Greener built environments could help achieve more than 50% of net zero targets

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By driving sustainability innovation in the Middle East’s construction sector and the built environment as a whole, countries can ultimately meet more than 50% of the net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions targets currently in place in the region. It is possible that it can be achieved. This is according to a study by strategy consulting firm Strategy& and engineering group Dar.

Huge amounts of money are being poured into construction across the Middle East. Approximately $2 trillion is expected to be spent on construction projects by 2035. These are not just new buildings; sometimes, as in the case of various megaprojects in Saudi Arabia, there are even entirely new cities and regions.

As the built environment continues to expand at an accelerating rate, accounting for 39% of CO2 emissions and 40% of global material use, Middle East governments and the private sector have an opportunity to move the construction industry to net zero.

Source: Strategy& Analysis, Dar Al-Handasah Consultants (Shair and Partners)

The Strategy& and Dar report notes that the region now has an opportunity to embrace a future of net-zero innovation and pioneer sustainable technologies and practices for the built environment.

Developing the built environment to achieve net-zero emissions will require more than just the use of more sustainable materials, greener construction processes, and improved energy efficiency.

More than 50% of the region’s net zero targets could be achieved by cleaning up this sector, but true net zero also requires further holistic sustainability beyond the built environment. It will be required. It must include a successful transition to decentralized renewable energy, low-carbon transport models, and offset plans that account for residual emissions.

Source: Strategy& Analysis, Dar Al-Handasah Consultants (Shair and Partners)

This report highlights 50 technologies that could be part of a profound paradigm shift in creating a more sustainable built environment. Some of them are more advanced in development than others, and some are expected to have a greater impact than others.

Some of the most achievable and impactful things that the industry should be working on now include electronic smart glass, waste-to-energy solutions, charging infrastructure that provides sustainable power, and smart AI-enabled buildings. There is innovation.

Some solutions are surprisingly simple. For example, the idea is to avoid so-called “urban canyons”, in other words narrow streets with dense construction on both sides, which cause heat to be trapped at street level. This fundamental rethinking of how cities are built could enable significant increases in natural wind. This is a godsend for the incredibly hot environment of the Middle East, which will only get hotter as climate change worsens.

References: 8 Success Factors to Enhance Mega Program Delivery.

Source: Desktop Research, Strategy & Analysis, Dar Al-Handasah Consultants (Shair and Partners)

A previous report found that half of the work being done on megaprojects in the Middle East could be decarbonized relatively painlessly by reducing emissions at the design stage. Because these projects involve enormous amounts of materials, energy, and planning, there are also many opportunities to significantly reduce emissions.

“Nowhere else in the world are so many buildings being constructed. There is no other opportunity like this,” said Marwan Bejjani, Partner at Strategy&.

“We need to seize this opportunity quickly to ensure that existing plans are consistently aligned with a sustainability-focused approach. The turnaround for the Middle East will not only be measured in dollars, but also in lifestyles. It will also be calculated in terms of quality and benefits to the planet.”

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