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Mon 4 Jan 2010 04:00 AM

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Stop talking and do what you said you’d do

Wow, that was a hell of a year. I'm sure I'm not alone when I say it feels good to see that back of 2009. Trust me, dear readers, I tried to say positive.

Wow, that was a hell of a year. I'm sure I'm not alone when I say it feels good to see that back of 2009. Trust me, dear readers, I tried to say positive.

I probably bored you all to death with proclamations of construction grandeur in countries across the GCC. You probably became quite tired of my urging you to do more with less, stay strong and take the high road. Well, as we embark on another year together, my message this time is both simple and straightforward: In 2010, do what you said you'd do.

This time, I'm urging you to remember your commitments, especially with regard to running your companies smarter, more transparent and greener. In the midst of the credit crunch, very few people could be asked to remember their green commitments because whether your field is architecture, engineering, interior design, facilities management or MEP, green technology is initially more expensive. But I don't have to remind you that, over the lifecycle of the building, that same technology will actually save you money in terms of energy use, cooling loads, lighting, and reduced carbon footprint...not to mention, garner extra LEED points.

In the midst of the credit crunch, I'm sure it was rather attractive to shop around for building products and professionals promising the same quality at a lower cost. I'd be willing to bet that those low-cost options, as unscrupulous as they seemed, were actually considered-if only for a moment-in boardrooms and back rooms across the region. My only hope is that honesty and integrity prevailed more often than not.

When I remember back to 2007-the year I first arrived on the Dubai building scene-I recall that everything was booming. There were more projects, contracts and competitions than anyone could handle and money was being made by the truckload. In the middle of all of it, came Sheikh Mohammed's green building decree. From that moment on, every project, product and property began marketing itself as ‘green' this and ‘sustainable' that. Fast forward to January 2010.

The prospectors are gone. The design gimmicks and fads have passed. The industry has returned to a manageable pace. Dare I say it, even the sustainability/green building rhetoric has been quieted. So, dear readers, in the most polite and unoffending way I can, I say this: It's time to put up or shut up.

If you said your company was going to be a green one before the crisis, do it. Pull the trigger. Make the necessary investment, build a properly green building and reap the benefits of cheaper energy and positive PR. Likewise, if you committed yourself to adopting ISO 9001 pre-credit crunch but never got around to it, do it now. Build quality buildings and set a regional benchmark. It's a new year and a fresh start. Now, stop talking and do what you said you'd do.

Jeff Roberts is the group editor of ITP Business' design tiles.

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