Trends in Sustainable Housing

There has been large-scale proliferation in construction of buildings worldwide due to population growth, economic development, urbanization and migration. According to UN Habitat, there has been a migration of the world's population from rural areas to cities or smaller urban areas. In fact, this trend is expected to continue and cities within the developed as well as developing nations are expected to grow in terms of population. As a result all forms of construction activities are expected to become more intense than ever in the years to come.

Usually the development of urban areas suffers from weak process of planning and control which lead to bad housing conditions, poor sanitation system, limited electricity and water supply, and often poverty.  These issues coupled with high population growth rate, environmental degradation, global warming and limited non-renewable resources highlights the importance of sustainable housing for the survival of humankind.

Sustainability in Buildings

Building construction and operation have extensive direct and indirect impacts on the environment. Buildings use resources such as energy, water and raw materials, generate a variety of wastes and emit potentially harmful gases. Basically the environmental impacts of buildings take place within six stages of building lifecycle:

  • Design process
  • Material or product manufacture
  • Distribution
  • Construction phase
  • Operation
  • Refurbishment or demolition

In terms of energy consumption, 60 percent of the world’s electricity is consumed by residential and commercial building. Space heating accounts for 60 percent of residential energy consumption and water heating for 18 percent in developed countries. Therefore radical changes must be made in design and performance of the buildings to reduce energy consumption and its corresponding environmental impact.

In many countries, sustainable construction methods are being adopted to lead the building industry towards sustainable development and provide better quality living environment. Basically sustainable building design and construction intend to diminish environmental impacts of building over its entire lifetime by paying attention to environmental, socio-economic and cultural issues.

Trends Around the World

The developed and developing world is facing sustainable housing and urbanization challenge in different ways.  Currently industrialized countries are the highest contributor in CO2 emissions. However it is expected that developing countries will take the lead in global warming in the near future. Developing countries are experiencing fast-paced urbanization and at the same time slums and informal settlements are also expanding rapidly which makes development of sustainable housing a difficult proposition.

Countries around the world are taking steps towards implementing sustainable design in the building sector. However most of them are still far from reaching the intended targets.  The major barriers in implementing energy efficiency in the building sector include:

  • Economic and financial issues;
  • Structural characteristics of political, economic and energy system; and
  • Lack of awareness and information

However different countries adopt different approaches for sustainable construction and set different priorities, depending on their economic condition. Nations with high economic growth are developing sustainable buildings making use of latest technologies and innovations. In case of developing countries, social equality and economic sustainability are foremost considerations. In fact, developing countries are moving slowly or even negative towards adopting sustainable housing strategies.

As far as Middle East is concerned, economic considerations dominate for oil and gas-rich GCC countries as they protect their oil and gas export reserves by investing in new ways to boost energy efficiency and lower energy consumption. However for less-affluent countries, such as Jordan, lack of indigenous energy resources and high energy costs are the primary reasons for implementation of sustainable design strategies in buildings.

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Energy Efficiency in MENA – A Tool to Reduce GHG Emissions

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is the largest oil-exporting region in the world. Around 85 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions come from energy production, electricity generation, industrial sector and domestic energy consumption. Qatar, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia figure among the world’s top-10 per capita carbon emitters. Without a change in energy policies and energy consumption behavior, MENA‘s energy-related GHG emissions will continue to grow. Presently, MENA countries are heavily dependent on fossil fuels to meet their energy requirement which is a major challenge in climate change mitigation efforts. However it also encourages local governments to craft policies and adapt stringent environmental regulations to reduce the GHG emissions.

Energy Efficiency Prospects

There is a great potential for MENA region to cut the projected GHG emissions growth by adopting energy-efficiency programs in commercial industrial and domestic sector. MENA governments need to create a policy environment that rewards energy-efficient choices and encourages innovation through both consumers and businesses. The Middle East electricity market is growing at an accelerating rate due to higher consumption rates in the private, commercial and industrial sectors. This results in the need for a successful implementation strategy that can bridge the gap between the current supply and increasing demand.

The MENA region has great ambitious plans and already adapted an efficient energy programs aiming to achieve real energy efficiency gains related to environment. An immediate gain of adapting energy efficiency policy is to be seen in elevating consumers’ energy awareness, improving energy products procurement and services, reducing pollutant and saving money.

MENA governments should put energy efficiency at the top of energy policy agenda with a committed goal to reduce GHG emissions through energy efficiency programs. For example, Obama’s administration has focused on the importance of energy efficiency investment programs as an engine of economic growth and environment conservation in the United States. According to President Obama, “energy efficiency is one of the fastest, easiest, and cheapest ways to make our economy stronger and cleaner.” 

Energy Efficiency Outlook

There is a wide array of measures which could help MENA countries in promoting and implementing policies to moderate increasing energy demand and reduce pollution in the generating, transmitting, and distributing energy from power plants.  Energy conservation may not yet be a way of life in the Middle East but the rapid changes being seen there are an indicator of what is to come. Formal energy efficiency programs and voluntary measures combined will help the region to maintain its economic strength in the region. Energy conservation programs in residential, commercial and industrial sectors can significantly reduce carbon emissions and augment energy supply in the MENA region.

Across the MENA region, there is a growing interest in renewable energy, such as solar, wind, geothermal and biomass, which could enable regional countries to adopt a green economy and cut down on fossil fuel consumption. In the transportation sector there are many energy-efficient adaptations to reduce air pollution and GHG emissions, like public transportation, carpooling, electric vehicles and alternative fuels. MENA countries can adapt new alternatives to fossil fuels such as fuel cells, bioethanol and biogas. 

The linkage between energy efficiency adaptations and GHG emission is crucial in the fight against global warming. Emerging technologies like Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) involves the capture of carbon dioxide from power plants and large industrial sources, and then injection into deep underground geological formations for long-term storage. CCS can not only reduce carbon emissions from power generation sector but also expand renewable energy capacity and increase energy efficiency.

Another attractive energy conservation method is Smart Grid which involves modernizing the system of transmitting electricity all the way from generation to end use. Unlike the tradition electricity meters, the smart meters provides consumers with situational awareness about how much electricity are consuming per unit of output. Smart grid offers an excellent opportunity to modernize power infrastructure, lay the foundation for energy management, provide new employment opportunities and ultimately reduce region’s dependence on fossil fuels.


The Middle East region has the highest per capita carbon footprint in the world which can be offset by mass deployment of energy-efficient systems. An improved energy efficiency plan for MENA region (in both supply and use) will help in mitigating the domestic and global environmental impact of energy by reducing both atmospheric particulate matter and GHG emissions.

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Green Buildings and the Middle East

The Middle East region faces a unique set of challenges in terms of sustainable buildings and cities. For example, water shortage is mitigated by costly desalination and we are faced with high water consumption which leads to a higher carbon footprint and ultimately impacts climate change. Middle Eastern countries are at the top of the list of largest per capita ecological footprints. Qatar has the highest per capita level of carbon dioxide emissions, at 44 metric tons per person annually. Kuwait is second with 30.3 tons, followed by the UAE with 22.6. Therefore, integrating energy efficiency is a critical need.

Benefits of Green Buildings for Middle East

The benefits of green buildings for the Middle East are not only environmental, but also economic and social. Long-term operating costs are lowered via reduced energy consumption, reduced emissions, improved water conservation and management, temperature moderation, and reduced waste. Avoiding scarce natural resources, like water, opting instead to recycle, can cut down building costs by an estimated 10 percent.

With a third of the world's energy being utilised in construction and building operation, the concept of green buildings is becoming more and more popular worldwide. General construction work uses excessive amounts of energy, water and raw materials and tends to generate large amounts of waste and potentially harmful atmospheric emissions. As a result, companies are facing demands to build environmentally friendly and eco-efficient buildings, while minimising their actual impact on the environment.

Green buildings do not require complex processes and costly mechanisms. Affordable green technologies include tankers to store and harvest rainwater to cut water consumption, intelligent lighting systems to cut electricity use, natural ventilation and a ground source heat pump that reduces heating and cooling costs. Energy efficiency is another cornerstone of green building. Careful window selection, building envelope air sealing, duct sealing, proper placement of air and vapour barriers, use of clean energy-powered heating/cooling systems all contribute towards an energy efficient building.

Use of renewable energy, such as solar, wind or biomass energy, to meet energy requirements can significantly reduce carbon footprints of such buildings. Other green trends that are currently being advocated include carbon neutral communities, public transport and no-car cities, self-sustaining urban planning, on-site water treatment plants, and cultural sensitivity incorporating traditional design elements.

Green Building Trends in Middle East

The Middle East region has made great progress in the field of green buildings in recent years. Sustainable building design is gaining popularity in the Middle East with designers and construction firms finding the most eco-friendly ways to get buildings made. Sustainability is now a top priority in the region and countries like Qatar, UAE and Lebanon have come up with their own green building rating system to incorporate socio-economic, environmental and cultural aspects in modern architecture. Qatar's Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS) is billed as the world's most comprehensive green building rating system while Abu Dhabi's Pearl Rating System (PRS) has carved a niche of its own in global green buildings sector.

United Arab Emirates and Qatar are spearheading the sustainability trend in the region, having the highest share of green buildings in the Middle East and North Africa. There are about 1,200 green buildings in MENA that have a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) accreditation. Of these buildings, 65 per cent (802) are located in the UAE. Qatar is ranked second on the list, with 173 green buildings, followed by Saudi Arabia (145), Lebanon (25) and Egypt (22).

The number of LEED-registered buildings has increased rapidly across the region, especially in GCC, in the past few years. Some of the notable examples of green buildings in the Middle East are Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, KAUST in Saudi Arabia and Msheireb Downtown Doha in Qatar. Masdar City promises to be a model for green cities all over the world. The King Abdullah University of Science in Saudi Arabia employs many forward-reaching green features while Msheireb Downtown Doha promises to be the world's largest sustainable community with 100 buildings using an average of a third less energy.

If Middle Eastern industries embrace 'green building' technologies instead of conventional ones, they could significantly help in tackling environment problems in addition to long-term financial returns. Although the MENA region still lags behind other markets in terms of overall sustainability, 29% of firms in this region have over 2 million square feet of green projects planned in the next 3 years, by far the highest of any region. Green building systems technologies can serve as catalysts for smartly shaping urbanization, ensuring energy security, combating climate change, and opening new diplomatic and economic opportunities. 

Introduction to Trigeneration

Trigeneration refers to the simultaneous generation of electricity and useful heating and cooling from the combustion of a biomass fuel or a solar heat collector. Conventional coal or nuclear-powered power stations convert only about 33% of their input heat to electricity. The remaining 67% emerges from the turbines as low-grade waste heat with no significant local uses so it is usually rejected to the environment.

What is Trigeneration

In a trigeneration system, the supply of high-temperature heat first drives a gas or steam turbine powered generator and the resulting low-temperature waste heat is then used for water or space heating. Such systems can attain higher overall efficiencies than cogeneration or traditional power plants, and provide significant financial and environmental benefits.

Trigeneration is one step ahead of cogeneration that is the residual heat available from a cogeneration system is further utilized to operate a vapor absorption refrigeration system to produce cooling; the resulting device thus facilitates combined heat power and cooling from a single fuel input. The heat produced by cogeneration can be delivered through various mediums, including warm water (e.g., for space heating and hot water systems), steam or hot air (e.g., for commercial and industrial uses). 

Advantages of Trigeneration

Trigeneration is an attractive option in situations where all three needs exist, such as in production processes with cooling requirements. Trigeneration has its greatest benefits when scaled to fit buildings or complexes of buildings where electricity, heating and cooling are perpetually needed. Such installations include but are not limited to: data centers, manufacturing facilities, universities, hospitals, military complexes and colleges. Localized trigeneration has addition benefits as described by distributed generation. Redundancy of power in mission critical applications, lower power usage costs and the ability to sell electrical power back to the local utility are a few of the major benefits.

Most industrial countries generate the majority of their electrical power needs in large centralized facilities with capacity for large electrical power output. These plants have excellent economies of scale, but usually transmit electricity long distances resulting in sizable losses, negatively affect the environment.

Large power plants can use cogeneration or trigeneration systems only when sufficient need exists in immediate geographic vicinity for an industrial complex, additional power plant or a city. An example of cogeneration with trigeneration applications in a major city is the New York City steam system. The city of Sydney has embarked upon an ambitious trigeneration plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 70 percent by producing 477 MW of local power using trigeneration systems.

One of the technologies that have the best performance for being integrated into a trigeneration system is the fuel cell. Systems working on fuel cell technology can transform the energy of a chemical reaction into electrical energy, heat and water. Its main practical applications range from bulk production of electricity and heat to its use in sectors such as aerospace, maritime or surface transport and portable devices.

Trigeneration Prospects in the Middle East

There is very good potential for deployment of trigeneration in the Middle East. The constant year-round heat coupled with expensive glass exteriors for hotel, airports, offices, apartments etc result in very high indoor temperatures. The combination of distributed generation of power and utilization of waste heat can provide a sustainable solution to meet the high demand for refrigeration in the region. District cooling has the potential to provide a viable solution to meet air conditioning requirements in commercial buildings, hotels, apartment blocks, shopping malls etc.

Trigeneration systems can play a vital role in reducing energy requirements in Middle East nations. Apart from providing cooling needs, such systems can reduce the need for new power plants, slash fossil fuel requirements and substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the region.   

Energy Sector in Arab Countries

The Arab energy sector has played and will continue to play an important role in the regional as well as global economy. In addition to satisfying energy needs for economic and social development, it is the source of oil and gas export revenues contributing to economic development. The Arab oil and gas sector represents the largest economic sector in the region. Increase of oil revenues were the main drivers for economic development in most of the Arab oil producing countries.

Due to the remarkable recent increases of the oil prices and the escalated levels of oil production in some Arab countries, the Arab oil revenues have witnessed a parallel unprecedented growth. The Arab economies, as well, are heavily dependent on oil and gas to meet their domestic energy demand. Oil contributes about 53.6 % of the total demand and the share of gas represents about 43.9 %, while other resources such as hydro power, coal, and renewable resources represent only about 2 %

The energy sector in the Arab word has been struggling in recent years to find ways to tackle existing and anticipated shortfalls in resources and investments. In many cases, the efficiency of energy production and consumption patterns in the region requires improvement. Though the per capita energy consumption in the GCC sub-region are among the world’s top list, more than 40 percent of the Arab population in rural and urban poor areas do not have adequate access to energy services. It is also noted that almost one-fifth of the Arab population relies on non-commercial fuels for different energy uses.

Energy Consumption in Arab Countries in 2003

  • The average primary energy consumption reached 1196 kgoe per capita, compared to the world average of 1523 kgoe. Wide disparities exist in the levels of energy consumption within and between Arab countries.
  • The average electricity consumption reached 1445 kwh per capita regionally, compared to the world average of 2271 kwh per capita, and
  • The average primary energy intensity in the region is 0.51 kgoe per US$ compared to a world average of 0.27 kgoe, reflecting the low economic returns on energy consumption in the region

Electricity Consumption in Arab Countries in 2005

  • Installed capacity in 2005 was 124 GW compared with 13 GW in 1975.
  • Electricity consumption in 2005 was 480,000 GWh (480 TWh) compared  with 22,000 GWh (22 TWh) in 1975.
  • Half of the installed capacity exists in Arab Gulf countries.
  • Population in 2005 was 313 million compared to 140 million in 1975.
  • Annual per capita consumption increased from 160 KWh in 1975 to 1530  kWh in 2005.

Relying heavily on fossil fuels, it is evident that the current trends in the Arab energy sector are unsustainable. The move towards achieving the objectives of energy for sustainable development requires policies and measures to address such problems, while maintaining the effective contribution of the sector to the region’s prosperity.

Since 1992, Arab countries have been moving towards the sustainability of the energy sector to achieve the goals and targets relevant to the key energy issues. Several Arab declarations have been issued in recent years emphasizing concerns and commitment of regional powers to achieve sustainable developmentSome progress has bee achieved; however, more steps are required to achieve the desired objectives.

Features of a Green Building

A green building incorporates environmental considerations into every stage of the building construction and focuses on the design, construction, operation and maintenance phases. The key process difference between green and conventional buildings is the concept of integration, whereby a multi-disciplinary team of building professionals work together from the pre-design phase through post-occupancy to optimize the building for environmental sustainability, performance, and cost saving.

Green buildings offer widespread benefits to a number of building industry stakeholders, including building occupants and society as a whole. Green buildings typically incorporate superior air quality, abundant natural light, access to views and noise control which benefits building occupants, making these building better places to work or live. The major considerations taken into account are the lot design and development efficiency, energy and water efficiency, resource efficiency, indoor environmental quality and the building’s overall impact on the environment.

An integral characteristic of a green building is its stress on protecting existing ecologies, and improving ecologies that may have been damaged in the past. Green buildings are usually constructed on environmentally sensitive lands or previously developed property, with measures taken to restore plant life. Green buildings also utilize fewer materials, through efficient design and elimination of unnecessary finish materials. In addition, green building operations promote material as well as water recycling in their operation.

Energy efficiency is one of the most important factors in almost all green building programs. Careful window selection, building envelope air sealing, duct sealing, proper placement of air and vapour barriers, use of clean energy-powered heating/cooling systems contribute towards an energy efficient building. Use of renewable energy, such as solar, wind or biomass energy, to meet energy requirements can significantly reduce carbon footprints of such buildings.

Green homes lay stress on water conservation by implementing more efficient water delivery and recycling system. Minimization of water use is another characteristic feature of a green building which helps in reducing the detrimental effects of water use and its effects on local ecologies, such as aquatic life.

An increase in respiratory ailments and allergies and the use of chemicals that can give off gas from materials have greatly contributed to sensitive awareness of the air we breathe inside our homes. The green building also focuses on reducing respiratory ailments and allergies by improving the quality of in-house air by controlling the contamination source, diluting the source, and capturing the source through filtration.

Green Building Rating Systems

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), BREEAM (BRE Environmental Assessment Method) and Green Globes are popular green building assessment and rating systems used around the world. Sustainability is now a top priority in MENA region and countries like Qatar, UAE and Lebanon have come up with their own green building rating system to incorporate socio-economic, environmental and cultural aspects in modern architecture. Qatar's Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS) is billed as the world's most comprehensive green building rating system while Abu Dhabi's Pearl Rating System (PRS) has carved a niche of its own in global green buildings sector.

Green Buildings in the Middle East

The Middle East region has been witnessing rapid developments in the green buildings industry, primarily driven by concerns related to environmental degradation, fossil fuel depletion and energy inefficiency. Buildings in the Middle East consume more energy than those in other parts of the world mainly on account of extremely hot weather and rampant use of glass exteriors. Countries in the region are increasingly promoting energy efficiency as a means to ensure energy security which has become a boon for the green buildings industry. The number of LEED-registered buildings has increased rapidly across the region, especially in GCC, in the past few years. Some of the notable examples of green buildings in the Middle East are Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, KAUST in Saudi Arabia and Msheireb Downtown Doha in Qatar.


To sum up, green buildings not only contribute towards a sustainable construction and environment but it also brings lots of benefits and advantages to building owners and users. Lower development costs, lower operating costs, increased comforts, healthier indoor environment quality, and enhanced durability and less maintenance costs are hallmarks of a typical green building.

Trends in Environmental Sustainability

Environmental sustainability and carbon footprint occupies an increasingly important position on the corporate agenda around the world. The major ingredients of environmental sustainability are elimination of waste and emissions, maximizing energy efficiency and productivity and minimizing practices that may adversely affect utilization of natural resources by coming generations. More and more companies are realizing the importance of environmental initiatives in business development and brand promotion.

Decrease in energy and raw material usage combined with reduced emissions and waste generation can tackle a host environmental challenges facing the world. Leading IT companies, like Microsoft, Adobe, Apple and Google, are investing in renewable sources of energy that can generate power directly on-site. Clean manufacturing practices and energy-efficient design of equipment are also hallmarks of environmental sustainability. Water conservation is one of the most important environmental issues of this century and growing number of companies are using it to educate and change consumer behavior. 

Let us take a close look at some of the major developments in the arena of environmental sustainability.

Eco-Friendly Packaging

Packaging is an important concern for consumers, particularly those who are interested in converting to eco-friendly buying behaviors. Packaging plays a great role in environmental sustainability by protecting products, preventing waste and enabling efficient business conduct. Reduction in the amount of packaging and use of eco-friendly packaging material provide an attractive opportunity to promote environmental sustainability.

Sustainable packaging is a relatively new addition to the environmental considerations for CSR. Companies using environment-friendly packaging materials are reducing their carbon footprint, using more recycled materials and minimizing waste generation. Companies that highlight their environmental initiatives to consumers can increase sales as well as boost product reputation. 

For example, Cisco outsources all of its manufacturing and has over 600 suppliers. To avoid any problems, Cisco’s packaging team undertakes a painstaking process to create more effective and environmentally friendly packaging. In 2012, the company eliminated 757,000 pounds of paper and plastic waste for one product line alone. For its total shipments during 2012, Cisco reduced its use of cardboard, plastic and paper by as much as 466 metric tons.

Clean Energy

Deployment of renewable energy systems can make a big impact on CSR activities of companies as clean energy is one of the best methods to mitigate climate changes. Decentralized power generation using renewable resources is rapidly gaining popularity among world’s top companies. Most of the world's largest companies, like Microsoft, Apple and Google, are adopting renewable energy as it makes good business sense to lower emissions, diversify energy supply, mitigate fuel cost and above all portray a green image. Many companies in the Western world are resorting to use of biogas, biodiesel, bioethanol and hydrogen to power vehicle fleets.

World's leading IT companies are rushing to develop renewable energy projects to power their giant data centres, Google has entered a 10-year deal with utility company Grand River Dam Authority to supply 48 MW of wind power to its Oklahoma data center. Apple’s data center in Maiden (North Carolina), which draws staggering 20MW power, will run entirely on solar energy and biogas. Likewise, to meet tremendous energy needs, Adobe has invested in alternative energy sources that can generate power directly on-site, such as wind turbines and fuel cells at its California facilities. Microsoft has also unveiled plans to utilize biogas generated from wastewater treatment facilities to power its research center at Wyoming.

Environmental Reporting

Environmental reporting, voluntary as well as mandatory, is also getting prominence in the context of corporate social responsibility. Environmental information like greenhouse gas emissions, waste generation, energy consumption, use of transport can improve the transparency of industrial activities, thereby, providing a powerful tool to fight environmental degradation. Business can save significant costs in areas like use of raw materials and supplies, reduction in waste, water, energy use, transport, travel and packaging.

There are several countries in which the private sector is required to report greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption to the government. Australia’s National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act requires corporations to report information on their greenhouse gas emissions, energy production and energy consumption to the Greenhouse and Energy Data Officer. United Kingdom’s Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme forces all organizations and companies having electricity demand greater than 6,000 MWh per year to participate in the mandatory scheme, which applies to more than 5,000 entities until now. The Perform, Achieve and Trade scheme in India has established consumption targets for energy-intensive industries as well as the cap-and-trade structure.


Pollution prevention, energy efficiency, eco-friendly design, and industrial ecology are emerging as top priorities for companies across all industrial sectors. Reduction in the amount of packaging and use of eco-friendly packaging material provide an attractive opportunity to promote environmental sustainability. Water, waste, packaging, energy and transport are being integrated into mainstream operations to facilitate sustainability. Use of clean energy is also an attractive proposition to reduce carbon footprint and project a 'green' image of a particular company.

Earth Hour – Making of a Movement

Earth Hour is a worldwide movement for the planet organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). Earth Hour engages a massive mainstream community on a broad range of environmental issues. The event is held worldwide and held towards the end of March annually, encouraging individuals, communities, households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights for one hour as a symbol for their commitment to the planet

Making of a Movement

Earth Hour started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia and was conceived by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). On the occasion, 2.2 million individuals and more than 2,000 businesses turned their lights off for one hour to take a stand against climate change. Since then it has grown to engage more than thousands of cities and towns worldwide

In 2008, the Earth Hour became a global sustainability movement with more than 50 million people participating across 35 countries. In March 2009, over 4,000 cities in 88 countries officially switched off their lights to pledge their support for the planet, making ‘Earth Hour 2009’ the world’s largest global climate change initiative.

‘Earth Hour 2010’ was practised in a record 128 countries and territories and more than 6,000 cities joined the global display of climate action with over 1 billion people participating. Iconic buildings and landmarks from Asia Pacific to Europe and Africa to the Americas switched off their lights.

In 2011, more than 5,200 cities and towns in 135 countries worldwide switched off their lights for ‘Earth Hour’ alone, sending a powerful message for action on climate change. It also ushered in a new era with members going ‘Beyond the Hour’ to commit to lasting action for the planet.

This year, the taglne for the global campaign is 'Change Climate Change' returning to the movement's original focus to initiate citizen action on global warming. More than 170 countries have confirmed their participation with more than 100 landmarks and 40 UNESCO world heritage sites to be switched off.

Aims and Objectives

Earth Hour is aimed at asking individual, households and businesses to turn off their nonessential lights and other electrical appliances for one hour to raise awareness towards the need to take action on energy conservation and climate change.

The gigantic and overwhelming participation in Earth Hour showed collective display of our commitment to protect our planet. During Earth Hour, people across the world from all walks of life turned off their lights and came together in celebration and contemplation of one thing we all have in common – our planet.

Time for Action

The recent Earth Hour celebrated has gone beyond the hour, so after the lights went back ‘on’ participants were thinking about what else one could do to make a difference. We all now believe that ‘Together our actions add up’.

The awareness created has found enough reasons to join this annual campaign and making energy conservation as a ‘habit’ rather than practising it as an ‘annual event.’ We need to understand that we have a major responsibility of conserving our planet’s resources, since they are fragile, finite and each of us can make a difference if we choose to do so.

As far as Middle East is concerned, energy consumption is rising exponentially due to rapid industrialization and high population growth rate. Infact, the level of primary energy consumption in the Middle East is one of the highest worldwide.  However, the efficiency of energy production and consumption patterns in the region requires significant improvement. 

So, let us make a change at individual level which, though it sounds small but cumulatively will add to significant levels in energy conservation by:

  • Turning our computer off when we finish our work and turning the monitor off during our breaks.
  • Turning off any unnecessary and additional lighting at our place of work and at home.
  • Using energy-efficient lights (LED, CFL, etc.).
  • Unplugging the electrical and electronic appliances when not in use.
  • Judiciously using heating and cooling system.

The message is ‘Let us go beyond an hour and do more what we can to reduce the energy consumption and its impact on the environment.’ Plan and participate in the event for a better tomorrow.