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Applying Building Rating System in the Gulf Countries

Introduction

Sustainable building is referred to as development in the environment that meets the present needs without compromising future generation’s ability to meet their potential needs. The gulf countries are known for petroleum products exportation to the whole world. However, there are several challenges that get associated with this petroleum fuels as they contribute to a high percentage of the carbon emissions in the world today (Hartley, Medlock and Eller, 2007, p.88).

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What is Sustainable Building?

Sustainable building is referred to as development in the environment that meets the present needs without compromising future generation’s ability to meet their potential needs. This means that sustainable building is one where builders consider factors necessary for conserving the environment bearing in mind that there will be a generation in the future (Al- Ibrahim, 2009, p.98). This can be achieved by using materials that do not require harming the environment during their acquisition. For example, constructors should make skillful use of timber in order to protect the environment by cutting down few trees. This is because, cutting down of trees for timber leads to deforestation which has a lot of negative effects on the environment.

Deforestation can lead to draughts that affect the future generation hence causing a lot of trouble (Herb, 2008, p.73). Construction must be in such a way that its economic viability and comfort of its occupants is achieved and at the same time reducing its impact on the environment over its lifetime. The main areas that sustainable building focuses at are the reduction of energy requirements whereby the structure being built is set up in use of power is reduced. For example, a building where natural light is enough do not require extra lighting from electricity hence saving on energy. Insulating structures to conserve natural energy is another crucial consideration in sustainable building whereby houses get insulated to keep them warm during winter. This reduces the amount of power consumed in keeping houses warm for the comfort of their occupants (McKinsey, 2008, p 23). Reduction in the amount of water consumed is another factor that is looked into in sustainable building because water is a crucial commodity that requires to be conserved at all times. Rain water can be re used by homesteads hence helping in conserving water sources. Rain water can be tapped and stored in tanks for future use for domestic or agricultural purposes (Croston, 2009, p. 65). Instead of using piped water from rivers and seas which affect living creatures that depend on river water, people can adapt the use of rain water from their roof tops hence conserving the natural environment. In addition, sustainable building should ensure easy transport for the occupants. This means that access to public transport is enhanced, and proximity to amenities is enhanced, as well. For example, nearness to work places or shopping malls is crucial in sustainable building (Marcel, 2006, p.54).

Energy Challenges at Gulf countries (Saudi Arabian, United Arab Emirates and Qatar)

The gulf countries are known for petroleum products exportation to the whole world. However, there are several challenges that get associated with this petroleum fuels as they contribute to a high percentage of the carbon emissions in the world today. Since this is the most used energy in gulf countries, climate is faced with formidable danger as emissions are not effectively controlled (McKinsey, 2008, p 23). These countries do not have enough water for creating hydroelectricity which would reduce the amount of carbon emitted to the atmosphere. If the countries have large water bodies, carbon sinks would be created to absorb some of the emissions from industries. On the other hand if there was plenty of water in the gulf countries, planting of trees would be easy hence helping turn the place green (Al- Ibrahim, 2009, p.98). Green forests help in conservation of energy and environment by absorbing some of the gases emitted by machines and auto mobiles in the Gulf States. Gulf countries are faced by challenges in choosing alternative energy to rely on instead of fossil fuels. It is expensive for these countries to import electricity from neighboring countries that produce hydro power (Hertog, 2008, p 646). This narrows down options for these countries leaving them with the sole alternative of using their own produced fossil fuels. Pricing is another challenge facing these countries as petroleum oil is underprice hence making it hard for producers to handle costs associated with preventing climate change. These countries are forced to pay a lot of money by the international neighbors since they produce fossil gases, which affect the climate and environment in general. Low cost of fossil fuels as a source of energy in gulf countries has discouraged people from exploring other sources of energy (JICA, 2008, p.234). For example, solar energy can help reduce energy challenges but people are hesitant to venture into solar energy systems. In fact, these low prices have resulted to wasteful consumption of energy in the gulf (Geddes, 1990, p.245).

Commonly building rating system used in the gulf countries. (LEED, BREEAM and Estidama)

Rating tools or assessment tools are measures that help in ensuring buildings are to the standards required. These buildings must have the sustainability effects and facilities also must have involved the right experts in their construction process (Croston, 2009, p. 65). The purpose of using this assessment or rating tools in any construction is to ensure that designs and construction of buildings are far above the minimum standards set by the regulating agencies. In the gulf countries, several rating systems are used when assessing buildings. These include estidama also known as pearl rating, which was developed by Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council. Upon its development, pearl rating was launched on April in the year 2010 (Cooperation, 2009. P.87). this method of assessing buildings includes prerequisites and voluntary credits. It has several elements of credit namely the credit available which is the element that gives numerical scoring available for particular actions. It also describes the intention of credit available. For example, it explains the importance of certain actions to the structure of the building. The second element is the credit requirement which describes projects that have met the required criteria hence receiving credit for meeting the expected intent. There is also the credit submission which describes what need to be prepared and submitted; finally there is the calculation and methodology (Depledge, 2008, p. 65). This provides vital information on the basis and references required in preparing calculations to be submitted in the report (EPU-NTUA, 2009, p.54).

Another rating system used in the gulf countries is the leadership in energy and environmental design which measures the performance of a building against its established parameters and third party verification. LEED concentrates on specific areas in buildings, for example, it concentrates on the sustainable sites whereby it looks on nearness to social amenities and public transport. Water efficiency, whereby the system check how water can be provided to the building to assure its occupants of their intended comfort. (Kubba, 2010, p 102) Energy and the atmosphere are not left behind in this type of rating system. It has to look into how the building can conserve energy by ensuring adequate lighting to utilize natural light. Material resources are another aspect of the LEED and finally the indoor and environmental quality whereby the rating system ensures that the condition of indoor and the surrounding environment are conducive for the occupants of the building (Al- Ibrahim, 2009, p.98).

Finally, another rating system used in gulf countries is the BREEAM which is also known as BRE Environmental Assessment Method. This method is believed to set the best acts in sustainable designing of buildings. It addresses a wide range of sustainable and environmental issues (Kubba, 2010, p.34). It aims at the management, health wellbeing, energy, transport pollution etc. environmental weights in this system are tailored to suit the conditions on site. Evaluations of various aspects are summed up to get the overall rating of the building (Renewable Energy Scenarios for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia)

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The Cost & Benefit of going Green

Going green comes with several costs due to facilities incorporated in green buildings. For example, insulating materials required in order to conserve energy are not cheap hence raising the cost of constructing an eco-friendly building (Depledge, 2008, p. 65). The floors are covered with wood from green forests in order to keep the house warm all times hence reducing the amount of energy that could be used in keeping the house warm. The walls are painted with non-toxic paints, which provide the occupants of the house with a conducive and safe environment to stay. All these elements add up to a lot of costs hence making many people fear incurring them and instead going for other alternatives, which are cheap but eco- unfriendly (Croston, 2009, p. 65).

On the other hand, there are benefits that come with the green building and they include, saving money and energy by not incurring many expenses in creating comfort in the house. For example, eco-friendly houses tend to have adequate lighting hence giving its occupant the advantage of utilizing natural light. If a building does not allow adequate natural light, its occupants may be required to light the house using electricity during day time hence incurring extra expenses. Another benefit is saving ones lungs whereby paints used in green building are non-toxic hence friendly to the lungs (Hertog, 2010, p.63). The environment is also pollution free hence saving occupants’ lungs of diseases associated with air pollution.

Conclusion

It is important for everyone in the world to play their part in ensuring that the environment is protected. This will promote practice of sustainable development hence increasing the art of green building.

References

Al-Ibrahim, A., 2009. Energy Efficiency Activities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Presentation to the GRC/EPU-NTUA/CEPS workshop on ‘Enhancing the EU-GCC Relations within a New Climate Regime: Prospects and Opportunities for Cooperation’, Brussels, February 26, 2009 Al-Saleh, Y., P. Upham and K. Malik, 2008. Renewable Energy Scenarios for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research Working Paper 125.

Croston, G.2009. Starting green: an ecopreneur’s toolkit for starting a green business from business plan to profits. Entrepreneur Press, Sydney.

Depledge, J., 2008. Striving for No: Saudi Arabia in the Climate Change Regime. Global Environmental Politics 8 (4), pp. 9–35.

EPU-NTUA, 2009. Background Paper to the Workshop on Enhancing the EU-GCC Relations within a New Climate Regime: Prospects and Opportunities for Cooperation, Brussels, unpublished report 43

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Geddes, B., 1990. Building ‘State’ Autonomy in Brazil, 1930–1964. Comparative Politics 22 (2), pp. 217–35.

Hartley, P., K. Medlock and S. Eller, 2007. Empirical Evidence on the Operational Efficiency of National Oil Companies. Baker Institute, Rice University, Houston. Web.

Herb, M., 2008. Parliaments, Economic Diversification and Labor Markets in Kuwait and the UAE, manuscript.

Hertog, S., 2008. Petromin: The Slow Death of Statist Oil Development in Saudi Arabia. Business History 50 (5), pp. 645–67.

Hertog, S. 2010. Princes, Brokers, Bureaucrats: Oil and State in Saudi Arabia, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY

JICA, 2008. The Master Plan Study for Energy Conservation in the Power Sector in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, draft final report.

Kubba, S. 2010.Green Construction Project Management and Cost Oversight. Taylor & Francis, New Jersey.

Marcel, V., 2006. Oil Titans: National Oil Companies in the Middle East. Washington, DC: Chatham House and Brookings Institution.

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McKinsey and Company, 2008. Carbon Capture and Storage: Assessing the Economics, McKinsey Climate Change Initiative.

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