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GORD launches GSAS as new benchmark for sustainable development, Mena Countries to benefit from GSAS and Kuwait signs MoU with GORD

Gulf Organization for Research and Development (GORD), the authority for knowledge on sustainability in the MENA region, has today 7th of June 2012 has launched the Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS) as the standard for excellence on sustainability in the MENA region. 

Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS) formerly known as Qatar Sustainability Assessment System (QSAS) is the most comprehensive sustainability rating system in the world. The change in Name came to support the all-inclusive offering of the system in assessing all types of developments starting from macro level such as master plans for cities to micro level such as single buildings. Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS) is unique in catering for specific typologies such as sports & mosques. 

GSAS looks into various types of typologies such as GSAS Core & Shell, GSAS Schools, GSAS Residential Single, GSAS Residential Group, GSAS Mosques, GSAS Hotels, GSAS Light Industries, GSAS Neighbourhoods, GSAS Construction, GSAS Operations, GSAS Health Care, GSAS Railways & others.

Dr. Yousef Mohammed Al-Horr, Founding Chairman of GORD, said: “The launch of the Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS/QSAS) is a huge step forward in our mission to promote sustainable applications and practices within the framework of a globalised society. We have conducted in-depth studies of 40 green building codes from around the world in order to develop a truly comprehensive and genuinely global-oriented assessment scheme. GSAS/QSAS embarks on creating a new standard for sustainable benchmarking in green building developments.

GSAS/QSAS has recently been incorporated Qatar Construction Specification 2010 as chapter 7 “Green Construction”.

Ministry of Environment launched the fourth edition of Qatar Construction Specifications, QCS 2010, specifying a series of measures to pave way for green buildings and gardens in the country and to ensure safety of construction workers.  Making the announcement at a formal ceremony held at Marriott Hotel, the Assistant Under- Secretary for Laboratories and Standardisation at the MoE Dr. Mohammed bin Saif Al Kuwari said: “The launch of the new specifications will have far reaching results as all new government buildings such as mosques, schools and hospitals, being approved from December 31 onwards will have to adhere strictly to the green building specifications.” It is worth mentioning that Ashghal, in several occasions, has announced  its commitment to apply GSAS along all future government projects. Such commitment is considered as a great achievement for GORD “GSAS" since Ashghal is considered to be the first governmental institution to adopt GSAS completely. He added that many  mandatory requirements for private constructions are that they must employ energy and water saving measures, reduce solid waste and wastewater and improve indoor environment to safeguard public health.

Dr. Al Horr commented: “incorporating GSAS/QSAS within Qatar Construction Specifications (QCS 2010), provides a clear blueprint for sustainable building development in the country, which will ultimately help ensure a much higher quality of life in Qatar.

Countries in the MENA region, such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan & Sudan, are showing great interest to study the adoption of GSAS/QSAS as the unified code for the region. Al Horr said, “Our goal now is to enable other countries and global institutions to benefit from the GSAS as a reliable performance-based and quantifiable sustainability rating system.”

Saudi Arabia was the first to invite GCC countries to benefit from GSAS during the Saudi First Green Building Forum held under the patronage of his Excellency Prince Dr. Mansour bin Miteb bin Abdulaziz, Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs, in Riyadh in 2010. Dr. Mansour explained that Green Building Concept is not limited to environmentally friendly building materials only but it puts together a comprehensive vision for the future of the modern house while preserving the Saudi identity of ancient fathers and grandparents. It is worth mentioning that the Saudi Green Building Forum concluded with the suggestion of renaming Qatar Sustainability Assessment System (QSAS) to Gulf Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS).

Following the success story in many GCC countries, Kuwait announced their interest to adopt GSAS during the launch of Kuwait Green Building Forum which was inaugurated under his auspicious Excellency Minister of Public Works and Minister of State for Planning & Development Affairs Dr Fadhel Safer Ali Safar earlier this year in May. Minister Safar emphasized in his opening speech that the forum aims to raise awareness about eco-friendly buildings, local & international efforts to fight global warming & protect the environment. Moreover, Dr Safar stated that the patronage of Kuwait First Green Build Forum was the result of his pure conviction and enlightenment of the event’s high significance and important valuable goals.

In an interview with Al Watan Newspaper, Minister Safar added, “Ashghal, Municipality & concerned ministries show great interest in applying green building best practices within developments in Kuwait on the macro level as well micro level”. He added: “lately we have adopted Global Sustainability assessment system (GSAS/QSAS) as the national code for green building developments in Kuwait." The system takes into consideration the climate and geographical aspects of Gulf countries and its natural resources.  Ashghal has already incorporated GSAS/ QSAS in one of its recently developed projects. Minister Safar emphasized that his main concern in the mean time is to spread the knowledge of Green Building best practices among people & how to be environmentally friendly by, saving energy, conserving water consumption, utilizing eco-friendly materials & preserving natural resources.

Furthermore, Eng. Alia Al-Sayegh,  Chairman of Green Buildings Technical Team – National Committee of Building Codes , demonstrated team work mechanism and its expertise which carved the way to adopt Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS/QSAS) by Kuwait government and endorse it in its building rules in order to move the country forward with the green movement.

As conference delegates and representatives of Kuwait public & private sectors listened intently, Dr. Yousef AlHorr outlined how GSAS/QSAS, the Middle East’s first and only performance-based sustainability rating system, addressed the unique cultural and environmental challenges of GCC countries. AL Horr shed light on the challenges in the design and implementation of buildings, especially on environment, public health and climate change, underlining the role of sustainability-driven design practices in reducing pollution and protecting the environment and natural resources. He also emphasized the importance of GSAS/QSAS saying that it is a cornerstone to environmental security, economic growth and social development in Arabian Gulf, Middle East & North Africa.

Dr Yousef commented “Without doubt GSAS/QSAS is the GCC’s sustainable development solution. The   system addresses sustainability goals specific to the region & also meets the toughest international standards. The built environment, in GCC and across the globe, contributes to air pollution, land use and contamination, fossil fuel and water depletion, water pollution, materials depletion, impacts on human health, and climate change. Responsible design, construction and building operations can mitigate the negative effects of the built environment. GSAS/QSAS focuses on local needs and implements the best practices taking into consideration the region’s social, economic, environmental and cultural conditions which are different from other parts of the world. Issues such as desertification, scarcity of water and cultural identity were approached in a way which suits the region.” He called upon all Gulf countries to adopt this system and to take daring steps in implementing Green Building culture.

Following his call, Kuwait responded by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Gulf Organization for Research and Development (GORD). The memorandum took place on Wednesday, the 23rd of May, 2012.

The signing of this MoU between Kuwait and GORD comes in line with the shared vision of promoting the adoption of the concept of sustainability in Qatar and in Kuwait, it also serves as a knowledge transfer, and spreads the concept of sustainability and implement a range of projects and research initiatives in various areas related to sustainable building to achieve the common goal of promoting sustainable development in Qatar and in Kuwait. However, these goals are achieved through:

Common effort to implement the standards of GSAS/QSAS in order to develop sustainable (or green) building practices and encourage optimum consumption of energy and water and natural resources. Moreover, based on Kuwait Municipality quest, GORD is providing technical support for the development of Kuwait Municipality building applying GSAS/QSAS framework.
Contribution to the field of research and development about environmental issues that are of mutual interest.
Collaboration in the field of practice and individual development is represented through collaboration with Kuwait officials and resulting that GORD is hosting a GSAS CGP workshop in Kuwait city.
Cooperation to develop standard qualities of green building materials and system.

Al Horr expressed his intense interest in the memorandum: “it is a perfect opportunity to share expertise and latest knowledge and information on various green building and sustainability best practices that help construction professionals face emerging challenges in urban development."

GSAS/QSAS has already been adopted in Qatar following a landmark government directive requiring all new buildings to adhere to GSAS/QSAS standards. The System has likewise served as a definitive point of reference for other international rating schemes and has generated huge global interest following the launch in the UK of “The International Journal of Sustainable Built Environment”, a bi-annual scientific periodical that addresses a number of areas within the built environment sphere inspired by the GSAS/QSAS initiative.

The Gulf Organisation for Research and Development is a leading organization entirely owned by the Qatari DIAR and aims to position Qatar as the capital of green building. It leads efforts to make a difference within the construction industry by promoting sustainable building standards and eco-friendly practices. It has outlined its vision to strengthen Qatar’s position as a leader in the field of sustainable development, design and construction, through the promotion of scientific research in collaboration with major local, regional and international organizations, research institutions, technology-oriented consultancies, real estate and construction companies and government authorities to find effective solutions for various environmental challenges and to ensure socioeconomic stability.