With much of the construction industry still reeling from the impact of the credit crisis, most building professionals are focused on little more than maintaining a healthy balance sheet. They certainly are not looking to increase the cost of their project developments. But it is against this backdrop that the region’s governments are trying to implement green buildings rating systems.

The case for green buildings in the Gulf is proven; with the right technology and design techniques huge savings can be made on the energy and water consumption of buildings and on air conditioning requirements. This is of particular benefit in the water-scarce desert environment, where temperatures regularly exceed 50 degrees Celsius in the summer months, and the long-term gains are both ecological and financial. The problem is these technologies are estimated to increase the cost of designing, building and maintaining a property by some 20 per cent. Few in the current economic climate would volunteer to take on this additional expenditure and enthusiasm for the sustainable building agenda is waning as the pressure to preserve margins increases.

But without the support of the construction sector green building ratings systems will become irrelevant. That is unless they are made mandatory. If governments are really serious about building for a better future the ratings systems need to be both stringent and compulsory.