Myth-Busting Misconceptions Around Sustainability

Tuesday 23rd January 2024
Sustainability is no longer just a buzzword, but an integral force required to shape conscientious conversations and actions worldwide.

The conversation surrounding going green has been shifting from “can we afford to?” to “how can we afford not to?” What often holds companies back is the perceived financial implications of adopting sustainable practices, with concerns regarding initial investments and operational expenses. However, with increasing awareness around the necessity of adopting sustainable practices, there is a notable shift in mindset across industries. In fact, the shift is so significant that 67% of companies have already started using more sustainable materials, such as recycled materials and lower-emitting products.


Despite this progress, a troubling prevalence of misinformation is still floating around within the construction industry. This misinformation could be hindering the adoption of green practices, particularly among contractors and project owners driven primarily by cost considerations. This is why we have taken it upon ourselves to debunk common myths around integrating sustainability into your building project. By providing accurate, well-substantiated information, we aim to encourage a more informed and positive perspective on the adoption of green practices in construction and project development.


Myth 1: “A green building will cost me too much money”


Truth: Green buildings refer to structures that are designed, built, operated, and maintained in an environmentally responsible and resource-efficient manner. 


The term 'resource-efficient' already indicates cost savings for property owners that invest in green construction. Whether these savings manifest through energy efficiency or enhanced property values, the ROI for sustainable construction is much higher than that of conventional buildings


In fact, despite the initial construction cost being a mere 2% higher than standard construction, the first year alone can yield an impressive 10% decrease in operational costs and a 20% reduction in maintenance fees. One study of 30 green schools in the US even revealed a 33% energy reduction compared to conventional buildings.


There are also additional benefits for occupants to consider. The practices used in green building construction tend to improve indoor air quality, increase natural lighting and help safeguard health due to the use of non-toxic building materials. These benefits not only foster occupant satisfaction but also contribute significantly to enhancing your reputation as a developer, two factors that can help elevate property values.


Myth 2: “I have to rebuild, rather than retrofit, if I want my building to be sustainable.”


Truth: While it might be more convenient to integrate sustainable features during the initial design and construction phase, it is also possible to effectively retrofit existing buildings to improve energy efficiency, water conservation and overall sustainability. Sustainability can be equally embraced through a retrofit, without the excess costs of redesigning, demolishing and rebuilding. As the former president of the American Institute of Architects, Carl Elefante said, “the most sustainable building is the one that is already built”.


Retrofitting reduces resource and material consumption, generates less waste, and consumes less energy than constructing new buildings. And so, the process of demolishing older buildings to replace them with greener new builds could be considered counterproductive. The more cost-effective and convenient solution would be to simply upgrade its insulation, switch to renewable energy sources, and integrate water-saving solutions.


The UAE has certainly recognised the effectiveness of retrofits, as evidenced by the proactive measures taken by the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA). DEWA is currently retrofitting 30,000 buildings, a strategic initiative aimed at realising the country's ambitious target of attaining a 30% reduction in energy consumption by 2030. Whilst the cost of this is valued at over $8 billion, the estimated savings upon completion are expected to exceed $22.33 billion. Not only that, but savings of 1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, 5.6 billion imperial gallons of water, and 1.7 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity are anticipated.


Myth 3: “Green certification would be great, but I don’t need it” 


Truth: Embracing green building practices not only allows landlords to contribute to environmental sustainability but also enjoy various economic and operational advantages in the real estate market. Some may argue that the benefits of green practices can be experienced without the cost of applying for and retaining certifications like LEED or WELL, however, certification is an important step in legitimising the sustainability of your building.


The UAE is taking steps to initially encourage and, subsequently, legally mandate the implementation of sustainable building practices. An example of this is the 5 Pearl Estidama Rating System in Abu Dhabi, where newly constructed buildings must achieve a minimum 1 Pearl rating, while government-funded structures are obligated to achieve a 2 Pearl rating. This gradual transition in legislation will soon require a commitment to sustainability throughout the construction sector, so for property developers it seems like a smarter option to consider green certification sooner rather than later.


Qualifying for green certifications can be done either through implementing certain sustainable practices in the construction of the building, or through retrofitting. Both options bring forth a host of associated benefits.


For example, landlords of LEED-certified green buildings have a competitive advantage over landlords of standard buildings due to the lower monthly energy expenses that are inevitably more attractive to tenants. With 4% higher occupancy, 10% higher property value and 11% higher rents, it is safe to say that LEED certification is certainly a worthwhile investment. 




How can Polypipe Middle East help?


From innovative drainage systems for the world’s tallest buildings to the preservation and management of the region’s stormwater, Polypipe Middle East designs and develops solutions that help sustain the future development of the region. Implementing our solutions can contribute to improving overall quality, efficiency and sustainability of your building, also helping to achieve green certification.


Our range of above and below ground drainage solutions, Terrain, offers complete control over water management in your building. Guaranteeing ease, flexibility, and strength, these systems are well-suited for a variety of applications, spanning from new construction to repair and maintenance projects. 


Terrain offers tried and tested water and wastewater management systems that help create safe and healthy building environments. Terrain PVC for example has been used in prestigious projects such as Atlantis the Royal in Dubai and the Abraj Quartier in Doha, due to its ability to handle extreme variation in ambient temperatures, reducing instances of failures and leaks. Terrain FUZE is a high-performing solution, made from recycled HDPE that outperforms traditional materials. Not only is it abrasion and corrosion resistant, which makes the system run more efficiently, but it is also lightweight, making it quicker and more cost effective to install. Terrain Q is a multi-layered, noise-reducing drainage system that helps create a more comfortable environment for building occupants, perfect for healthcare, education or leisure facilities that prioritise health and wellbeing.


The high quality of Terrain systems helps create more resilient buildings that provide a number of benefits that enhance efficiency, sustainability and wellbeing in building projects, whilst also delivering on potential opportunities to save costs.


As the necessity for sustainability gains traction across the construction industry, it is becoming even more imperative to dispel the misconceptions that have held back progress. The myths surrounding green practices highlight the need for greater education and the importance of working with the right partners to bring sustainable projects to life  


Contact our technical team today to learn more about how we can strategically enhance the sustainability and resilience of your next project.


Tel: +971 (0) 4 518 3000 


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