Embracing sustainability - GulfToday

Embracing sustainability


Photo used for illustrative purpose.

Staff Reporter, Gulf Today

More than 120 permanent buildings across Expo 2020 Dubai have been certified by the US Green Building Council in a major sustainability milestone, not only for the mega-event itself, but for its legacy project District 2020, the human-centric sustainable smart city that will repurpose 80 per cent of the Expo site.

Seven buildings across the 4.38 sqkm location, including the UAE Pavilion, Terra — The Sustainability Pavilion and Enoc’s ‘Service Station of the Future’, have been certified ‘Platinum’, the highest possible rating under Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) — the most widely used green building rating system globally, and a mark of excellence for highly-efficient, cost-saving sustainable architecture.

Of the 121 LEED-certified buildings, 103 are also LEED Gold, nine are LEED Silver and two are ‘Certified’.

The LEED certification system certifies buildings that typically reduce energy and water consumption over their lifetimes; have lower operational costs and carbon footprints; are constructed from environmentally-sensitive materials; have fewer impacts during construction; have better indoor air quality; and are better connected to the community, contributing to a more sustainable urban environment.

Ahmed Al Khatib, Chief Development and Delivery Officer, Expo 2020 Dubai, commented, “Moulding the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the places we live, sustainability at Expo represents our commitment to making a tangible, positive impact at a local, regional and global level throughout our 182-day run and beyond - honouring the visionary leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, to position the UAE as a sustainable development pioneer and a green economy hub.

“A result of the hard work and dedication of our sustainability and site-delivery teams, our LEED certifications are emblematic of our efforts not only to host one of the most sustainable World Expos in history but to ensure our physical legacy, District 2020, serves as a model for the sustainable smart cities of the future.” After Expo ends on 31st March 2022, its LEED-certified buildings will live on within District 2020, the sustainable human-centric smart city that will repurpose 80 per cent of the mega-event’s permanent built environment.

Gopalakrishnan Padmanabhan, Managing Director, Southeast Asia and the Middle East, Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), said, “Achieving LEED certification is more than just implementing sustainable practices. It represents a commitment to making the world a better place and influencing others to do better. Given the extraordinary importance of climate protection in the Middle East and the central role buildings play in that effort, Expo 2020 Dubai is setting the intention for the entire region, and carving a path toward the sustainable future its citizens deserve.

I am honored that they have chosen LEED certification to commit to this worthy goal.” The LEED certifications build on the eight CEEQUAL ‘Excellent’ certificates, awarded to Expo earlier this year for numerous infrastructure projects, including Al Wasl Plaza and the steel and trellis work of the dome that encircles it, creating the largest 360-degree projection surface in the world. CEEQUAL - the internationally recognised sustainability assessment, rating and certification scheme for best practice in infrastructure projects - assesses a range of sustainability criteria, including land use, ecology, transport, resilience and pollution.

News of the LEED certificates comes as Expo 2020 Dubai wraps up Urban and Rural Development Week, which united leaders, experts and citizens between 31st October and 6th November, to explore how we must transform the way we move, build, consume and live in the habitats of the future.

Urban and Rural Development Week is the third of 10 Theme Weeks taking place throughout Expo as part of the Programme for People and Planet, in an exchange of inspiring new perspectives that tackle the greatest challenges and opportunities of our time, including climate, connectivity, the future of human health and more.

Sustainability is one of the key three themes, alongside mobility and opportunity, at Expo 2020 in Dubai. As 192 countries come together for the world fair they will collectively collaborate to battle climate change.

Global warming is no new topic on government agendas: Earlier this year, at the G7 summit in Cornwall, world leaders pledged to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Eco innovations at Dubai Expo 2020 aim to inspire a more sustainable future. The Indian Pavilion has presented sustainable textiles, which could help reduce the dramatic impact the fashion industry has on climate change.

Sustainable Architecture:  The Sustainability Pavilion is an architectural example of how a building can be net-zero for energy and water. It aims to educate visitors on how we can change our everyday choices to reduce our carbon footprint and environmental impact. This pavilion is surrounded by “energy trees” that harness the hot desert sun to generate power.

The Sustainable District of Expo is also home to the Netherlands Pavilion, which uses water from the air to populate food on its vertical farm. Niels Bouwman, director of the Dutch Pavilion, explained how its structure is helping the climate. “We harvest our own water from the air, produce our own foods and get our own energy from our solar panels. So it’s a bio-dome,” he said.

Every permanent structure on the Expo site is fitted with photovoltaic panels. This helps produce 5.5 megawatts of clean energy, which is enough to power almost 4000 homes for one year.

Carmen Bueno, deputy general commissioner of the Spanish Pavilion, describes the inside of the Spanish pavilion as a ‘hidden treasure’. In this space, visitors learn about climate change with the aid of visual installations. She told Euronews how the tree-shaped installations live up to the name of the forest of the future. “It’s obvious that it’s an artificial forest, but it is a very technological forest. The material we have surrounding us (in the forest) is made from cork. This is totally disposable and recyclable.

They are also covered with a substance that absorbs CO2,” she said.

Like the forest of the future, many innovations at Expo aim to further visitors’ knowledge of being eco-friendly.

Annika Belisle, Head of Communications at the German Pavilion, told Euronews that education transcends national barriers, and their pavilion reflects this. “There are so many people from different countries, and it’s amazing to see that all of these people can come together.

“We are using a smart system to guide them through the pavilion that goes beyond cultural and language barriers to facilitate this kind of interaction for everyone who’s coming and to know that’s what Expo is all about, to get people together and to exchange ideas no matter where you come from, no matter what language you speak.”

Meanwhile Al Bayader International, the UAE’s sustainable and innovative manufacturer and supplier of packaging and cleaning solutions, and TotalEnergies, a global multi-energy company, have today inaugurated the country’s first and largest solar rooftop within the food packaging sector at its state-of-the-art manufacturing plant in Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza).

Set on the rooftop of the plant, the solar system’s high-efficiency photovoltaic panels were installed by TotalEnergies in a 20-year partnership with Al Bayader International.

The 980 kWp solar rooftop plant spans an area of 4,000 square metres and will generate over 1.5 GWh of clean electricity annually.

The solar rooftop was inaugurated by Habiba Al Marashi, Co-Founder and Chairperson of Emirates Environmental Group (EEG), at a special ceremony attended by Nidal Haddad, Founder and CEO of Al Bayader International; Jamil Haddad, Chairman of Al Bayader International; Elias Kassis, President, TotalEnergies in the UAE and TotalEnergies Country Chair in the UAE, Matthieu Langeron, Vice-President TotalEnergies Distributed Generation, Hamady Sy, Managing Director TotalEnergies Renewables Distributed Generation MEA, Abdulla Bin Damithan, CEO & Managing Director DP World UAE & Jafza, and representatives of the companies.

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