Between 70 per cent and 80 per cent of legislative framework for green building design will be issued in the next two months, according to Essa Maidoor, Assistant Director-General for Building and Planning Affairs at the Dubai Municipality.
He told Emirates Business that it is a first time in the world that going green will be a mandatory process whereas internationally it is an elective process.
In collaboration with WSP Group (the design, engineering and management consultancy), the Building Department of Dubai Municipality is developing a legislative framework to guide green building design.
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, order was to start green building implementation from 2008 and municipality and Dewa were asked to look after the physical implementation and issued regulation 161 for green buildings.
The regulations are in line with the Dubai Strategic Plan. The second phase was supposed to start from January but has been delayed.
"In two months, we will try to issue an intermediate report and see to it that 70 per cent to 80 per cent of the regulations will be circulated in the market and left open for market feedback," said Maidoor.
"The intention is to get comments from consultants, contractors and suppliers. Any regulation is not an academic study. When it comes into practice, we have to evaluate the systems and assess how it can be implemented by different sectors. We will be placing it before the Executive Council when the process is finished."
The municipality is also leaving room for improvements. "We are leaving room to develop the process and in the meanwhile will undertake some studies until we reach the best outcome," he said. "There are different challenges to implementation. The awareness is low and its seriousness is not understood. Again, it is an elective process worldwide whereas in Dubai, we want to make it a regulation and make sure that it is applied," said Maidoor
"But we will be implementing it on an incentive basis since we want it to be a win-win situation. The city wins and the inhabitants will get a better way of life."
He said here were delays but the reasons were valid since the practical aim is to ensure that the market is prepared when the legislation is applied.
"There are some delays because certain issues have to be investigated in detail. It is important to understand that you are trying to change the practice of an entire industry and that has to be done with precision.
"When we apply it, we want to make sure that everyone is prepared and the lab is ready for testing the materials. We also need to know if the materials are available to comply with the green regulations," he said.
"It will be obligatory and that is not an easy task. You have to also study its effects and implications in the market situation. We are trying to be practical and fast in trying to reach a conclusion." The Government of Dubai has always improved its legislations and taken initiatives that have improved the environment, he added.
"This is a new way of doing things and a first for Dubai but it did not hesitate and wonder about how this will affect the market. They were also not hesitant to apply it in totality within new projects," he said.
The green roof initiative is a part of the move and has started. "The manual will be ready in two weeks. We believe in leading by example," said Maidoor. "In March, we will launch this is three to four locations – some owned by Dubai Municipality and others by private developers who will voluntarily participate in this plan."
The challenges are many he added. "It is easy to implement green building design in the new buildings but the challenge lies in the old buildings, which is the huge task," said Maidoor.
"But we will change that hopefully. We invited the entire industry, which consisted of developers, architects and contractors in Dubai but the participation was weak. We did our best but we cannot wait forever for all to respond though some do send feedback."
The municipality has got a Dh3 billion budget this year, he added. "Of this, the general projects section has got a Dh1.2bn budget as per the plan. Our services are necessary and hence basic amenities have to be implemented," said Maidoor.
"Last year, we issued 30,000 building permits. There is a reduction of permits being submitted but that is a slight drop."