A record number of delegates and speakers addressed the 4th annual Saudi Green Building Forum (SGBF) in the Riyadh Four Seasons Hotel Kingdom ballroom on 17-19 November 2013. They heard how the number of completed and planned in Saudi Arabia has grown radically in the past four years.

“In 2009, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz opened the King Abdullah University for Science & Technology (KAUST) near Jeddah,” Saudi Green Building Forum Secretary General Faisal Alfadl told the conference. “This was a ground-breaking development and Saudi Arabia’s first green building project.”

The first SGBF was held in Riyadh in October 2010 and it was the setting for the launch of the King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz initiative for Green Buildings partnered by Minister of Municipality & Rural Affairs. This has set the scene for a rapid expansion in the number of Saudi Arabian projects securing and seeking green building accreditation.

“Dozens of projects have been launched with green building accreditation,” Alfadl said “Today, a total of 134 projects with a combined built-up area of 12m square metres have been developed under the US Green Building Council’s LEED rating methodology. Two are Platinum. That represents 15 per cent of the of the GCC total.” GCC green building projects now account for 4 per cent of the world total, Alfadl said.

The SGBF conference was once again held under the patronage of HRH Prince Mansour Bin Miteb al-Saud, Minister of Municipalities & Rural Affairs. It was supported as strategic partners by the Ministry of Water & Electricity, The King Saudi Foundation, the Electricity & Co-generation Regulatory Authority, the Saudi Standards & Meteorology & Quality Organisation (Saso), the Saudi Council of Engineers, the US Green Building Council, UN Habitat and Egyptian Green Building Council.

The ceremonial opening of the SGBF on the evening of 17 November was addressed by Alfadl. He highlighted the role of the conference in promoting sustainability in the built environment for generations.

A speech delivered on behalf of Abdul Rahman Al Zamil, president of the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce & Industry called for co-operation with the SGBF. Deputy minister for planning and development in the Ministry of Water & Electricity Muhammad Ahmad Baghdadi said the ministry is stepping up its efforts to cut electricity and water waste.

Majlis al-Shoura (Consultative Council) member Abdulaziz Otaishan said promoting green buildings was critical issue and that he would be seeking a debate about sustainability on the floor of the council. Saudi Standards, Metrology and Quality Organization (SASO) Governor HE Saad AlKasabi reported on the Saso’s role in the Saudi green building movement. A message of support was delivered on behalf of Abdul-Latif Bin Rashid al-Zayani, GCC secretary general. The opening session was attended by HRH Princess Fahda Bint Saud Bin Abdulaziz, founder of The King Saud Foundation

Executive president of the Royal Commission at Yanbu Alaa Nassif said that Yanbu industrial city aimed for 10 per cent energy savings by 2020; 7 per cent would come through energy efficiency and 3 per cent from renewables. Nassif said that the strategic goal was to cap Yanbu’s energy consumption, which now is about 1,400 MW, despite the expected doubling in the city’s population. Higher planning and architectural standards will support a long-term green economic plan to 2030.

Ahmed al-Essa, assistant vice president for licensing at the Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities (SCTA), said that the commission had launched a programme to promote green hotels on a national basis.

Andreas Hergenroether, representing Germany’s Deutsche Auslandhandelskammers (AHK), said that Germany had become one of the world’s most energy efficient nations by the application of new technologies and government action. The aim is to cut primary German energy demand by 20 per cent by 2020 and 50 per cent no later than 2050. The potential for radical reductions in energy used in airconditioning was outlined by Amer Ali, director of business and engineering at Carrier Middle East.

In a spotlight presentation, Whysal Numan, LEED in-charge officer for the Saudi Binladin Group, provided an update in progress on the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD), the world’s largest green building development with more than 1.6m square metres of gross site area. It comprises more than 40 individual buildings including the CMA Tower, which is still under construction but is already the tallest building in the Saudi capital. Numan said the entire project is subject to a comprehensive environmental plan which encompasses erosion issues and construction waste; water and energy efficiency and recycling. The project calls for the construction of an energy-efficient monorail system. A minimum of 10 per cent by value of the construction materials used in the project are extracted and manufactured within 500 miles of the project site.

Tariq Chaudhary, LEED AP at the College of Engineering of the Imam Mohammad Bin Saud Islamic University in Riyadh said that structural engineers are important players in the building sector and should play a positive role in sustainability

Abdulaziz Al-Abdullah, Managing Director of the Nowayrah Real Estate Development Company, called on the authorities to do more to make it easier and quicker for private investors to develop middle-income and affordable housing. He presented details of 12 family homes Nowayrah has built near Obhur creek north of Jeddah. Al-Abdullah said that the four-bedroom houses, designed to meet the needs of a modern Saudi Arabian family, were on the market for SR 1.675m ($447,000) apiece.

The SGBF conference’s second day started with the signing — in the presence of Saudi Arabian’s deputy minister for Water & Electricity Saleh Alawaji — of a memorandum of understanding between the SGBF and UN Human Settlements Programme (UN Habitat) by Alfadl and Mostafa Madbouly, executive director of UN Habitat. In a keynote speech, water and electricity deputy minister Muhammad Ahmad Baghdadi reaffirmed the ministry’s commitment to energy and water efficiency.

Aziz El Kafrawy, head of the technical specifications at Egypt’s ENPPI, outlined new approaches to developing sustainability in Egypt’s built environment.

“Before building design starts, we should set standards for thermal performance, energy consumption and building construction costs and define criteria for the electromechanical systems to be installed,” El Kafrawy said. “For existing buildings, energy measurement and monitory studies are vital.”

Faris Almushre, project director at Saudi Aramco’s Al-Midra tower said the project is the kingdom’s newest LEED Platinum-certified office building. It is delivering energy savings of 95 per cent and a 31 per cent reduction in potable water use. About 75 per cent of its waste is being diverted from landfills.

Saudi Aramco’s approach to designing mosques suitable for dry and semi-dry climates was outlined by Saudi Aramco senior energy engineer Ayman Yousef. Saudi Arabia has nearly 58,000 mosques; 38,000 of them in dry climates, he said.

“Green mosques contribute positively to controlling energy demand growth in Saudi Arabia,” Yousef said. “IDEC (Indirect/direct evaporative cooling) technologies have unique performance features which are suitable for green mosque designs.”

Yousef said that IDEC has the potential to deliver up to 60 per cent electrical energy savings and 50 per cent peak-demand shaving compared to conventional, direct expansion-based airconditioning.

“It enhances indoor air quality and pressurises buildings, thereby eliminating uncontrolled outdoor air ingress,” Yousef said. “It is a cost-effective alternative to replace — or combine with — conventional airconditioning.”

The conference was told that the sustainability of the built-environment depends upon the skills of everyone involved with the delivery of projects. “(But) many designers have found the idea of sustainable design too hard,” says Omar Hazma, assistant professor in the geotechnical engineering department at King Saud University. “Perhaps new models and tools will help the designer and employer to make better decision.”

Adib Dada, founder of theOtherDada said that 51 per cent of Saudi Arabia’s total energy consumption is due to residential airconditioning. “The non-industrial sector accounts for 39 per cent of the total energy consumed in Saudi Arabia,” Dada said. :”This was mainly due to indoor consumption such as in cooling, lighting and appliances.”

“The installation of high-efficiency airconditioning units will cut energy consumption by households by 38 per cent,” Dada added. “The installation of better walls and roofs will reduce household energy consumption by 50 per cent. Theoretically, cumulative energy efficiency of 8 per cent is possible if energy saving strategies are introduced in households.”

Maria Cardenas, chair of the department of architecture at Riyadh’s Dar Al Uloom University, said that sustainable building design and engineering is growing as a discipline in Saudi Arabian universities.

The potential for green building products and services is potentially enormous, said Issa Asha, strategic studies leader at KAUST. “By 2020, the green building market in the kingdom is projected to be worth (up to) $25bn,” he said.

Ali Nazzal, a council member of green building chapter at the Saudi Council of Engineers, said there is growing interest in sustainability among Saudi Arabian project professionals. “The chapter was inspired by King Abdullah initiative for green buildings,” he said. “Today, we have more than 700 active members and our goal is to train more than 1,000 engineers.”

The SGBF conference closed with an open discussion on concluding comments for official recommendation with delegates led by Afaldl. 


Winners of the Saudi Green Building Forum 2013 leadership awards

The annual Saudi Green Building Forum leadership awards recognise individuals and organisations that have made a meaningful contribution to the development of Saudi Arabia’s green building movement.

Lifetime Achievement Award

HRH Prince Dr Mansour Bin Miteb Bin Abdulaziz, Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs

Leadership in Green Mosques

HE Shaikh Salih Bin AbdulAziz M Al al-Shaykh, Minister of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Daawa & Guidance

Leadership in Green Tourism

HRH Prince Sultan Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz, President, Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquity

Leadership in Green Studies

HRH Princess Fahda Bint Saud Bin Abdulaziz, founder, the King Saud Foundation

Leadership in Greening Egypt

HE Ibrahim Mahlab, Minister of Housing, Utilities and Urban Development, Republic of Egypt

Leadership in Green Habitat

Joan Clos, executive director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme

Leadership in Green Standards

HE Saad AlKasabi, Governor, Saudi Standards, Metrology and Quality Organisation

Leadership in Green Advocacy

Mohammad I. Alkhurayif, assistant deputy mayor of Riyadh, Ministry of Municipal & Rural Affairs