On the verge of a $100 billion construction boom and with an economy that relies almost solely on petrol and natural gas, Qatar could now stand to become a major leader in the green building movement.
Not only is it set to become the first top oil producer to host the UN Climate Change Conference, it is also garnering international acclaim for a number of high profile, sustainability-driven industry developments.
Doha Tower in the nation’s capital, which was recently named the Best Tall Building Worldwide, is a prime example of this movement. The building stands as a testament to contextual design and environmental responsibility, and was delivered a way that reflects the area’s cultural architectural heritage.
On a much larger scale, work is now underway on Qatar’s Msheireb Downtown Doha. With over 100 buildings to be completed in total, the urban planning scheme aims to be the world’s largest sustainable community, with targets to reduce carbon emission reduction by up to 110,000 tonnes per year compared to conventionally developed communities of its scale.
The entire project is expected to come in at a total cost of $5.5 billion and should be completed by 2016.
While these large-scale green efforts are commendable, they do not gloss over the fact that Qatar is the world’s highest carbon emitter per capita according to the International Energy Agency.
According to Ali as-Khalifa, chief executive officer of Astad Project Management, the developers behind the LEED Gold certified Qatar National Convention Center where this year’s UN Conference will be held, it is the country’s damning reputation as a carbon polluter that has pushed Qatar towards drastic green action.
“We want to change people’s mindsets,” says al-Khalifa. “We have to make something stay friendly to the environment. We are part of this earth. All the oil and gas countries are moving to a green concept to insure the new generation understands they have to preserve this energy and have something efficient.”
However, going green does not come easy to an area of the world so new to it. According to al-Khalifa, the upfront costs of green materials are still incredibly high, with associated carbon output related to importing cheaper green goods simply counterproductive.
“There are limitations for how much you can do,” he says.
As with all industry efforts in the Middle East, the green building movement promises to be of considerable scale, with the nations’ efforts certainly something to watch out for in the future.