in their rooms we request they do not leave their key cards in, and we even request them to turn their lights and laptops off when they are not inside the room.

Cristal Hotels and Resorts’ Peter Blackburn.

We have a ‘Green Card’ which aims to reduce the washing of linen. This card is placed on the writing table when a guest arrives in their room and the card states that a guest can choose to wash his linen on a daily or on an alternate day basis. If the card is placed on the bed, we wash the guest linen once every two days and if it is placed on the side table we will wash the linen every day. By washing linen on alternate days we reduce the exorbitant usage of chemicals, water and the energy used in the process. Since January 2011 our guest comment cards have been online rather than on printed paper, which has reduced the use of paper, and we plan to air the ‘green’ initiatives on the ‘zero’ channel on the televisions in guest rooms so that guests can be aware of our initiatives and be part of our initiatives. BG: Is the adoption of sustainability a simple marketing ploy designed to set the brand apart from the rest of the industry? Blackburn: Clearly we do have initiatives that set us apart in the industry — as

May 2011

an upcoming chain we are determined to carve a niche and set benchmarks for the rest of the industry. This means that we want to do business the right way and clearly recognition is a part of it. When we do achieve something or implement an initiative we ensure we are unique and that our agenda is not cliché; therefore we use it as part of our marketing plan and it is definitely not a ploy. We have reached a series of milestones, including being the first hotel to design and implement the Abu Dhabi EHSMS framework and the first hotel to recycle six products in the emirate.

Guests at Cristal Hotels are encouraged to embrace sustainable initiatives.

Recycling forms a major part of Cristal Hotel’s infrustructure.

BG: Does the expansion of sustainable initiatives work hand in hand with the Cristal brand’s expansion across the region? Blackburn: As previously mentioned, the implementation of eco-friendly practices are part of our mission statements of the brand. We would encourage these practices across the chain as it expands, because we believe that it should be an integral part of our brand entity. We have already taken into consideration the guidelines for new buildings in Abu Dhabi as prescribed by Estidama for our new property-Cristal Salam on Salam Street in Abu Dhabi. Although a lot of practices have become mandatory and prescribed by law in the UAE, we would adhere to similar practices in all our hotels as part of our Corporate Social Responsibility.

BG: The hotel chain is actively participating with government agencies within the Abu Dhabi emirate; how successful have these collaborations been and should governments be taking a more active role in encouraging the hospitality industry to adopt ‘green’ practices? Blackburn: Yes, we indeed are actively involved with government and private organisations to ensure that our message and mission are loud and clear, and we also send our reports to the Abu Dhabi Tourism authority regularly. We are now working on the notice issued by the Abu Dhabi Waste Management Centre which states that a fee will be levied for the amount of waste generated. We work with the Environmental Agency of Abu Dhabi for water and energy conservation methods. If there is something we could ask for, it is only for more clarity in implementation

guidelines and more support to answer our queries when needed. It would be commendable if authorities could give us more clarity on strategies and the right people to approach. The Government should also encourage recognising entities that adhere to the guidelines specified by them and incentivising the same.

BG: Can you cite examples of sustainable initiatives taking place across your properties in the region? Blackburn: We have engaged in a series of activities and these are currently in practice at Cristal Hotel Abu Dhabi. Subsequently, we will be following the same plan at Cristal Salam Hotel, also in Abu Dhabi. These initiatives include encouraging good management practices to conserve energy, such as turning lights off when not required in offices, public areas and parking lots, and we have replaced our regular lighting with CFLs in guest rooms and a few public areas. We plan on using LED lights in the future and we have participated in Earth Hour. We are keen on working towards the 10% reduction in energy consumption as per the guidelines in the Abu Dhabi EHSMS and have already implemented several water conservation initiatives. We have installed water savers in our showers that reduce pressure in the flow of excess water and reduced the capacity of water in the closets from 7 litres to 5 litres. We also train our staff regularly on ecofriendly concepts Waste Management is another important area for Cristal Hotels and we operate a regular waste management system. We run the first hotel in the emirate to recycle more than six products including paper, plastic, aluminium cans, tetrapak, glass, cartridges, toners and batteries. We also have recycling bins at parking lots and guest areas to encourage guests to engage in recycling and we use 100% recycled paper for all printing purposes at the hotel.


We were the first hotel in the emirate to design an energy-model study and we use sustainability as part of our mission to implement eco-friendly concepts across the business — it is certainly a unique selling proposition.

We run the first hotel in the emirate of Abu Dhabi to recycle more than six products”

BG: Do you believe there should be a country-wide or regional association dedicated to ‘green’ hospitality, and if such an organisation existed what would be the immediate and long-term benefits for hotel chains like Cristal Hotels? Blackburn: We believe that there could be a single entity that can work towards green initiatives across the nation or even across the region. The reason for this is that it will push us towards our goals. As an industry we must agree that we do have common goals and common targets. As for the benefits for hotels, we think it would be ideal in bringing us together, thereby enabling new ideas and brainstorming innovations for better practices and quicker implementation. It can also help us highlight our challenges on a stronger note to the governing authorities.


May 2011

Investment update GREEN BUSINESS

...Multi-million dollar ethanol investment in Africa...UK firms slammed over carbon cuts...Egypt wind tender to be launched... Egypt to launch wind power tendert

Large ethanol facility investment in South Africa

Egypt’s electricity minister has announced plans to launch a tender in May to choose companies to build the first phase of a 1000MW wind power project along the Gulf of Suez. According to the country’s electricity and energy minister, Hassan Younes, the power plants will be constructed on a build-own-operate (BOO) basis with the tender process consisting of two phases, each covering 500MW. The successful bidder will build, finance and operate the plants for a period of between 20 and 25 years. Egypt has plans in place to add 58,000MW of capacity to its grid by 2027.

A US $251 million investment to build a sugar and ethanol facility in Zambia has been made by South Africa’s AGZAM Project Developers. Work on the biofuel plant, which will create thousands of jobs in Zambia, is set to begin later this month. Zambia Development Agency director Muhabi Lungu said: “The company will produce 200,000 tonnes of sugar and 28 million litres of bioethanol a year. “Production [at the facility] is expected to start by 2013 and we expect that the project will create around 4000 jobs,” he added.

Report slams FTSE 100 companies


FTSE 100 companies have been criticised in their efforts to reduce emissions, after purchasing low volumes of carbon offsets. A study by carbon offsetting company Carbon Retirement has urged low- and medium-emitting FTSE-100 companies to purchase more carbon offsets, after it found that just 0.1% of emissions created by the UK’s largest firms have been voluntarily offset. The report stated: “If the FTSE 100 is to make meaningful steps towards reducing their collective environmental impact, then offsetting, as well as ambitious emission reduction strategies, must play a more substantial role.” The study suggested that firms should have offsets verified by a “high quality thirdparty standard”.

USDA to support sustainable projectst The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) will award bioenergy and biobased products with research grants as part of its aim to aid the development of sustainable projects. Following the selection process, the chosen projects will implement sustainable regional systems for the production of biofuels. In California, three of the projects have been looking at the viability and sustainability of utilising poplar, switchgrass and sugarcane feedstocks, while another three projects in the state of Michigan in the Great Lakes Region have been studying the environmental impact of using particular feedstocks.



Corinthia Hotel Lisbon Philips MASTER LEDlamps reduce energy costs and stimulate the senses in the Corinthia Hotel Lisbon “The Philips MASTER LEDspot GU10 7W is ideal for creating attractive and inviting surroundings. It increases the amount of light, with the same number of light points, while reducing energy consumption by approximately 80%. Moreover it is no longer necessary to use transformers, since the lamps installed operate on 230V.” Pedro Ferreira, Regional Chief Engineer, Corinthia Hotel Lisbon

Project info Customer Corinthia Hotel Lisbon Location Lisbon, Portugal Philips products MASTER LEDspot GU10 7W, dimmable • Initial investment € 189,900 • Payback time 9 months • Total yearly energy savings: €202,599 (of which €51,385 on maintenance and €151,214 on energy) = 635,181 kg CO2 per year or 31,755 trees



The solution

The Corinthia Hotel Lisbon, with its 521 rooms, is the largest five-star hotel in the city and is part of the exclusive Wyndham Grand Collection, a portfolio of top hotels providing unique experiences in key destinations throughout the world. These hotels focus on the art of hospitality, exemplary service, sophistication and innovation, environmental policy, comfort, design and the quality of life provided by the spaces which constitute the brand. Elegant and modern, with magnificent views and situated at the heart of the financial centre of Lisbon a few metres from the Gulbenkian Museum and the best commercial areas, the Corinthia Hotel Lisbon is a benchmark for the city. The hotel has been designed with comfort and attention to detail in mind, in order to to stimulate the senses.

The electricity consumed in lighting represents a significant proportion of the total energy consumed in a hotel. Its contribution to the establishment’s total energy consumption fluctuates between 12% and 18%. In the Corinthia Hotel Lisbon Philips MASTER LEDlamps were used in all the light fittings, especially in places where the atmosphere created by the lighting is important, such as the corridors, rooms and reception. A total of 6,330 MASTER LEDspots have been installed.

The challenge Lighting plays an important role in the atmosphere of a space. The main challenge faced in the Corinthia Hotel Lisbon was precisely to find a source of light which reduced energy consumption without compromising either the quality of light or the atmosphere of each area of the hotel. This is because one of the disadvantages of traditional energy-saving bulbs is that the light is too white and sometimes this interferes with the decorative details, which are then not properly highlighted. So the management’s biggest challenge was to find a light source that is very energy-efficient and at the same time makes no concessions to the hotel’s requirements in the field of comfort and ambience.

Benefits One of the advantages of these lamps is that, in addition to the warm colour temperature (2,700K), they can also be dimmed, ideal characteristics for creating attractive and inviting surroundings. Another benefit is the fact that in places where 35W halogen spots were installed previously, it is now possible to increase the amount of light, with the same number of light points, at the same time as reducing energy consumption by approximately 80%. With an initial investment of €189,900 and a 9-month payback period, serious energy savings are achieved within a short space of time. It is no longer necessary to use transformers, since the lamps installed operate on 230V. With virtually no maintenance these bulbs are suitable for applications 24/7. Frequent replacement of lamps, involving the use of ladders and other equipment by hotel employees, is no longer necessary, resulting in less disturbance for hotel guests.


May 2011

The UAE has undergone a rapid transformation in the past decade and sustainability will no doubt play a big role as the country moves forward.

Realising the vision

Dr Ilham Kadri, general manager, Dow Advanced Materials — Middle East and Africa and commercial director, Europe, Middle East and Africa for Dow Water and Process Solutions, discusses the economic value of the UAE’s Vision 2021 and assesses whether it is attainable and sustainable. Kadri also talks about a home that could make a difference to both the wallet and environment



he global recession (or ‘economic downturn’ for the weak hearted) can largely be attributed to the prioritisation of short term gains over sustainable growth and returns. Of course, that is not the case everywhere. Within the region, the UAE has always had the foresight to understand the importance of sustainability — from diversifying its economy away from petroleum to laying the grounds for Masdar City, the world’s first ‘city’ to be powered by renewable energy. The UAE’s approach is not a haphazard or whimsical one, but a detailed framework set out to guide the nation’s progress. The country’s Vision 2021 is testament to its understanding of sustainability

across the board, from economic viability and protecting the environment to nurturing its national talent and workforce. Vision 2021 is unique to the region in placing equal emphasis on the environment alongside such things as a sustainable economic infrastructure. This is because of the understanding that ‘green’ is a part of overall sustainability and works together alongside other aspects of sustainability towards a stronger bottom line in the long term. “As a leader of the green revolution, the UAE is conscious of its responsibility to safeguard nature and mitigate the effects of climate change on its habitat and ecosystems in order to ensure that future generations inherit an environmentally sustainable world.” Vision 2021

The UAE’s Government Strategy 2011-2013 highlights its approach to achieving Vision 2021: respond effectively to climate change and environmental hazards, conserve natural resources and promote diverse ecosystems, safeguard a healthy and clean environment and reduce pollution; with specific tactics under each approach. But the UAE has been criticised for being overambitious and overzealous in its endeavours with naysayers who claim the technology does not exist and if it does, it is simply not cost effective. With initiatives like the government mandated Green Building Directive in Dubai and the Abu Dhabi government’s plan to have 7% of its energy come from renewable resources by 2020, the UAE

May 2011

needs to find existing products and solutions to make these objectives feasible and not just something on paper. It also needs to adopt a phased implementation strategy as this is not an overnight task. Fortunately, such technologies do exist today and are both cost effective and affordable and the understanding of the phased approach has been put into action in the country by such entities as Masdar. In May, The Dow Chemical Company debuted the ‘Vision Zero’ home — the first ever affordable net-zero energy home. A net-zero energy home is one that uses about 60% to 70% less energy than a conventional home, with the balance of its energy needs supplied by renewable technologies. In fact, the three-bedroom, two-bathroom, 316m2 home produces enough energy to sell back into the public electricity grid.

The Vision Zero home is just one example of how readily available technologies can be combined and applied as the UAE strives to achieve its Vision 2021 and build an energy efficient, economically viable and sustainable future. The applications and effectiveness of these technologies have already been proven; it is merely a matter of assessing the country’s needs and identifying how to most effectively use such technologies. Also important alongside these technologies are the implementation processes. Backcasting, a process being undertaken by the likes of Masdar, can be instrumental in bringing about such change. It is the process of understanding the country’s objectives and developing the path forward to achieving the Vision 2021, rather than just projecting where the country will be based on its current activities; it is an opportunity for the UAE to map out its own future. “Anticipating the problems of tomorrow is the only reasonable way to preserve and enhance our way of life, acting with initiative in full awareness of our collective responsibility.” Vision 2021

The path towards achieving the Vision 2021 initiative may be tough but it is achievable, says Dr Ilham Kadri.

The house saves more energy than it consumes while averting the release of over 20,345kgs of CO2 each year. In practical terms that is the equivalent of carbon sequestered by 522 trees seedlings for 10 years or 4.3 acres of pine or fir forests in a year, which accounts for about 2924 trees. Net-zero energy homes also have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce dependence on oil, while increasing sustainability by using building materials made from renewable resources . The products featured in the home were selected and integrated to improve its energy efficiency and reduce its energy requirements and carbon emissions. This includes everything from the energy efficient compact fluorescent lights (CFL) to the renewable energy-fuelled solar water heater. The construction of the Vision Zero home features a range of readily available advanced technology from Dow, including solar roofing shingles, which integrates photovoltaic cells into roofing materials, and next-generation Styrofoam brand insulation and air-sealing products to reduce energy consumption for heating and cooling.


The UAE’s Government Strategy 2011-2013 highlights how it will approach the aims of Vision 2021.


The green spy SOCIETY

April 2011

For our very own green spy, no topic is off limits, and this month the spy brings up the taboo subject of population growth and looks at its possibly catastrophic effects

he world’s population is expected to reach seven billion at the turn of 2012. As that time draws near, a Malthusian disaster will certainly develop. Panic that the world is overpopulated has been increasing, caused both by the persistent rise in the number of people and by concerns about climate change. Some quick figures: human population took approximately 250,000 years to reach 1 billion (in the early 19th century). More than a century passed before it reached two billion (in 1927) and the next billion took only 33 years (1927-60). The one after that took 14 years. The following two stages, to five billion and then six billion, took 13 and 12 years, in that order. Yet, the increase from six billion to seven billion will be the last to happen in such a short space of time. The next billion will take slightly longer — 13 or 14 years — and the billion after that, which will increase the population to nine billion, will take 20 to 25 years. By that time, around 2050, the momentum will be slowing towards zero and the world will be hopefully approaching a roughly stable population for the first time in centuries. The epoch of shortening time lapses is by now over, even if the absolute size of the population is still on the rise. Momentum matters massively in demography. Large families in an earlier generation equal more mothers in the current one and hence more children, even if families are smaller and the fundamental drive towards growth has dwindled. It takes another generation before the upshot of smaller families starts to show up in the general population figures. The total size of the population has continued to rise because it still reflects the momentum of the 1960s and 1970s or the baby-boom period in America and Europe, along with the very high birth rates in developing countries. I cannot help but wonder how nine or even seven billion people is possibly sustainable. The linkages between population and climate change are often complex. Yet, as the growth of population, economies and consumption outpaces the Earth’s capacity to adjust, climate change could become cataclysmic. According to the WWF, the world will require an extra planet in 20 years’ time if it continues gobbling up resources as it does now. It is clear that a variety of environmental problems — from climate change to species loss to overzealous resource extraction — are either partially caused or exacerbated by population growth. We are already well into overshoot of the planet’s capacity to sustain us. “Trends such as the loss of half of the planet’s forests, the depletion of most of its major fisheries, and the alteration of its atmosphere and climate are closely related to the fact that human population expanded from mere millions in prehistoric times to more than six billion today,” says Robert Engelman of Population Action International. According to Population Connection, population growth since 1950 is the cause of the clearing of 80% of rainforests, the loss of tens of thousands of species, an increase in greenhouse gas emissions by some 400% and the expansion or commercialisation of as much as half of the Earth’s surface land. Heavy-consumption lifestyles also drain resources at an alarming rate; take the example of the USA, which represents 4% of the world’s population, but accounts for 25% of the overall consumption. So what are the possible solutions: access to contraception, support for family planning, taxes, revolution? In the recent Global Demographic Trends and Future Carbon Emissions paper by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, speedier economic development is not the only factor or a necessary one in aiding population decline. Policies can also considerably influence fertility trends. While the suitability of policies that hearten even lower fertility in countries where it is already low is contentious and would require reflection on the tradeoffs related to increased aging, in other regions there are several such policies

already deemed attractive in their own right.


According to the movement Global Population Speak Out, powerful taboos remain when it comes to speaking about population. Vested interests, both fiscal and ideological, prefer it when population discussions remain hot and offlimits. If these taboos are permitted to dictate, we really have little chance of coming together, as a global society, and attaining a truly sustainable world.


May 2011

Celebrating Earth Day Dubai office building opened up to visitors for photo gallery to promote the importance of conservation programmes taking place across the world


s part of Canon Middle East’s drive to become more socially and environmentally conscious, last month the company organised an environmental photo exhibition at its office in Dubai Internet City (DIC) to mark this year’s Earth Day. Teaming up with Emirates Wildlife Society in association with WWF (EWS-WWF) and DIC, Canon Middle East displayed images taken from the WWF’s Global Photo Network in the building foyer, inviting residents and workers from businesses operating in the DIC cluster. Alongside the exhibition representatives from EWS-WWF were on site to help facilitate a bulb exchange programme for local residents and office workers to swap non-energy efficient bulbs with energy saving CFLs. EWS-WWF director of business development and marketing, Nicolas Delaunay, said: “This photo exhibition is a great opportunity for everyone to learn about environmental issues that matter to all of us.


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“We hope that it will serve as an inspiration to adopt the necessary changes for a more sustainable future.” Among images of wild pandas in China, African gazelles in the Namibian desert and Mediterranean marine life, all photographs brought to the attention of visitors the importance of conservation programmes across the world. Canon Middle East corporate communications manager Mai Youssef remarked: “The key is to create as much awareness as possible on the pressing need to conserve the environment and to involve residents in the various programmes that we undertake.” Majed Al Suwaidi, director of business development at Dubai Internet City, commented: “It has become absolutely imperative for companies in the Middle East to take their environmental mandate seriously and initiate concrete steps towards the region’s conservation.”

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May 2011


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Mai Youssef from Canon Middle East standing alongside an image of African gazelles in the sands of the Namibian desert.


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May 2011

Conference on Wind Energy and Wildlife Impacts May 2-5 Trondheim Norway World Renewable Energy Congress May 8-13 Konsert and Kongress, Linköping Sweden ACEEE Hot Water Forum May 10-12 DoubleTree Berkeley Marina Hotel USA ACEEE Hot Water Forum May 25 May 17-19 Sustainable Facilities Expo BuildGreen’s one year anniversary Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre (By invitation only) UAE Zumtobel Centre for Sustainable Lighting UAE The World Student A private event accessible by invitation Environmental Summit only, this anniversary will bring together the May 18-21 UAE’s ‘Green Elite’, movers and shakers, Blekinge Institute of Technology, Karlskrona and industry professionals to celebrate Sweden the magazine’s contribution to educating the business-to-business community on environmental issues in what is certain to be the leading sustainability networking event of the year.


Find out which environmental events and conferences are happening and where in the coming months June 22 - 24 EPIC The Dubai Mall UAE The EPIC Sustainable Living Expo (EPIC) is the Middle East’s first consumer show designed to promote eco-friendly products and services. EPIC, organised by the UAE’s SS Lootah Group and Dubai Events and Promotions (DEPE), stands for ‘Eco-Wise, Progressive, Intelligent Consumer’.

JULY 4 - 6 Environmental Management and Engineering Calgary Canada This event will explore challenges posed by the confluence of finite energy supplies and demographic trends, and will discuss possible solutions to these problems

Solar Asia 2011 July 28-30 Institute of Fundamental Studies, Kandy  Sri Lanka World Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Conference October 17-19 Bali International Convention Centre, Nusa Dua Indonesia

Life Conference May 25-26 Brussels Belgium Gulf Environment Forum May 29-31 Jeddah Hilton Saudi Arabia

Renewable Energy World Conference and Expo - Europe June 7-9 Fiera Milano, Milan Italy



May 2011

A look at our sustainable heritage


he natural and historical landscape in Cappadocia, central Turkey, has become one of the region’s most attractive tourism destinations. Shaped by human hands over many centuries, this site’s colourful cultural richness is starkly evident from the natural and historical landscape, and through folklore fashioned by the coexistence of people and nature for thousands of years. Today the tradition of digging into the rock to create extra space continues in Cappadocia, due to cool temperatures underground. The caves served its ancient inhabitants as refrigerators in which fruit and vegetables were stored.


In nearby tourist centres, many local handcraft shops have been widened by digging and many locals have used the technique to build underground warehouses. In 1986, the Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List, and today nearly three million tourists a year visit the region. The major worry in 2011 is that the site is in danger from excessive and intensive tourism and calls are being made by campaigners who state that tourists should embrace traditional cultural products, crafts and folklore, rather than cause the ancient dwellings further degeneration.

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BuildGreen Magazine  

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

BuildGreen Magazine  

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