EmiratesGBC 2024: Key Takeaways from Sustainability Kiosk

一    Khalisah Stevens
|    June 26, 2024

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As a new member of the Emirates Green Building Council (EmiratesGBC), Sustainability Kiosk had the privilege of attending the EmiratesGBC Congress 2024, themed “Beyond COP28: THE ROLE OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT TO DELIVER ON THE UAE CONSENSUS”. The event brought together industry leaders, sustainability experts, and stakeholders to discuss and promote strategies for achieving net-zero emissions in the built environment.

Here, we share our insights and the significant outcomes from the event, emphasizing the relevance of our participation and the importance of the energy and water benchmarking tool provided by EmiratesGBC.

Key Outcomes from the EmiratesGBC Congress 2024:

  1. Enhanced Collaboration: The congress highlighted the critical need for improved collaboration among various stakeholders, including government bodies, private sector companies, and non-profit organizations. We can leverage collective expertise and resources to drive the net-zero agenda forward by working together. Elham Al Qasim, Chief Strategy and Technology Officer at Majid Al Futtaim, delivered the opening remarks, underscoring this collaborative spirit. 
  2. Decarbonization Innovation: Numerous innovative solutions and technologies were showcased, ranging from energy-efficient building designs to decarbonization systems. These solutions are pivotal in reducing the built environment’s carbon footprint and achieving net-zero targets. Paul Raphael, Regional Director of Strategic Advisory at AtkinsRéalis,  shared a comprehensive approach to reducing carbon emissions within the built environment with “decarbonomics”. Ayhan Tugrul, Chief Operating Officer (COO) & Executive Board Member at CARES presented a new model for establishing transparency in the steel industry for construction with a digitally-enabled conformity assurance & digital material passport system. 
  3. Financing to Power the Future: UAE-grown company Positive Zero offers decarbonization-as-a-service by integrating the capabilities of SirajPower, Taka Solutions, and HYPR Energy to provide comprehensive clean energy solutions backed by advanced digital analytics. Positive Zero also attracted an investment of up to US$400 million from BlackRock’s Diversified Infrastructure team to support their mission.
  4. Policy and Regulation: Discussions at the event underscored the importance of robust policy frameworks and regulations to support sustainability initiatives. Policymakers emphasized the need for clear guidelines and incentives to encourage the adoption of green building practices. Jamila El Mir, a sustainable transitions policy and strategy expert, shared insights from the UAE Sustainability Built Environment Blueprint, an update from COP28 Dubai. 

Insights Learned at the Event: 

  1. Rising Carbon Offsetting Costs: The cost of carbon offsets are steadily increasing, making it more financially viable for businesses to focus on reducing emissions rather than relying on offsetting. This shift emphasizes the importance of integrating sustainable practices to achieve long-term cost savings and compliance with evolving regulations.
  2. Sustainable Design as Standard Practice: Chris Wan, Associate Director of Sustainability and CSR at Masdar City, emphasized that sustainable design should no longer be an exception but the norm in construction and urban development. Implementing sustainable design principles from the outset can significantly reduce environmental impact and operational costs. 
  3. Utilizing Low-Hanging Fruits: Several opportunities exist for immediate sustainability improvements, these include adopting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) framework, collaborating with NGOs such as the Emirates Green Building Council, and actively seeking feedback from staff and employees to identify practical sustainability initiatives. 
  4. Starting with Carbon: It is crucial to begin sustainability efforts by focusing on carbon emissions. Identifying the key levers for carbon reduction allows organizations to prioritize actions that will have the most significant impact. This approach ensures a targeted and effective strategy for achieving net-zero emissions. 
  5. The Importance of Baselines: Establishing accurate baselines is fundamental but often overlooked. A baseline provides a reference point for measuring progress and effectiveness of sustainability initiatives. Baseline data is essential for planning retrofits and holding organizations accountable for their sustainability commitments. 
  6. Strategize, Digitize, and Decarbonize: There is an urgent need to develop comprehensive strategies for sustainability, incorporating digital tools and technologies to monitor and manage energy use effectively. This approach helps streamline processes, enhance data accuracy, and accelerate the transition to a low-carbon future as suggested by Rahul Mehta, Digital Energy Vice President at Schneider Electric. 

The Importance of the Energy and Water Benchmarking Program:

One of the key highlights of the congress was the introduction of the 2024 energy and water benchmarking program by EmiratesGBC. Data is powerful tool, and this program is designed to help organizations measure and track their energy and water usage, providing a clear picture of their environmental impact. Here’s why we support and highly recommend this program:

  1. Data-Driven Decisions: This data is essential for identifying areas of improvement and implementing effective sustainability measures.
  2. Performance Tracking: This continuous monitoring of performance against industry standards helps in setting achievable targets and evaluating the effectiveness of sustainability initiatives.
  3. Resource Optimization: The tool helps in optimizing resource usage, leading to cost savings and improved operational efficiency.
  4. Regulatory Compliance: With increasing regulations and standards related to sustainability, the benchmarking tool ensures that organizations stay compliant. It provides the necessary data and reports required for regulatory submissions and certifications.

Be sure to read the previous benchmark report by EmiratesGBC and register your interest in taking part by filling out this survey.

Our participation in the EmiratesGBC Congress 2024 was a significant step towards advancing our sustainability goals. The insights and connections gained from the event will guide our future initiatives, ensuring that we continue to lead by example in promoting sustainable practices. We highly recommend the energy and water benchmarking tool provided by EmiratesGBC, as it is an invaluable resource for any organization committed to reducing its environmental impact and achieving net-zero emissions.

Speak to us to get started on your sustainability journey or for any questions about sustainable solution providers.

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