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Sustainable skylines: Inside Dubai’s strategic approach to responsible real estate

Dubai, known for its architectural marvels and opulent skylines, is transforming into a hub of sustainable real estate

Sustainable skylines: Inside Dubai’s strategic approach to responsible real estate

Dubai, synonymous with architectural marvels and opulent skylines, is rapidly transforming its real estate landscape. It holds a significant share of the UAE real estate market and together with the construction sector, contributes to nearly 14.4% of the emirate’s total gross domestic product (GDP). Investment in Dubai’s real estate market reached a staggering US$100 billion in 2023 and is expected to grow 5% this year.

In recent years, the emirate has not only embraced innovation and luxury but has also emerged as a global leader in sustainable development. Dubai’s commendable efforts towards fostering eco-friendly real estate projects establish it as a sustainable urban model for the world, as a recent UN report notes, with a particular emphasis on real estate sustainability in buildings and construction.

Green foundations that integrate sustainability are the bedrock of Dubai’s urban planning, evident right from the initial stages of urban planning.

The Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan plays a pivotal role in maintaining the grasp on sustainable homes as it brings together commitments of efficient resource utilisation, sustainable mobility, develop vibrant, healthy and inclusive communities and double green and leisure areas to provide a healthy environment to residents and visitors and enhance environmental sustainability with the help of a comprehensive legislation to plan a governance model that supports sustainable development and growth. Integrating green spaces, renewable energy sources, and sustainable infrastructure, Dubai has set a solid foundation for a more eco-conscious urban environment.

Sankey Prasad, CMD, India and CMD Middle East Project Leaders, Colliers

Innovative architectural designs for sustainability and aesthetics

One of the key facets of Dubai’s sustainable development journey is the marriage of architectural grandeur with eco-friendly design principles. From the iconic Burj Khalifa to the innovative Museum of the Future, Dubai’s skyline showcases structures that not only stand as testaments to engineering prowess but also prioritise energy efficiency and environmental sustainability. Cutting-edge technologies, such as smart building management systems and energy-efficient materials, are now integral to the city’s real estate landscape.

The World Bank cites one such example – The Sustainable City, a 500-unit community in the heart of Dubai. To manage temperatures more than 40 degrees centigrade for 4 to 5 months of the year, solar panels cover almost all buildings and car parking spaces while light-coloured surfaces are designed to reflect the sun and reduce air-conditioning loads. Besides, south-facing facades are closed to block the sun while insulated windows cover the northern frontages.

As a result, in 2021, this community avoided over 8,000 tons of CO2e, roughly equivalent to removing 853 cars from the roads for a year. Their average daily water consumption was 162 litres/capita compared to Dubai’s average of 278, and over 80% of household waste was sorted and recycled.

The integration of smart city technologies is a linchpin in Dubai’s sustainable development strategy. From smart grids optimising energy consumption to intelligent transportation systems reducing carbon footprints, Dubai is leveraging cutting-edge technologies to create a more sustainable urban ecosystem. This technological leap extends to the real estate sector, where IoT-enabled devices and data analytics contribute to the efficient use of resources and enhance overall sustainability.

In turn, sustainable practices and emphasis on a technology-oriented pivot to a smart city have enabled Dubai to establish itself as a global hub of innovation and talent, drawing people seeking economic and intellectual opportunities alike.

Rewarding regulatory framework mandating green practices

Dubai’s commitment to sustainable real estate is fortified by a robust regulatory framework. The emirate has implemented stringent guidelines and standards that developers must adhere to, ensuring that new projects align with environmental sustainability benchmarks. These regulations encompass energy-efficient building codes, waste management protocols, and water conservation measures. Through these mandates, Dubai has created a business environment where sustainability is encouraged and mandated.

The green certification initiatives of Dubai generously recognise and reward sustainable practices. The introduction of green certification systems, such as the Dubai Green Building Regulations and Specifications, aims to recognise and reward developments that prioritise environmental responsibility. These certifications not only serve as a badge of honour for developers but also contribute to creating a market demand for sustainable real estate – such proactive steps to incentivise sustainable practices enable the government to push green initiatives further.

Sustainable development in Dubai goes beyond buildings; it extends to fostering sustainable communities. Initiatives encouraging green spaces, community gardens, and eco-friendly transportation options are becoming integral to the city’s urban planning. Soft mobility nudges such as shaded walking and cycling promote healthier communities while shared electric buggies and on-site charging points for electric vehicles are various ways to motivate consumers towards green vehicles. By involving residents in the journey towards sustainability, Dubai is not just constructing buildings but cultivating a culture of environmental responsibility.

Dubai’s metamorphosis into a hub of sustainable real estate projects is a testament to the city’s foresight and commitment to a greener future. From the earliest stages of urban planning to the integration of state-of-the-art technologies and stringent regulatory measures, Dubai has strategically positioned itself as a global exemplar in sustainable development. As the emirate continues to balance luxury with environmental consciousness, it sets a precedent for other global cities to follow, proving that sustainable real estate is not just an aspiration but a tangible reality in the heart of the desert.