(DENNIS B MALLARI)
The creation of environmentally- friendly marinas is “very high” on a list of priorities of developers in Dubai – but the reality is at least five years away.
The emirate is experiencing a huge growth in demand for berths for luxury boats and yachts. But developers have said more needs to be done locally to bring the latest green standards – already in place in Europe and North America – to Dubai, including greater awareness among UAE residents about the importance of protecting the waters.
Island Global Yachting (IGY), a leading operator of luxury marinas around the world, is working towards obtaining the internationally recognised planet-friendly Leed (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for marinas in the UAE by 2013.
IGY has signed an exclusive agreement to design, develop and run marinas on all of Nakheel’s coastline projects in Dubai, including the Palm islands, The World, The Waterfront and Maritime City.
More than the health of Dubai’s beaches and waterways is at stake in this mission. With waterfront developments set to dramatically expand the emirate’s coastline, industries that depend on Dubai’s reputation for clean beaches and azure waters, such as the tourism and hospitality sectors, have an interest in promoting sustainable building.
Once all Nakheel projects, including the three Palm islands, are completed, hundreds of thousands of more tourists are expected to flock to Dubai and its newly expanded coastline. Despite high initial input costs, the long-term benefits of green marinas to Dubai will be evident if sustainable development does its job and is able to protect the waterways and the emirate’s appeal to visitors and residents.
Marinas will play a large role in the health of the waters because 30,000 to 50,000 boats will probably be moored in Dubai within the next five years, according to projections by Dubai Maritime City, and more than 500 marinas will be built during the next five years.
Although construction at most of the marinas is concentrating on keeping up with world standards – with cleanliness and sustainability at the core – a market insider has said it would take at least another five years for marinas to successfully apply for Leed certification.
IGY, in partnership with Nakheel, has plans to build about 40,000 berths during the next few years. Michael Horrigan, IGY’s CEO for the Middle East and Asia, told Emirates Business their target is to at least qualify for the Leed’s bronze certification by 2013.
Building a green marina encompasses all aspects of construction, from building in a sustainable manner to encouraging boat owners to adopt environmentally sound practices that contribute to clean boating and help protect the water for the enjoyment of the community.
“Starting from baseline evaluation of the construction’s impact on the waterway to the materials we use during the construction and assembling of the marina to the final operational aspects, we at IGY are making extra efforts to ensure the sustainability and best environmental practice,” said Horrigan.
Among IGY’s initiatives are efforts to ensure that boat owners and marina staff do not pollute by installing world standard waste disposal measures, including facilities to handle human waste. “We are also preparing to establish emergency response practices in case of fire or oil spills. Our efforts will be firstly to contain it, treat it and then to completely remove it from the water,” said Horrigan.
Plans also include facilities for in-dock fuelling so that boats do not have to be removed for refuelling. “Our efforts are in combination with Nakheel’s initiatives. Its environmental standards are among the highest in the world and it does not compromise on these standards, whether on water or on the sea. Its Blue Communities will encompass the best approach towards all construction activities on coastal developments,” said Horrigan.
As Dubai’s residents become increasingly fond of boating, their impact on the health of the Gulf will become more apparent. Sales at this year’s Dubai International Boat Show are expected to far exceed the Dh540m spent on yachts, boating equipment and services at the event last year.
“The most important factor for the success of a green marina is the attitude and environmental awareness of the people. On our part, we are fully committed to pursue this goal,” said Horrigan.
He added that residents should not see environmental standards as mere restrictions and cautioned that many hold misconceptions about what types of boats or luxury services can be considered green. “It is not correct to think large and luxurious boats are environmentally hazardous. Today we are able to see more sophisticated engines that can reduce the environmental impact and risks,” he added.
Healthy marinas do not have to sacrifice top-notch facilities such as clubhouses with fine dining, complementary concierge services and wireless internet access, he said.
Nakheel has already launched a new initiative that shows its interest in protecting Dubai’s waters. The developer recently unveiled its plans for a major sustainability project called Blue Communities. It aims to raise awareness of issues specific to coastal development by engaging leaders, non-governmental organisations and other stakeholders to take an active part in developing the initiative and has earmarked Dh500m for research.
Sun Harbor Marina in San Diego, California, was the first marina in the world to be awarded Leed recognition in 2005. Sustainability and efficiency were integrated into every aspect of the project, from site planning through to the recycling of construction waste.
Some of the innovative features of the marina include high-efficiency lighting with daylight sensor controls, low-flow water systems that helped achieve a 37 per cent reduction in water use, the use of young-growth lumber throughout, built with non-toxic materials, provision of recycling stations and the reuse of 70 per cent of the materials from old buildings.
What makes a marina green
Environmentally-friendly marinas should have plans in place to prevent pollution reaching the water, including runoff from waste, oil or washwater. There should also be a clean-up plan to contain and clean up any spills that do occur. Special attention should also be paid to how petrol is handled, including approved use of storage tanks.
Boaters should be involved in the protection of their marina and should not be permitted to throw anything from their craft. Rubbish and recycling bins should also be provided to encourage proper cleanliness. Hazardous materials must be stored in approved fire-safe containers.
Green marinas provide benefits in addition to cleaner waters. Sustainability ensures owners also save on water and energy use. Green buildings on the marina can save 20 to 50 per cent on energy bills annually.
The Leed (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System was developed by the United States Green Building Council, a non-profit organisation.
Leed is a performance-oriented system where points are earned for satisfying certain criteria. Projects can earn points within five categories: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, and Indoor Environmental Quality. Additional points can be achieved for Innovation and Design Process.
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