Demand may outstrip the supply of vital sustainable materials to meet green building regulations in the GCC, according to a new report.
There are enormous opportunities in the region for suppliers of energy saving and green products, including lighting, kitchen and bathroom fittings and natural stone fittings, says a report by Ventures Middle East.
"Green buildings witnessed a slow take off in the GCC," it says but governments have acted swiftly in the past three years to embrace sustainability through education and legislation. Developers have also recognized that buildings have to demonstrate sustainability to be marketable.
The "GCC Focus on Sustainability in Construction" report says: "The rise in green buildings has resulted in an increased demand for green building materials. It has also resulted in the creation of new and unconventional building materials, which are in line with new building specifications."
Green ratings systems have been introduced in all GCC countries: LEED, from the USA, and the UK's BREEAM are used by many developers and each country is adopting its own standards.
There were 1,236 LEED-rated projects in the GCC in 2013 and the UAE accounts to 67% of them. Qatar has 190 projects (16 %), Saudi Arabia has 158 projects (13%), and Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman have 51 LEED-rated projects between them accounting for around 4%.
"The UAE is considered a leader in green building practices," says the report. In addition to being one of the LEED pioneers, Abu Dhabi has introduced its own system Estidama, a green building integrated program, which assesses sustainability across the life of the building. "In some requirements, Estidama is more stringent than LEED and other standards," says the report.
While the new report establishes that most developers now recognize the commercial benefits of a sustainable building, it also points out that some contractors are "reluctant to procure technologies which are perceived to be more expensive and are unsure of any tangible benefit".