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ASHGHAL adopts Qatar Sustainable Assessment System (QSAS)

May 26,2010

Public Works Authority (ASHGHAL), adopts Qatar Sustainable Assessment System (QSAS) and the concept of sustainable developments in its public building projects. Ashghal signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with BARWA & Qatari Diar Research Institute (BQDRI) on the provision of measures to adopt, apply and develop a sustainable building concept to create a better living environment for natives and residents. 

The MOU will be singed on Wednesday, 26th may 2010 at ASHGHAL headquarter by Eng. Nasser Ali AI- Mawlawi, President of Public Works Authority, and Dr. Yousef Mohamed Al-Horr, Chairman & Managing Director of BQDRI in the presence of senior officials from both organizations.

The MOU aims to reaffirm the commitment of both organizations to preserve the environment and enhancing the concept of sustainability to ensure a healthy environmental life for future generations, through:

  1. Cooperation in applying the Qatar Sustainable Assessment System (QSAS) in various building projects to reduce the impacts of climate change and provide a better living environment that maintains the economic and environmental balance on one hand and the national identity of Qatar on the other.
  2. Contributing to the research and development in the environmental issues of common concern. 

This initiative of both organisations came in line with the Qatar National Vision 2030 that asserts due focus on sustainable development, guaranteeing preservation of natural resources and reduced environmental affects while supporting the economic boom of Qatar witnessed today in the era of HH Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar.

Speaking in the MoU signing ceremony, Eng. AI- Mawlawi said: "Our MOU with BQDRI and the adoption of QSAS will allow ASHGHAL to take the lead in addressing strategic issues related to preserving Qatar's natural resources, reduction of carbon emissions, minimization of ecological impacts, and assurance of environmental quality". 

“Being the authority responsible for developing and managing pioneer infrastructure that supports the developmental objectives of the State of Qatar, ASHGHAL requires innovative systems with complete flexibility that complies with Qatar's real estate development identity. Our choice of QSAS and cooperation with BQDRI, is based on the advantages that differentiate QSAS from other practiced rating systems in the region and which is in compliance with preserving our heritage and identity" Eng. AI- Mawlawi continued.

He added saying, “Our partnership with BQDRI to deploy QSAS is due to the fact that QSAS is the first of its kind in the Middle East which depends on the objective performance, and was developed based on local needs while leveraging best practices which is a definite advantage, especially for regions where environmental, economic, social, and cultural conditions are unlike other areas in the world such as desertification, scarcity of water and the cultural and national identity".

Eng. AI- Mawlawi concluded: "From our belief and commitment to Qatar National Vision 2030, partnering with BQDRI and QSAS will make ASHGHAL, the responsible authority for building schools, mosques and general governmental buildings, a model for the environmental commitments towards our beloved country." 

On the other hand, Dr Al-Horr, Chairman of BQDRI congratulated ASHGHAL and BQDRI for this partnership, commenting that both organizations share a commitment to Qatar National Vision 2030 and to the need for advanced and integrated sustainability practices which preserve the environment and national identity. 

Dr Al-Horr added saying, "BQDRI abided by the science and researches of sustainability and analyzed the real estate industry on the basis of sustainable development and concluded that there was a need for an assessment system based on the needs of Qatar and the region., All other solutions applied in GCC and MENA regions are imported and don’t comply with the society, culture, climate as well as other various environmental conditions which exist in the region.”.

"QSAS offers a lot of advantages which are not available in any other imported system. For instance, QSAS responds to urgent issues such as preserving the architectural identity of Qatar and the region, and enhancing the creative solutions to address other challenges like water scarcity and lack of non-hydrocarbon raw materials, in addition to its complete flexibility to respond to all environmental, social and economic issues of the Middle East region” he concluded. 

Since its inception, BQDRI has been organizing Training & Development workshops assuring its committee of its ability to lead sustainability in the Qatari real estate market. It may be noted that BDQRI has planned to conduct a QSAS Workshop in the end of May, in cooperation with experts and researchers from T.C. Chan Center for Building Simulations and Energy Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, USA. The workshop aims at empowering industry professionals with the necessary tools and means of sustainable development including: 

  • Training to become QSAS - CERTIFIED GREEN PROFESSIONAL™ to secure projects from Lusail Municipality and BARWA Real Estate, 
  • The latest knowledge and understanding of QSAS green building practices and principles, and how to apply them in Qatar and the region
  • Training in the QSAS procedures guide, tools, applications and assessment requirements, to guide the consultant to successfully complete the evaluation phases 
  • The necessary educational materials to support them during their training

Dr. Al-Horr called upon local and international companies to take the lead in training and qualifying their staff at all levels on the latest applications of QSAS in the field of green building design and adopting the professional practices that meet the environmental, cultural and social needs and priorities of Qatar and the region.

ASHGHAL & BQDRI Facing the Impacts Resulting from Built Environment 

The built environment, in Qatar and across the globe, contributes to air pollution, land use and contamination, fossil fuel and water depletion, water pollution, materials depletion, which have impacts on human health, and climate change. 

Water Consumption

Water consumption in Qatar, between 1900 and 2000, has increased dramatically and freshwater availability is decreasing at rapid rates, especially in Qatar and among the GCC countries. 

The natural water cycle is a system in which water resources are continuously exchanged between the atmosphere, soil water, surface water, ground water, and plants. This cycle treats and recharges fresh water supplies. Human consumption of fresh water, in Qatar, outpaces the natural cycle due to the scare of rainfall and limited aquifers capacity; and under these circumstances water cannot be considered a renewable resource.

Domestic water consumption accounts for a significant depletion of natural water resources. This includes personal consumption and household use. Other large contributors to water depletion include agriculture, which can infect the water supply with contaminants, and industrial processes that return water to fresh water supplies without proper treatment.

Energy Consumption in Qatar

According to the United Nations Statistic Division, relative to the size of Qatar’s economy, the country on a whole uses twice the amount of energy as the nations of Germany or Japan. The burning of fossil fuels for energy consumption leads to increased air pollution through carbon dioxide emissions. These emissions contribute in the climate change process at a large scale.

Materials Depletion

Most GCC countries rank in the top ten worldwide in terms of waste production per capita (Middle East Waste Summit, www.wastesummit.com).

There are significant environmental impacts associated with the extraction, processing, transportation, and use of materials. Natural resources are not infinitely renewable, therefore reducing the amount of raw materials consumed is important in establishing sustainable building practices. Reusing and recycling building materials and components diverts material from the waste stream and reduces the environmental impacts associated with producing new materials and products. Choosing local materials reduces the use of fossil fuels needed for the transportation of resources and supports the local economy.

The effective design and construction processes contribute in reducing the negative impacts of the built environment. It refers to any long-term changes in the Earth’s weather and atmospheric conditions and can have detrimental effects on natural landscapes, wildlife, and humans in Qatar. The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is a major factor related to recent climate change patterns. The burning of fossil fuels in particular has led to increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is considered a greenhouse gas because while it allows visible light from the sun to reach the Earth, it traps the reflected infrared radiation, leading to a warming of the atmosphere and climate change. As the concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases, more infrared radiation is trapped, leading to the warming of the atmosphere and climate change. 

"QSAS differs in its essence; it meets the needs of the GCC while other assessment systems depend on global imported systems, and this is an important step to develop and implement the sustainability concept locally and globally. In conclusion, QSAS is the source of preserving the architectural identity of Qatar and the region," Dr. Al-Horr concluded

“Our memorandum with ASHGHAL will open new horizons to implement QSAS on various governmental buildings. For example, we all notice the amount of waste in the freshwater used for washing in schools or mosques. There are techniques currently available for reusing this water in toilets and for irrigation purposes after it is efficiently purified to reach water quality to be a colourless, odourless and free from bacteria, it will be ready to be used in the areas mentioned above."

ASHGHAL partnership with QSAS and the Benefits of Responsible and Sustainable Design

The built environment has a direct impact on Qatar's natural environment, the economy and human health. These aspects can be improved by the way buildings are designed, constructed and operated – in other words, adapting Green building practices.

The following are potential benefits of green building practices:

Environmental Benefits

  • Enhance and conserve flora/fauna, biodiversity and ecosystems
  • Conserve and restore natural and non-renewable resources
  • Improve air, land and water quality
  • Increase energy efficiency while reducing greenhouse gas emissions
  • Reduce waste production

Economic Benefits

  • Reduce operating and maintenance costs
  • Create new opportunities and markets for green products and services
  • Improve occupant productivity
  • Faster occupancy rate and lower turnover rate

Social Benefits

  • Enhance human comfort and health
  • Reduce strain on local infrastructure
  • Improve quality of life
  • Preserve cultural identity

The criteria of QSAS are divided into eight categories, each with a direct impact on environmental stress mitigation and can measures a different aspect of the project’s environmental impact.

The ASHGHAL/BQDRI MOU focuses on challenges related directly to energy and water.

QSAS Emphasis on energy

The Energy category, that represents 24% of the total impact of the build environment in Qatar according to QSAS, consists of factors associated with energy demand of buildings, the efficiency of energy delivery, and the use of fossil energy sources that result in harmful emissions. QSAS considers the following impacts resulting from energy use and unsustainable practices in Qatar: 

  • Climate Change
  • Fossil Fuel Depletion
  • Air Pollution
  • Human Comfort & Health

To mitigate the impact of Energy on Qatar's environment, ASHGHAL and BQDRI, while deploying QSAS, should consider

  • Designing buildings to lower its energy demand
  • Selecting efficient building systems
  • Lowering the demand on non-renewable sources of energy thereby reducing harmful emissions and depletion of fossil fuels
  • Minimizing the amount of harmful substances produced by the energy delivery systems and the energy supply network

QSAS Emphasis on Water

The Water category, that represents 16% of the total impact of the build environment in Qatar according to QSAS, consists of factors associated with water consumption and its associated burden on municipal supply and treatment systems. The environmental impact resulting from water consumption and unsustainable practices is water depletion. To mitigate the environmental impact and lower, ASHGHAL and BQDRI, through QSAS, will consider the following: 

  • Specifying efficient plumbing fixtures.
  • Creating a system for the collection and storage of rainwater.
  • On-site treatment of water for later reuse.
  • Designing a landscaping plan that minimizes the need for irrigation.

QSAS Emphasis on Materials 

The Materials category consists of factors associated with material extraction, processing, manufacturing, distribution, use/re-use, and disposal. Environmental impacts resulting from material use and unsustainable practices include:

  • Materials Depletion
  • Climate Change
  • Fossil Fuel Depletion
  • Air Pollution
  • Human Comfort & Health

Factors that could mitigate environmental impact due to material use include:

  • Recycling and reusing materials, on and off site.
  • Using local materials to reduce transportation need.
  • Using responsibly sourced materials.
  • Designing for ease of disassembly and reuse/recycling.

QSAS Emphasis on Cultural & Economic Value

The Cultural and Economic Value category consists of factors associated with cultural conservation and support of the local economy. Impacts resulting from lack of cultural conservation and economic planning include:

  • Loss of cultural identity
  • Economic stagnancy or decline

Factors that could mitigate impact include:

  • Encouraging designs to align with cultural identity and traditions.
  • Designing for a seamless integration into the existing cultural fabric.
  • Planning for the use of local materials and workforce.

With a cumulative of 61% from the total impact of the built environment according to QSAS; with water 16%, energy 24%, material 8% and cultural & economical values 13%; the MOU between ASHGHAL and BQDRI should facilitate the deployment of QSAS in Qatar, and hence plant the seeds to entrench the importance of Responsible and Sustainable Design within the built-environment. More than 128 buildings in Qatar are under QSAS certification process

Following the adoption of green building principles by BARWA and Qatari Diar Real Estate Development Company for all their future projects, BQDRI started deploying QSAS amongst their projects. 

Sufficiently satisfying QSAS standards, testing criteria & other requirements; BQDRI honoured BARWA's "BARWA City Project" with accreditation as "QSAS – RATED GREEN PROJECT". 

Having BARWA City's 128 buildings accredited as "QSAS – RATED GREEN PROJECT" gave BARWA the advantage to become among the first few QSAS rated buildings that are notified as being GREEN. 

BARWA City is one of the largest projects being constructed in Qatar. The project, built on more than two and a half million square meters, offers residential units for more than thirty five thousand people. BARWA City will utilize district cooling plants to provide air conditioning, central gas network, and central TV channels system. The project offers apartments with diversified interior layouts to satisfy the different demands and needs of the tenants. It includes health clubs, commercial compounds, parks, playgrounds and multi-use buildings, banks, a 250-bed hospital, schools, nurseries and a hotel. The project will be completed in two phases, with 6,000 apartments including in Phase 1.

BARWA City received its QSAS Certification according to the following: 

  • BARWA City Phase 1 Residential Buildings’ Design has received a total score of One Star in Qatar Sustainability Assessment System (QSAS).
  • BARWA City Phase 1 comprises of 128 Apartment Buildings; 4 to 6 stories; and each apartment building will receive the QSAS certification.

QSAS, being the first of its kind performance-based sustainability rating system in the MENA region developed by BQDRI, is now amongst the top sustainability rating systems in relation to the number of certified projects. 

QSAS registered projects consists of 128 buildings in the State of Qatar, compared to 34 registered buildings under other rating systems. 

BQDRI & QSAS Inception

BQDRI first introduced QSAS as the "Middle East’s first performance-based Green Building Design Rating System” at the Global City Sustainable Urban Development Forum in Abu Dhabi in 2009. 

BQDRI confirms its commitment in continuing this march and supporting Qatar’s role as “the capital of sustainable development in the Middle East”, allowing Qatar to take the lead in addressing regional and national energy efficiency policies, reducing carbon emissions, minimizing ecological impacts, and ensuring high indoor environmental quality.

The BQDRI has announced the release of the first full version of QSAS that includes:

  1. QSAS Manuals 
  2. QSAS Tool Kit Suite 
  3. QSAS Project Management System

The BQDRI is a proud member of the United Nations Environment Program Sustainable Buildings & Climate Initiative (SBCI). The SBCI provides leadership and encourages partnership amongst all buildings and construction stakeholders to address sustainability issues of global significance, especially climate change, energy efficiency and CO2 emissions.

As part of its commitment to public awareness, the BQDRI has launched a comprehensive website dealing with issues related to sustainable development. www.bqdri.com.qa enables building professionals to check out the latest sustainable development news and download important research and advice for developers, building professionals and owners.

In support to its initiative and launch of the BQDRI website, the Research Institute demonstrated its belief in the concept of sustainability development within the construction industry through publishing the first e-newsletter for construction professionals and the public on sustainable development in Qatar to reach the globe. 

QSAS won the Award of Excellence for Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Development at the IREF Summit 2009, London, UK. The event was attended by leaders of real estate industry and financial services, as well as political and business figures. QSAS award was received by Dr. Al-Horr from Mrs. Liz Peace, CEO of British Property Federation.


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