Greener Built Environment in Middle East

The key drivers for greener built environment in the Middle East are economic in nature. Green and energy-efficient buildings are getting traction in the region due to increasing energy prices and the need for energy efficient and affordable energy solutions and practices within the construction sector. Large real estate developers find in this a new marketing and PR tool that contributes to their bottom line and to demonstrating their commitment to sustainable development goals and environmental responsibility. From the supply side, suppliers and service providers find new business opportunities in this market transformation and this has become a driver for new services and materials. 

Key Drivers

Transformation in the built environment requires change on the demand side that triggers change on the supply side. Consumer behavior and preferences are the key driver in the market. Understanding what shapes the various consumers' preferences in various communities and countries would help make the green change more sustainable. The data on buildings performance and the social, economic and environmental impact of such performance is hardly available.

Deploying ICT solutions to enable monitoring and verification is another market enabler and opportunity for local businesses and professionals. Finally, establishing a local green buildings industry is what would sustain the green movement. Leveraging local resources and guiding local innovation towards green building solutions should be the focus of the future. 

Vital Ingredients

Awareness raising is usually the long-term investment in behavioral change. When it comes to greening the real estate sector, there are several target groups across the supply chain that require different forms of awareness raising. Starting from architects, designers and developers and passing by electro-mechanical and construction engineers, towards contractors, material suppliers and consultants.

Each of those has a different need and mindset and would require creative messages and tools to join the green movement. The financial implications on short and long terms are usually important to include in addition to other factors like health, comfort, and environmental stewardship. Communicators need to work with green professionals in order to design awareness campaigns that can lead to behavior change.

Situation in Jordan

Jordan is one of the non-oil-producing countries and is striving to achieve ambitious energy efficiency and renewable energy targets to overcome its energy challenges. In addition, it is one of the world’s most water-scarce countries. Green buildings are one of the key enablers for green jobs, energy savings and clean tech innovation. Today, Jordan is the home for 19 LEED registered buildings of which 7 are already LEED Certified Buildings (4 Gold, 1 Platinum and 2 Sliver). The sector is attracting many professionals to get certified and penetrate local and regional markets as LEED professionals. To date, 164 LEED Green Associates and 53 LEED APs exist along with a Jordanian USGBC Faculty member; many of which are working on projects in the region.

Communicators need to work with green professionals to facilitate behavioral change.

The government as well as private sector and NGOs have strong appetite to enable this sector through advocating for greener building codes and effective enforcement of codes and regulations as well as building capacity and raising awareness among various target groups. Donors and international agencies are supporting these efforts especially within the energy sector support programmes through technical assistance and pilot projects. While cities like Amman embarked into green buildings as part of their sustainability strategies and adopted some incentive schemes to promote green building practices; the country still needs to move towards greening other cities and anchoring such direction within various municipalities.

About Ruba Al-Zu'bi

Ruba Al-Zu'bi is leading the scientific research and innovation portfolio at Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation. Prior to joining Shoman Foundation, Ruba served as the first Policy Director at the Ministry of Environment and as the Chief Executive Officer of EDAMA Association for Energy, Water and Environment - the first Jordanian business association in the green technology sector. She also led the Clean Technology Sector Development component at USAID Jordan Competitiveness Program that aimed at enhancing private sector’s competitiveness, creating jobs and increasing exports in the clean energy, solid waste and water management clusters. Al-Zu'bi is active in the NGOs field locally and internationally. She is a founding member of the Jordan Green Building Council and a Plus Social Good Connector with the United Nations Foundation. She was Jordan's Eisenhower Fellow for 2012 and continues to advocate for green innovation and entrepreneurship throughout her journey. Ruba is a staunch advocate for mainstreaming environment into all development sectors, a strong communicator and change agent, and an engineer who is passionate about linking science to development.
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