‘Green buildings’ concept takes root in Kingdom



RIYADH: MD RASOOLDEEN | ARAB NEWS STAFF

Published — Friday 6 December 2013

Last update 5 December 2013 11:33 pm

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Environment-friendly Saudi Arabia has a special respect for green buildings, observed an advocate of the green building movement in the US.
Rick Fedrizzi, president and CEO of US Green Building Council and chair of the World Green Building Council, who was on a brief visit to Saudi Arabia told Arab News that the Kingdom is on the right track to implement green building projects throughout the Kingdom.
“I am happy Saudi Arabia is focusing more on greenhouses, green schools and universities,” he said, pointing out that the new facilities are environment-friendly and is beneficial to the people living in the neighborhood.
In the Kingdom, the maiden green building initiative was taken by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah in 2010. The King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST) in Jeddah was the first green building constructed in the Kingdom.
There are 140 such buildings throughout the Kingdom at present and 40 of them are in Riyadh. The existing green buildings cover an area of 12 million sq m, 10 percent of the green buildings in the GCC region and four percent in the world. The Kingdom’s school in Riyadh and the upcoming King Abdullah Financial City in Riyadh include some of the green buildings in the capital.
Fedrizzi was in the capital to take part in the distinguished sustainability lecture series convened by Carrier and OTIS.
Speaking about sustainability, Fedrizzi said: “It is an understating what resources do we need to protect so that we have the ability to sustain the life we all want not only to us but to our children and for our future generation.”
In early days, he recalled that authentic environmentalists lived a peaceful and healthy life.
“Our parents and grandparents did not waste anything. They grew their own food. They shared it with their neighbors and did not have cars and they mobilized themselves with the available mode of transport and they built homes and buildings that were sustainable by nature,” said Fedrizzi.
“Above all, they respected nature,” he added.
At present, he added: “We have taken so much for granted too long, now we are trying to get back to a world where our communities, cities and buildings mean more to us.”
It means laying the groundwork for a future that is more prosperous, more healthful, and more equitable than our present. It means that our habits — at a personal level as well as at a global level — don’t lead to an inevitable depletion of resources that would disrupt our quality of life.
Living sustainably means exactly what it says — that our lifestyles can be sustained and that we don’t prove to be our own worst enemies.
Green building isn’t about a laundry list of negative human behaviors that we shouldn’t do. It’s about all the innovative, exciting and life-affirming things we can and should do that lead to an economy, an environment and a social landscape in harmony with each other. It’s about solutions, and the businessman in me knew that this was the key to making real change.
Green building’s potential for truly transforming the way humans and our environment interact comes from one key concept: connectivity.
Green building is focused not on a collection of gadgets and gimmicks but on maximizing the way all of a building’s systems interact with each other.
Those systems include the human beings who occupy the buildings and the communities that the buildings occupy.
In the best buildings, better ventilation and natural daylight save energy while also nurturing the health and comfort of the people inside.
Buildings located in walkable neighborhoods reduce greenhouse gases and also connect people to their neighbors and create a strong sense of place.
Using less water also means less energy required for municipal water treatment. The use of local materials not only cuts back on transportation needs but also builds into the fabric of our homes, offices, schools and communities a direct connection to our local economies.

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