Dubai Chamber seminar highlights best practices for greening existing buildings

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  • More awareness and guidance is needed to support companies in retrofitting buildings and workplaces, industry experts say

Dubai Chamber Sustainability Network recently hosted an informative seminar at the Chamber’s premises where industry experts highlighted best practices and benefits for businesses and organisations that invest in converting their existing buildings into green buildings.

Participating in the seminar were Marcos Bish, Managing Director, Summertown Interiors; Fatima Al Hebshi, Sustainability Engineer, Ministry of Climate Change & Environment; Khaled Bushnaq, Vice Chairman, Emirates Green Building Council; Faisal Rashid, Director Demand Side Management; Supreme Council of Energy; and Raji Hattar, Chief Sustainability & Compliance Officer, Aramex.

During the seminar, participants shed light on several important aspects related to retrofitting buildings into green buildings, such as regulation governing such activities, case studies, return on investment and key challenges that should be addressed in order to encourage more organisations in Dubai to adopt green building practices.

Faisal Rashid, Director Demand Side Management, Supreme Council of Energy noted that the UAE has built an enabling environment for green buildings including required regulations, and the major players of the sector are engaged. Several successful projects have now been completed which serve as good examples for the business community, he said, highlighting the fact that the government has removed barriers preventing companies to invest in green buildings, and introduced regulation to support organisations in this area.

Ms. Fatima Al Hebshi, Sustainability Engineer, Ministry of Climate Change & Environment explained that the Green Infrastructure Program coordinates and works with many buildings to reach sustainability in terms of energy reduction, water usage reduction, and waste recycling.

Khaled Bushnaq, Vice Chairman, Emirates Green Building Council revealed that the Council is working on a benchmarking project which is a part of the Energy Efficiency Accelerator Program, and pointed out that Dubai is the only city in the MENA region which is committed to it and this benchmarking includes 100 buildings in Dubai including hotels, malls and schools.

All participants agreed that a lack of awareness on green building standards and requirements remains a key challenge facing the business community, which needs to be addressed in order to encourage more companies to retrofit buildings.

The participants outlined several steps and tips for companies that are keen to convert their existing buildings into green buildings, including certification programs such as LEED, existing codes for green buildings in Dubai, and exploring the environmental, social and financial benefits of adopting green building practices.

Case studies shared during the event demonstrated the fact that turnaround for return on investment for green building projects can actually be quite fast, highlighting Dubai Chamber, DEWA, Dubai Airports and Aramex as examples.

Dr. Belaid Rettab, Senior Director, Economic Research and Sustainable Business Development Sector, Dubai Chamber, stressed the importance of hosting seminars that provide clarity on sustainability issues that impact the business community and encourage more organisations to adopt best international practices.

Dr. Rettab noted that the recent seminar helped raise awareness about the process, requirements and challenges related to greening existing buildings in the UAE, adding that such efforts support Dubai’s vision of becoming one of the world’s most sustainable cities.

Established by the Chamber’s Centre for Responsible Business (CRB), the Dubai Chamber Sustainability Network serves as the focal point for the business community to share and exchange best practices in implementing CSR. The network provides an opportunity for local companies to network, learn, share experiences and constitute CSR leadership.

The Centre for Responsible Business was established by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 2004 to support and promote corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability. The Centre’s objective is to engage the Dubai business community in assuming greater responsibility for the emirate’s social and environmental needs. The CRB also promotes Dubai as the GCC’s gateway for global commerce by offering its business partners an environment of transparency and rule of law.

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