Going for gold

Dubai government's mandate last year that from January 2008 all buildings in the UAE have to be constructed along green principles has drawn much attention to the topic of sustainability.
Going for gold
By Michele Howe
Mon 03 Mar 2008 04:00 AM

Dubai government's mandate last year that from January 2008 all buildings in the UAE have to be constructed along green principles has drawn much attention to the topic of sustainability.

All of a sudden, everyone seems to be talking about how important sustainability is, and how environmentally friendly their new project will be.

But what isn't to be overlooked is the role that outdoor design plays in creating a sustainable development.

In our special report on sustainable design, Dr Bassam Abu-Hijleh, senior lecturer at Atkins and head of the sustainable design of the built environment programme at the British University in Dubai, drives home the importance of an all-inclusive approach to sustainable development.

"People are now just talking about the green buildings, but actually what they should be looking at is the green city which includes not just the buildings but the urban set-up, the landscape, the transportation. It has to be looked at from a much wider point of view than just the building."

"You can do a very good building but if you destroy the environment around it, then it is not sustainable so everything has to be in harmony," he says.

Steps are being taken in the region to make design more sustainable - Emirates Building Council's modification of the US LEED rating system is an indication of this - but more still needs to be done to give the UAE an environmental record to be proud of, and make it a leader not a laggard on the sustainable front.

Perhaps what is most needed is a change of attitude, a raising of awareness as to why it is important to switch to more sustainable practices, and greater education to overcome the perceived cost obstacles.

Masdar City, designed by Foster + Partners and profiled in this issue, has shown just what the region can achieve when all parties make a commitment to sustainability. We now need more of the same.

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