By Querubin J. Mi?as
JEDDAH – The Jeddah City skyline is changing fast amid monumental economic and technological growth in Saudi Arabia, giving rise to lots of opportunities as well as challenges.
As the number of population living in the already bursting city multiplies, energy and water consumption all the more goes up, the need for an efficient energy system becomes crucial.
To face the challenges arising from urbanization and demographic change, city planners, in collaboration with experts in the private sector are looking at ways to improve the efficiency of their infrastructures. With the right technology, the goal is to achieve sustainable city that could enhance the quality of life for the residents, while also becoming more environmentally friendly.
Drake & Scull Construction Saudi, the civil contracting arm of Drake & Scull International (DSI) PJSC in the Kingdom - a gold sponsor of the summit and one of the speakers – leveraged its engineering expertise to expedite high-rise and other key property developments within Jeddah.
Saleh Muradweij, Executive Director, Drake & Skull Construction, said the current focus on building construction is to commit to a prosperous and sustainable future through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings, in compliance with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) requirements for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings, homes and neighborhoods.
He told the Saudi Gazette that in the long run, it is cheaper to maintain a green building as it is designed and built as an energy saver. Besides, LEED buildings enhanced employee productivity, utilize sustainable transportation systems and support other societal benefits, among other advantages.
One study shows that an investment of $4 per square foot in LEED building features adds about 50 cents per square foot to the annual rent. As a high-performance product, LEED buildings can generate a 7 to 12 percent increase in net operating income by reducing operating costs. Also, an initial investment of 2 percent in green design can benefit the owner tenfold in savings.
Muradweij cited the construction of Aramco’s SR2 billion project in Riyadh - the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center which was awarded to Drake & Scull Saudi Arabia. The center, which received Platinum LEED certification – the highest tier offered by US Green Building Council – is committed to energy and environmental exploration and analysis.
"Sooner or later new buildings and infrastructures" would be mandated to comply with international laws and regulations on sustainability, he added.
It was reported earlier by Saudi Gazette that the Saudi Building Council (SBC) is working closely with the LEED Council of the US, and other regional experts on drafting laws suited to Saudi Arabian terrain and environment.
SBC is promoting and facilitating the green building practice in the Kingdom, which includes raising public awareness, provide training & education, helping the construction industry transform to the green building requirements, encourage building materials manufactures and suppliers to produce and supply environmentally responsible products, and adapt, develop & operate local green building rating system that meet the local environmental requirements while considering the international experience.
Moreover, Muradweij said one of the challenges facing the city development is the high cost of the land. He urged that developers should be given incentives to expand horizontally and build residential houses in the suburbs.
At present, he said there is an oversupply of commercial buildings in Jeddah, while much have to be done yet in providing residential houses for the teeming population.