السبت، 1 أكتوبر، 2011

Sustainable Design Challenges in the Middle East

Sustainable Design Challenges in the Middle East

The energy use and carbon emissions of an average person in the Middle East have almost doubled over the last 30 years. The predominance of poor performing buildings is largely to blame.
It has become common amongst advocates for sustainability in recent years to lay blame on industrialized nations for contributing most to carbon emissions and being the primary cause of climate change. Many environmentalists often note that the impacts of global warming and sea level rise will be felt most in the developing world, which was least responsible for climate change. Yet more recently, Asia's growing emissions -especially in China and India- has changed this simplistic formula and suggested that the developing world has a major role to play in mitigating climate change.

The Middle East's use of energy and water is growing fast.

In the Middle East, less noted trends - albeit equally alarming - are slowly developing. The energy use and carbon emissions of an average person in the Middle East have almost doubled over the last 30 years. The world's per capita average only marginally increased during the same period.
This growth in energy use in a region not known for being an industrial powerhouse is largely a result of inefficient use of energy in transportation and the built environment, with buildings playing a particularly negative role.

Poor performing buildings are to blame.

The predominance of poor performing buildings whose designs do not respond to the region's climate has led to a reliance on mechanical cooling and ventilation systems. Visitors to the region are often surprised that a typical office building in a region with hot and arid climate and a high solar intensity, is almost fully glazed and lacks any shading to protect from heat gain.
In addition, the inefficient use of water in buildings and landscaping in the region has led to an additional need for energy. With a substantial portion of the region's potable water being sourced from energy-intensive desalination, any less efficient use of water is in effect an unnecessary waste of valuable energy resources. Water and energy subsidies do not help in reducing these inefficiencies.
Over the last decade, the region's nations appear to have realized the need to embrace sustainable development in their built environment and are slowly adopting policies and regulations to develop greener buildings. Many have started examining their traditional architecture for environmentally responsive strategies and are experimenting with re-adapting them in contemporary designs.

A harsh climate, glazing, and energy subsidies pose challenges.

Yet, sustainable design faces great challenges in the Middle East. First amongst these challenges is the extreme nature of the region's environment. Since moderating indoor environments effectively in this challenging climate requires a substantial reduction in heat and solar gain and an optimization of cooling, sustainable design in this context often requires an investment in both passive and active cooling strategies to achieve acceptable comfort levels. This combination often creates designs that pose programmatic and cost challenges, and occasionally produce design forms that are unwelcome by developers and occupants. Integrating a mixed- mode ventilation and cooling, for example, has associated capital costs that might not be appropriate for every project. Image conscious developers are also often resistant to design forms that do not feature excessive glazing.
There are also economical challenges to sustainable design. Energy subsidies, which are common in the region act as a disincentive for energy efficiency. In addition, the construction industry is reluctant to adopt sustainability standards due to its concerns about supply chain changes, risk of introducing new technologies, and increased capital costs.
Challenges also exist within the design process. Lack of clarity amongst local designers regarding sustainable design approaches, coupled with a lack of region-specific knowledge, have prevented local designers from taking a leading role in the sustainable design process.
But while these challenges may appear great, efforts already taking place in the region, such as the increasing collaboration with foreign architects, and the recent interest in sustainable design amongst young professionals, indicate that the tide is turning – albeit slowly – towards more sustainable design and development.
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Article by Karim Elgendy. Karim is an architect and a sustainability consultant based in London. He is also the founder of Carboun, an advocacy initiative promoting sustainability in the Middle East.
Image of Masdar Headquarters courtesy of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture. More on Autodesk and Masdar available here.
http://sustainabilityworkshop.autodesk.com/blog/sustainable-design-challenges-middle-east

EMAD HANI ISMAEEL
                 Ph.D. in Technologies for the Exploitation
                 of the Cultural Heritage .
                 Senior Lecturer in the Dept. of ArchitectureE-mail:        emadhanee@yahoo.com

                 College of Engineering , University of Mosul 
                 Mosul - Iraq .

                  emadhanee@gmail.com
                  http://emadhani.blogspot.com/
Tel :           +964 (0)770 164 93 74
 

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