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ME 'needs to be serious on global warming'

Manama, May 5, 2010

The Middle East lags behind the rest in its care for environment, and the region needs to be more aware of the threat of global warming, said Bahrain’s Minister of Housing Sheikh Ebrahim bin Khalifa Al Khalifa.

Sheikh Ebrahim’s comments came as he opened the Green Building Forum in Bahrain on Wednesday at a packed conference suite in the Bahrain International Exhibition and Convention Centre (BIEC).

More than 200 delegates attended the forum, which was held alongside the gulfBID and gulfINTERIORS shows.

At the forum the minister stressed the need for the kingdom’s government to address the supply side of electricity and water by developing sustainable energy sources.

“There is a high degree of urgency for this. The Middle East has the highest carbon dioxide emissions per capita, while awareness of global warming in the Arab region is behind the rest of the world,” he said in his keynote speech.

The minister said while Bahrain was committed to developing sustainable energy sources, producing more ‘green energy’ was only half the battle.

'No energy policy can be complete without a full understanding of the opportunities to save energy and how these can be tapped economically. By capturing the potential available for existing technologies, we could cut global energy demand growth by half or more over the next 15 years,' he noted.

“Investing in energy productivity generates energy savings of up to $600 billion annually by 2020 across all developing regions. Because of their positive returns, energy-efficiency investments are also the cheapest way to meet growing energy needs,” he explained.

Sheikh Ebrahim said his ministry had been actively pursuing green building practices in the last two years, focusing on global best practices to deliver durable housing units that were both environmentally sensitive and affordable.

As part of its programme to develop 50,000 housing units over the next five years, the ministry will include green building practices.

In the Public Private Partnership pilot project which is currently out for tender, and which will deliver around 5,000 units by the second half of 2012, the consortia have been asked to incorporate the latest green building practices, including those related to electricity and water conservation.

Furthermore, one of the criteria for the bidders will be Leed (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating.

The ministry is also updating its building code, making it much easier for the private sector to develop and implement new green building techniques and methods for the benefit of the environment and individual citizens, he said.

The forum provided a platform for the exchange of opinion, experiences and information from around the world.

Barwa & Qatari Diar Research Institute (BQDRI) chairman and managing director Dr Yousef Al Horr outlined progress on the evolution of a performance-based green buildings rating system in the Mena region, while prominent US renewable energy scientist Dr Mowafak Al Jassim spoke about the way in which buildings were rapidly becoming energy generators.

The cost implications of Leed certification and adopting green building technologies was discussed by Emirates Green Building Council Chairman Jeffrey Willis.

The Indian approach to green building design using sustainable technology was presented by Professor Vasanth Bhat from the Dayananda Sagar College of Engineering (DSCE) in Bangalore, India. Daneh Al Rayes, vice-president of T-Linx in Bahrain, meanwhile, explored smart technology concepts.

Technical presentations were given by Dr Wafik Ajam, technical and marketing manager of the Saudi Arabia-based Canam Asia, and Dr Kamal Abu Arja from LCC Siporex in Saudi Arabia, while the education and training-related aspects of green building concepts were offered by Professor Hans Haenlein MBE from the University of Reading in the UK.

The opening session was chaired by Anwar Abdulrahman, chairman of Bahrain’s Al Hilal Group. Panel sessions were moderated by Dr Hashim Hussein, head of Unido ITPO in Bahrain, Ronnie Middleton, managing director, Al Hilal Group, and Brendan McSharry, director of the British Council in Bahrain.-TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Bahrain | Global warming | ME | serious | green forum |

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