Posted on October 30, 2014
As architects and developers in the GCC push towards creating more green buildings, the demand for sustainable building materials may exceed the supply. Efforts towards a more sustainable urban infrastructure were slow to take of in the GCC, but government efforts to promote sustainability over the last three years have seen a recent surge in movement towards green construction projects as developers realise the increasing need for buildings to display sustainability in order to be marketable to an increasingly environmentally-conscious brand of consumer.
In 2013 there were 1,236 LEED-rated projects in the GCC, 67% of which were in the UAE. Qatar supported 190 projects (16%) and Saudi Arabia 158 projects (13%). UAE is acknowledged as the GCC leader in green building practices with Abu Dhabi even having its own system to monitor green building practices in the state - Estidama is a green building integrated program that assesses sustainability across the life of a building. Dubai is also set to host the Sustainable Design and Construction Conference in its World Trade Centre in November and has imposed Green Building Codes on all new construction, aiming for a third of buildings in the city to be green within the next 10 years. The increase in the number of green buildings has seen a consequential rise in the demand for green building materials, as well as the creation of new and unconventional building materials in line with building specifications.
The global market for green building materials is projected to reach US$529 billion in 2020, driven by the growing focus on the optimisation of resources such as water, energy, and raw materials. The increase in green building developments in GCC illustrates the growing popularity of green building practices and the drive towards an ultimate objective of net zero energy buildings. Several countries across the globe are now enforcing regulations for long-term emphasis on sustainable building practices and zero-energy buildings, with the United States representing the largest market worldwide supported by their higher customer willingness to adopt green practices. The Asia Pacific region is set to emerge as the fastest growing world market with a CAGR of 16.9% to 2020 with growth driven by stabilising economies, improving living standards and rising disposable income levels, and increasing awareness and emphasis on energy conservation.
As green buildings become more popular, manufacturers are working to produce new and innovative green building materials that show high performance and sustainability. Recently popular are biomaterials made from bamboo and other agricultural derivatives such as sugar cane, fibre crops and wheat straw; sheep's wool is part of the efforts to replace plastic insulation foams with renewable solutions from agricultural bioproducts; engineered wood, timber and glass are to see increased demand as roofing solutions witness extensive investment, research, and production.
The green building materials market is set for continued growth as consumer knowledge of sustainability increases and there is a growing movement to reduce energy consumption. Improvements in material science and evolving design and construction practices are driving the market shift towards green materials.
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