“The Middle East Is At The Forefront Of Sustainable Building”: Jason R. De Guzman
Construction in the Middle East has a bright future. Saudi Arabia is actively working on sustainable and environmentally friendly infrastructure. Also, to incorporate environmentally friendly practices, such as using products certified by the UK's Green Building Council. That's why the Middle East's design business, in particular, has a bright future. They are quickly moving up the ranks to become market leaders. Having enough money to invest in building up its infrastructure not just in Saudi Arabia but across the whole of the Middle East and North Africa. To put it simply, they are not counting on the market. The scale of development is increasing, which is a positive sign.
Owing to an abundance of sunlight in the region, the construction sector has started utilizing solar power options to the fullest. Commenting further on that note, Jason De Guzman, Senior Architect at Alrugaib Holding stated, “In light of the rapid environmental shifts taking place, a solar power plant is already strongly recommended by legislators. The usage of solar panels, with their reduced prices relative to the electrical grid, can provide an alternative source of clean energy and electricity, reducing dependency on fossil fuels and perhaps contributing to cost savings. The technologies that make an energy efficiency statement are made to consume less energy while yet accomplishing the same goals as conventional systems. The region has a lot to offer, particularly in terms of renewable energy sources like the intense sunlight of which we speak. Here in the primary region, most of the major countries, such as the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, have diversified their energy activities. It would have been amazing to have been able to witness these changes in every major project, especially commercial and residential ones. However, I believe the Middle East should prioritise providing these types of sectors with solar electricity and other sustainable resources.”
Construction Sector Needs To Fill In Its Pockets With Sustainable Solutions
The construction sector, however, needs to expedite learning about sustainable or environmentally friendly building practices, thereby reducing the need to play catch-up. Although developers and investors have access to all materials, the motivation of those with a vested interest in green construction materials is less important than their compliance with applicable standards. The cost of the product is the primary cause of alarm.
Elaborating further, Jason commented, “Sustainable development necessitates that the construction sector prioritises familiarity and education with the segment. The Middle East, in particular, faces challenges when it comes to adopting environmentally friendly building practices and materials. The time I spent in Dubai revealed that it had already been put into practice. Since I work on so many different projects, I've had to get familiar with many specifications, such as my team's certification for eco-friendly materials and fittings.”
“If we're talking about supplies or machinery, then certainly, it's pricey. But if the procedure is carried out in a methodical fashion, or if it is created appropriately, taking into account the needs of the project alone, it can be controlled. No more time or money will be allotted to this project, just what is needed to complete it. Thus, the cost of eco-friendly methods is higher than average. Stakeholders will constantly consider looking for sustainable techniques and materials that are convenient and ready to use whenever they arise, provided that the benefits will eventually outweigh the expenses,” Jason added.
It's a deal breaker for any project, especially if it needs to meet the standard for return on investment at the time. Investors will be prompted to support and move on with sustainable initiatives if they are convinced that sustainable practices would offer them a high return on investment.
Challenges In Moving Forward With Sustainable Construction
Another issue is that the Saudi government is not taking the lead on this front at the present time, and as a result, it is not providing certification for the use of truly green building materials or applications to decarbonize transportation. Presently, that does not exist. What ends up happening is a lot of demolition in Saudi Arabia, which is the wrong approach if you want to find green and sustainable building solutions, as any demolition runs against these principles. Problems arise, then, when it comes to informing the public about climate change and receiving official backing for efforts to lessen its effects on society as a whole. Perhaps we have a good idea of what the next five to ten years hold for our industry and profession. However, the government must first learn to read the people's minds and pay attention to their concerns, even those concerning international law.
“I came to the kingdom to complete a project. The difficulty in the building sector is that the stakeholders and the employees are not engaged in sustainable building practices. And I'm still confused as to the many advantages of this. The problem is that they are aware, but not in the right way,” stated Jason.
Replacing Cement With Climate-Forward Solutions
An increasing number of concerns have been raised about the negative effects on the environment from both the production of Portland cement and the widespread usage of cement-based building products. By using blended cement instead of Portland cement or substituting supplemental cementitious materials (SCMs) for Portland cement, the building industry can be made more environmentally friendly. Silica-rich fly ash, a byproduct of coal combustion in power plants, is currently the most widely used SCM. Fly ash is a key ingredient in cement and concrete manufacturing, but its dominance is dwindling as coal-fired power units are gradually shut down. Fly ash cannot be substituted with granulated blast furnace slag, which is typically used to lower the clinker content, because of the latter’s characteristics and scarcity. Fly ash from biomass combustion, as well as natural (pumice, volcanic tuffs), and synthetic (metakaolin) pozzolans are also being taken into consideration by the construction sector.
“Yes, I saw it for the first time during the 2020 project I just ended, but there's a catch: the resource isn't being imported or made locally. Because the technology required to produce this product is not readily available in my country, and because it has a certification in Singapore for use in the construction industry, I was able to persuade them to use MCM, a sustainable material I had specifically chosen for my project. Since the government is currently pushing everyone to be sustainable and use green materials, but the materials and resources are not available here locally, it will be very difficult for you to implement or create a volume of these materials and try to have a certification that your building and your construction is a sustainable Oregon green building process,” said Jason.
Latest Trends In The Construction Sector In The Middle East
While discussing the recent trends and pulse of the construction sector, Jason revealed that the environment may not be ready for the implementation of new designs. While Saudi Arabia continues to place a premium on honouring the past and making use of local archives, Dubai skips all that and dives headfirst into the cutting-edge design. “So, I've been looking for other experts that share our passions and see the value in working together. In addition, we may aid the local community by learning about green construction and sustainable advances from industry experts and then actively seeking out opportunities to conduct research on green buildings,” stated Jason.
“To help them accomplish the same goals that every country strives for in order to have a very sustainable existence, I am an expert working here to support them and teach them how to grow their community and country. So, keep an eye on the latest trends, or at least try to stay up with them, and further your own education. That's why I keep an eye on the so-called UGREENUS, a group of eco-friendly construction enthusiasts that provide guides to sustainable design and construction. Therefore, it is important to fund media and content produced by groups committed to improving the lives of people everywhere,” added Jason.
In his spare time, Jason enjoys spending time with his wife and children. But travel documentaries are his favourite genre of television. As a budding architect, he is curious about the structural integrity and long-term viability of prehistoric building methods. Every night he views the same few selections on his computer to gain perspective on the architecture of various countries.