SGI: Strategy for a sustainable lifestyle

SGI: Strategy for a sustainable lifestyle

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We, in the real estate sector, face a critical challenge. The Kingdom’s need for more homes is well known, and it is being met by both large-scale investment as well as legislative reform and more homes are being built than ever before. However, while this momentum should be welcomed, it raises an important question: How do we build houses at the scale and pace required to meet the significant demand, while ensuring that our enormous new developments are designed and constructed responsibly and sustainably where people can foster a sustainable and vibrant lifestyle? 
With the Saudi Green Initiative Forum taking place, this question becomes more salient. 
The event represents a vital opportunity for businesses and policymakers to agree on long-term solutions to one of our greatest global concerns — our changing climate. The forum’s concerns, such as clean energy, fossil fuel offsetting, environmental protections through a series of decades-long commitments, are our concerns too. Over the coming years, the housing sector will be compelled to address them all. 
The scale of the Kingdom’s residential development program ensures that it will be central to any solution to the climate challenge. As a national giga-project, ROSHN is a key participant in the housing sector, as we are building substantial communities in nine cities across four provinces, including in the Kingdom’s capital city, Riyadh. Our first site is SEDRA, which includes over 30,000 residential units along with all their necessary infrastructure and services, and this is just the start. Our size and position in the market allows us to drive innovations that will help the sector meet the Kingdom’s housing demand while also meeting ambitious goals for global environmental sustainability.
The SEDRA community taking shape in northern Riyadh is a showcase for our approach, which is based on ROSHN’s six pillars: Residential quality, access to amenities, connection with community, environmental quality, mobility, and social infrastructure. We believe that what we have created is a development where people will want not only to live in, but also spend time in. 
These issues are central to reducing our carbon footprint. Existing urban planning practices adopt a “zonal” system whereby different parts of daily life services are geographically segmented. Our approach to integrated urban planning dispenses with the rigid zoning and works to combine different aspects of life within one area, hence stimulating pedestrian traffic and increasing access to these services while reducing dependency on motor vehicle transportation and their associated emissions.

As the Saudi Green Initiative sets out long-term plans for sustainability, ROSHN is eager to help drive forward environmentally conscious practices for the whole sector and develop a shared understanding of the circular carbon economy.

David Grover

One feature in our SEDRA community in Riyadh is that all houses are within a short walk from a park. Each neighborhood also has a pedestrian spine that ensures walkable access to everyday amenities. The community will have access to five modes of transport, removing the primacy of cars and roads, and enabling the proliferation of shared and private modes of micro mobility, such as bicycles, e-bikes and electric scooters. Across all ROSHN’s projects, we are planting more than 1 million trees and 63 million shrubs which will help offset carbon emissions, keep temperatures cooler, and create a more pleasant living environment. 
Looking ahead, our industry should be taking further steps to align itself with the Kingdom’s sustainability agenda. These efforts should include the adoption of concepts such as carbon accounting, comprehensive sustainability frameworks, where sustainability can be reliably measured, assessed, and improved upon, and life cycle assessment programs that allow us to make informed decisions about products’ overall environmental impact. These will be achieved through technologies and design strategies such as net zero energy homes, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, low-carbon concrete, modular and prefabricated construction methods, recycled building materials, and recycling greywater for suitable domestic applications. 
We in ROSHN are implementing some of these innovations already, and we look forward to adding to them. By prioritizing change internally, we hope to help the entire industry move towards a more sustainable footing. We are also raising the expectations of customers who, after all, are the people we answer to. 
As the Saudi Green Initiative sets out long-term plans for sustainability, ROSHN is eager to help drive forward environmentally conscious practices for the whole sector and develop a shared understanding of the circular carbon economy.

• David Grover is group CEO at ROSHN.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point-of-view