Green building technology gains ground in Kingdom

Sustainable regulations coming into force pushes green tech adoption

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Andy White says that Saudi Arabia is seeing a shift towards green building technology. Picture: ITP Images
Andy White says that Saudi Arabia is seeing a shift towards green building technology. Picture: ITP Images

As the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia undergoes a construction boom, building services experts have said that they can see a noticeable shift towards green building technology, despite the high costs associated with it.

As the largest market in the GCC, the Kingdom has more than $112.8bn worth of projects expected in 2012, the Saudi Gazette, a local daily reported, citing recent data.

Despite budget constraints, green products are being specified at the design stage, said Andy White, event director for the Big 5 Saudi Expo.

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“There are a growing number of legal implications intended to ensure buildings are sustainable and environmentally friendly. At the same time, products that can enable such sustainability are being continually developed and improved,” he said.

“With sustainability on firmly on the agenda for the construction industry, many projects in the region have been voluntarily designed and built according to a revised form of the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system.”

GCC countries are amongst the largest consumers of energy in the world, thanks to an increasing population and a growing construction sector, a report by Ventures Middle East has found.

According to the data gathered, member countries rank second in per capita energy consumption. The demand for energy in the GCC is growing at a rate of 5.5%, compared to the world average of 1.2%.

“New technologies across the HVAC and water sectors will have significant impact on the industry. Air conditioning is the biggest consumer of energy in a building, but new technologies are being developed which use natural sources of energy, that saves power and reduces maintenance costs compared to traditional systems,” White added.

With new HVAC technology, such as Variable Refrigerant Flow, becoming popular in the Middle East, building service engineers and designers can increase the efficiency of HVAC units, thereby reducing a building’s energy consumption by 35% to 40%.

Furthermore, with new plumbing technology also being developed, there are substantial savings to be made with regards to water usage, White said.

“Saudi Arabia is one of the most influential and prosperous construction markets in the Middle East at present. International companies, many of whom are struggling to sell products in their home markets, are keen to showcase the products and services they can bring to this market,” he explained.

“Designers will need to meet the demands placed upon them by customers and as long as they have access to new products at a good price, I don’t see why they can’t meet the challenge.”

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