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The UAE Ranks Eighth Among Top 10 Countries for LEED Green Building 03/Nov/2015

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced that the United Arab Emirates ranked eighth on USGBC’s annual ranking of the Top 10 Countries for LEED, the world’s most widely used and recognized green building rating system. The Top 10 Countries for LEED list ranks countries in terms of gross square meters and numbers of LEED projects to date. The announcement comes at a time of increased international focus on climate change mitigation in the lead up to the United Nation’s COP21 climate negotiations this December.

The increased popularity of LEED throughout the UAE is reflective of the country’s aggressive push to achieve greater economic diversification, and USGBC’s recognition of the country’s green building community is timely since it follows the government’s announcement last month that the country’s non-oil related sectors have seen 8.1 percent growth in 2015, meaning that these sectors of the economy are on target to constitute as much as 80 percent of the Emirates’ national gross domestic product (GDP) by 2021.The international green building market is also projected to see significant growth in the next 10 years, and the UAE is poised to benefit from this rapid market expansion. USGBC’s announcement also follows a report from the World Bank in June that noted that the UAE has seen an unhealthy spike in PM 2.5 air pollution. LEED is known for its emphasis on improving indoor environmental quality for building inhabitants, and people typically spend 90 percent of their time indoors where air quality tends to be much worse than outdoor air quality.

“LEED-certified buildings help ensure that our collective legacy to our children and our children’s children is founded in environmental stewardship, high standards of human health and a desire to ensure that our economic growth occurs in a foreword looking and responsible way,” said Rick Fedrizzi, CEO and founding chair, USGBC. “The United Arab Emirates has become an increasingly important center for the global green building movement, a development that will help provide greater environmental health and increased economic opportunity for its citizens and will hopefully help to inspire a robust green building market throughout the Middle East.”

The 10 countries that made the list for 2015 are geographically and culturally diverse, representing seven of the world’s 20 largest single-nation economies by gross domestic product (GDP) (China, Germany, Brazil, India, Canada, South Korea andTurkey), as well as six of the top 11 emitters of greenhouse gases (China, India, Germany, South Korea, Canada and Brazil).

The analysis used to develop the list ranks countries in terms of gross square meters (GSM) and numbers of LEED projects to date. LEED-certified spaces use less energy and water resources, save money for families, businesses and taxpayers, reduce carbon emissions and create a healthier environment for residents, workers and the larger community. The United States, the birthplace of LEED, is not included in this list but remains the world’s largest market for LEED. The U.S. is the world’s largest economy by GDP as well as the world’s second largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

Every day, nearly 172,000 GSM of space is certified using LEED, and there are currently more than 69,800 commercial and institutional projects representing 1.23 billion GSM of space participating in the green building rating system. An additional 76,500 residential units have been certified under LEED for Homes. LEED projects can now be found in more than 150 countries and territories across the world.

At a time when the international community is looking to the UN’s negotiations in Paris as a historically significant chance to come up with real, binding solutions to climate change, the global popularity of LEED is a sign that a ‘green economic miracle’ is well within reach. LEED’s success demonstrates that there are proven, internationally credible solutions to some of the complex questions surrounding climate change mitigation that can help stimulate economic growth while also avoiding harmful economic disruptions. With buildings accounting for up to 30 percent of global emissions, a commitment to the rapid transformation of the global built environment seems to be one solution that the entire world can get behind.

A sample of notable projects that certified in the UAE in 2014 include:

Abu Dhabi: International Tower, Capital Center, LEED Gold
Ajman: Ajman Saray-A Luxury Hotel and Resort, LEED Silver
Dubai: Panasonic Avionics, Dubai, LEED Platinum
Abu Dhabi: Rosewood Abu Dhabi, LEED Certified
The United Arab Emirates has a broad base of support for LEED across the country, with more than 80 USGBC member organizations spread across the country’s architecture, construction, manufacturing, real estate and retail industries. The UAE also boasts the world’s fourth largest professional LEED workforce behind only the United States, Canada and China, a statistic that shows that the country is bracing for much greater LEED green building demand in the coming years.


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