In the face of escalating urbanisation and the tangible threats posed by climate change, the construction industry, particularly within the EMEA region, recognises energy efficiency as an essential pillar of future development. This recognition is now shaping the narrative of construction, transitioning energy efficiency from an optional consideration to a foundational element. Here, we explore this shift and its implications for the future.
The contemporary construction industry is a considerable consumer of energy, responsible for approximately 36% of global energy usage and an equivalent quota of CO2 emissions. Within the dynamic economies of the EMEA region, where expansive growth is a constant, the built environment plays a significant role in shaping energy policies and environmental strategies. However, this expansion comes with increasing energy demands and heightened environmental impacts.
The construction sector's current trajectory presents a dual challenge: escalating operational costs and increasing environmental consequences. The International Energy Agency (IEA) highlights that buildings are responsible for nearly a third of global energy use, with electricity demand in buildings witnessing a sharp increase of nearly 60% in the last two decades. In the fast-developing economies of the EMEA region, energy demand from buildings has seen annual increases exceeding 8%, spotlighting the urgency for sustainable building practices.
Moving forward towards energy efficiency
The drive towards energy efficiency is gaining momentum, with technological advancements and sustainable practices at its core. Introducing energy-efficient measures, such as advanced insulation, high-efficiency HVAC systems, and smart building technologies, can significantly reduce energy consumption. The Edge in Amsterdam, with its 98.36% BREEAM score, and The Pearl in Qatar, with its advanced cooling systems, stand as leading examples of energy-efficient construction, paving the way for the industry.
Actionable steps and the role of consultants
Real estate development consultants are now pivotal in steering the construction industry towards energy efficiency. They possess the requisite expertise to conduct comprehensive feasibility studies, assess environmental impacts, and implement sustainable design principles. Their role is instrumental in ensuring the integration of energy-efficient technologies into construction projects, supported by in-depth financial and technical evaluations.
The central message is unequivocal: the adoption of energy efficiency measures is critical for the future of construction. This approach delivers tangible benefits, including reduced operational costs and improved environmental outcomes. It is reported by the IEA that investments in energy-efficient buildings can yield a 5-8% return, signifying not just environmental but also economic prudence.
Moreover, the increased market demand for green building certifications, such as LEED and Dubai's Al Sa'fat, reflects a growing awareness and prioritisation of sustainable living. This trend is complemented by legislative efforts, such as the European Union's directive for all new buildings to be nearly zero-energy by 2021, reinforcing the importance of energy-efficient practices.
For industry leaders and stakeholders, the directive is clear: energy efficiency must be the foundation upon which new developments are built. This strategic focus ensures the construction sector's alignment with both market demands and environmental imperatives, paving the way for a future where sustainable and cost-effective buildings are the norm.