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Fri 1 Jun 2007 12:00 AM

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The start of a new era

As MEP Middle East relaunches in a new format, the construction industry is implementing its own changes for the future.

As MEP Middle East relaunches in a new format, the construction industry is implementing its own changes for the future.

The announcement by the Emirates Green Building Council (EmiratesGBC) that it is finalising a building energy rating system which accounts for Middle East environmental conditions is good news for the industry and the region as a whole. It is also a sign of the wholesale changes that have taken place over the past few years.

As a voluntary method to increase the energy efficiency of buildings, it's not so long ago that a rating system such as this would have failed before it got off the ground. But as the EmiratesGBC has found, the opposite now seems to be true. The Middle East's construction industry, and the MEP sector in particular, has been crying out for a method of accurately assessing and comparing the potential energy consumption of their projects. Energy efficiency is now being viewed as an economic necessity.

Firms from all sectors of the industry are already making strides towards reducing their energy use and carbon footprint. Developer Nakheel has commissioned international experts the Sustainability Advisory Group to review its operations, while air conditioning manufacturer Trane has become a business partner with the Clinton Climate Initiative. And these are just two examples of such recent activities.

In the absence of a locally-based rating system, several developments in the region have already been assessed to the USA Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Awards. As the EmiratesGBC system will be an adaptation of this, it should further ease the implementation.

In a more visible move towards sustainability in the built environment, the last of three wind turbines has been installed on the Bahrain World Trade Centre. An estimated 11-15% of the building's electricity needs is expected to be provided by this renewable energy source; and signs are that this will be the first of many future developments incorporating such technologies. Another project that will use renewables, the DIFC Lighthouse, is planned to be among the world's first zero or low carbon buildings. Who could honestly say they would have predicted a Middle East location for such a project even five years ago? But this looks likely to be the first of many.

With billions of Dollars of projects still planned for the region, this is a prime time to embrace energy efficient technologies and truly begin a new era.

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