Sustainability system for Middle East


Sean Dudley

The Barwa and Qatari Diar Research Institute, which supports research and training to ensure sustainable development in Qatar and the world, has launched its Qatar Sustainability Assessment System for Cities and Urban Planning, which its says is the first such scheme in the Middle East to be based on objective performance standards.

QSAS covers indicative design guidelines for best practices in urban planning along with a range of software that facilitates the process of conducting the necessary calculations for the design of the project. The system also includes a project management system specially designed to help designers, developers and owners to control project assessments to achieve the highest levels of sustainability.

“QSAS is considered a safety valve to preserve the architectural identity of the gulf region, since it encourages adopting sustainable design principles which coincide with environment in shape and context, and takes into account issues that imported assessment systems do not,” said BQDRI chairman Dr Yousef Al-Horr.

QSAS criteria are divided into eight categories Urban Connectivity, Site, Energy, Water, Materials, Indoor Environment, Cultural & Economic Value, and Management & Operations – each with a direct impact on environmental stress mitigation. Each category measures a different aspect of a project’s environmental impact. The eight categories are then broken down into specific criteria that measure and define individual issues. A score is then awarded to each criterion based on the degree of compliance.

The system deals with many cases in urban planning. For instance it focuses on studying the efficiency of plan design to maintain the original environment for the location and its components, as well as the services available in it, ability to provide infrastructure, facilitate sport and health facilities such as walking and jogging, resist desertification, reduce crime, create public spaces and reduce noise. The system also deals with assessing water and electricity consumption by using the best insulating materials which reduce carbon emissions. The system also deals with water purification technologies and re-using water for irrigation and outdoor washing purposes. The system encourages the recycling and re-use of materials and the use of locally and regionally manufactured materials which reduce the quantity of materials transferred and carbon emissions and encourage national industries to challenge the need for imports.

Qatari Diar is a major investor and master developer active around the Middle East. It holds a 45 per cent stake in development company Barwa. Both companies are involved in a number of golf-related projects across the region.