JEDDAH: IBRAHIM NAFEE
Published — Thursday 10 January 2013
Last update 10 January 2013 3:26 am
A number of architectural experts have stressed on the importance of implementing smart building technologies in residential and commercial projects in the country that can save 30 percent of power consumption and 60 percent of constructional costs. Implementation of these technologies is notably growing in other Gulf countries, where smart buildings exceed 40 percent of all residential projects.
In the Kingdom, the portion of smart buildings does not exceed 5 percent of total residential projects, Abdullah Bakr Radwan, member of the national committee at the Council of Saudi Chambers, said.
“Expanding the utilization of smart building technologies is faced with difficulties, like the fact that Saudis look for wide spaces, which are not available in smart buildings,” he said. “Another essential obstruction for increasing residential units in the Kingdom in general is the hike in land prices.”
Radwan said the Saudi government had paved the way for smart building projects by endorsing modern building codes that are based on scientific evidence and protect from hazards, adding the idea should be promoted through consultancy agencies, who should propose it to contractors.
Real estate developers say smart buildings do not seem to be popular in Saudi Arabia compared to other Gulf countries, but this will change in the next few years after endorsing the new code.
“The volume of investment in smart buildings can exceed SR 140 billion within the next eight years,” said real estate developer Abdullah Al-Sulaimani. “Air-conditioning, heating and lightening technologies implemented in smart buildings save power and reduce carbon dioxide emissions and lower water consumption by 50 percent.” Construction wastes with implementation of smart building methods are also reduced by 90 percent. “Converting an existing building into a smart building would cost as much as 50 to 100 percent of the original construction costs, depending on the amendments and additions,” he said, adding that it is difficult to determine the average costs for the construction of smart buildings that differ in classification and levels.
It is a domain where options and possibilities that can be costly depend on the technological services desired, he added.