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UAE climbs up global green building rankings

Dubai's Chamber of Commerce and Industry (on the left) – one of the country's LEED platinum certified buildings

The United Arab Emirates is punching above its weight for new energy-efficient buildings, according to figures from the US Green Building Council (USGBC).

The list ranks countries outside the US by the number of projects that have adopted the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) green building rating system.

In the latest ranking, the UAE jumped from ninth to eighth on the list, with 3.1 million square metres of LEED certified space, and 910 LEED projects.

Worldwide, there are nearly 70,000 LEED projects. Outside the US, where the LEED system originated (and which boasts 276.9 million square metres of LEED-certified space), Canada comes out top, with 26.6 million square metres, and nearly 5,000 LEED projects.

Of course, the figures are partly just a reflection of the amount of construction work going on in the UAE. More new buildings means more new LEED-certified buildings, and rampant construction isn’t necessarily the best thing for the environment.

But they’re certainly a sign that there’s growing interest in green buildings in the UAE, which represents a great opportunity for lighting.

As David Clements of lighting manufacturer Future Designs  recently wrote in Lux: ‘Although the cost of energy is not necessarily the driving force [behind energy efficiency] in the Middle East, there is a greater awareness of the importance of environmental and maintenance issues. Lighting is always the most visible form of energy use within a building, accounting for up to 50 per cent of the total energy bill.’

Rick Fedrizzi, CEO of the USGBC, said: ‘The global success of LEED… is a sign that international business leaders and policymakers recognise that a commitment to transforming the built environment is crucial to addressing major environmental challenges. The countries on this list are pushing this commitment forward.’

LEED-certified buildings in the UAE include the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre, and the Panasonic Avionics building, all of which achieved the top platinum rating.