HH Emir’s vision inspires Qatar to make confident strides to become the Capital of Green Building
Gulf Organization for Research and Development (GORD) the authority for knowledge on sustainability, has launched Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS) Version 2.0, with advanced features that enhance the sustainability of national projects of all types and levels.
The new GSAS version includes various new outstanding features, such as a railroad projects assessment system – the first of its kind in the world, and a system to assess urban planning and another to assess health facilities, including hospitals and medical centres, in addition to an assessment system for parks and public spaces.
The new version also comprises an assessment system for sport facilities, enabling users to handle open stadiums air conditioning using traditional and non-traditional methods, as well as renewable energy, in line with FIFA 2022 requirements. It also witnessed the launch of the GSAS gate – one of the latest, state-of-the-art project management systems in the field of green buildings, as it allows all parties of a real estate project to register their projects and monitor the progress of their assessment while exchanging opinions and suggestions online through an integrated paperless electronic environment, consistent with sustainability requirements that aim at protecting natural resources. The GSAS new version covers the launch of various new training programs that target professionals and those working in the real estate sector, in accordance with their specialties, where special courses will be held for engineers in the fields of energy, civil, architecture, electric and mechanical engineering. Version 2.0 of GSAS includes a testing platform that enables holding GSAS computer-based tests in approved test centres around the world, to make it easier for participants in training courses outside Qatar while saving them the costs of travelling to the country.
A final distinctive feature in the new version is “GSAS Publication Series”, a move to provide all scientific references and technical evidence of GSAS on Amazon, as well as international publishing houses to facilitate access to information and enabling everyone to receive the organization’s publications in an easy, affordable way, which would effectively support GORD’s globalization goals.
Commenting on the launch, Dr Yousef Al Horr, Founding Chairman, GORD commented, “The GSAS system, with all the new additions and forms, represents the most comprehensive global assessment system, We work constantly with our strategic partners on the local level and with experts in the most renowned research centres, in order to continue advancing our systems to cope the rapid developments and progress witnessed in Qatar, under the visionary leadership of His Highness Qatar’s Emir and Crown Prince. The new version of GSAS makes it the most comprehensive system in the world.”
Assessment of open, air-conditioned stadiums
This system is an upgraded version of the one launched in cooperation with the Olympic Committee during the Environment and Sport Conference in 2011. Additions were made to enable the system to handle the issue of air conditioning in open stadiums through a scientific approach, which represents a huge technical challenge. For the first time, a simulator model is built from an environmentally sustainable perspective. Commenting on this aspect, Dr Al Horr said: “we are proud of the GSAS, being the only system in the world that is designed to assess sports facilities and meet the needs of stadiums and pitches in 2022. It provides the ability to deal with air-conditioning matters in open-air stadiums, which represents an unprecedented challenge on all levels. With this achievement, we hope that we made a significant scientific contribution that reinforces Qatar’s position in the field.”
Railroad assessment system
This system is the first of its kind in the world and is the most comprehensive system that has been developed by GORD’s experts to offer various exceptional features in the field of railroad development. Among those features is the ability to evaluate the efficiency of modern energy-saving methods against financial costs, while enabling users to apply sustainability standards in early design stages.
In his comments on the railroad assessment addition, Dr Al Horr said: “Railroad projects represent Qatar’s main option in public transport, where investments worth US 40 billion are to be invested, highlighting the need of this system being introduced for the first time. It depends on a set of subjective measures that can be applied on the railroad network. Once applied, the system will cover all over-ground and underground stations and the railway networks.
Health facilities’ assessment system
The new version also comprises a system for assessing health facilities, such as hospitals and medical centres, where all developed countries recently started applying sustainability standards considering the highly sensitive aspects of those projects and their significant impact on health and environment. Among the most prominent standards are ways of handling harmful and toxic waste, and the ability to control the internal environment to provide patients with optimal conditions while controlling infections. In this regard, Dr Al Horr said: “According to recent official statements, Qatar is planning to establish 9 hospitals and 18 medical centres, which would hopefully benefit from the system and apply it on a wide scale. We have already seen the trend starting, with 5 new medical centres being registered for GSAS-compliant design, and we are looking forward to widen the initiative to cover major hospitals as well. This would make Qatar the only country that developed a specific system that is practically applied.”
Parks and public spaces assessment system
GSAS’ initiative to develop a special system is a unique step, even on the international level. Countries typically adopt such systems through different entities and not those concerned with sustainability, leading to several procedural problems upon designing and managing those projects. Based on detailed studies conducted by GORD, a decision was taken to develop this system that forms common grounds for eliminating such problems faced by many countries. Dr Al Horr commented: “We hope to see sustainable public parks in the near future, to be the first step towards instilling sustainability concepts in the public opinion. Young children and family members will be aware of such concepts when visiting these places and practice methods of saving water and going on picnics amid local plants that resist the harsh conditions. They will also witness practical applications of renewable energy lighting, which ensures awareness through an enjoyable experience.”
An advanced project management system
Among additions to the second version of GSAS is a new system to manage project assessment, adopting GSAS that replaces the currently applied system. The new version will be able to handle projects outside Qatar, adding a globalized dimension to the system that is based on a modern, comprehensive electronic environment that is designed for paperless, electronic operation. Certificates in this aspect have been recently awarded to various institutions and individuals in Jordan after completing GSAS training requirements, and the system is set for modification soon in order to be in line with Jordan’s climate and environmental requirements, before the application of GSAS.
GSAS professional tests on the international level
Participants in training courses are usually subject to paper-based tests in Qatar, which represents a financial and logistic burden on many participants from the Gulf, Europe, Far East or other region, beside the narrow options offered, since tests were held on a few occasions annually, which might not always be suitable to participants. For better flexibility and more efficiency, GORD made a strategic partnership with Prometric Inc. for test development and computer-based delivery of CGP exams, through its approved centres around the world. Trainees may contact the centre in their country and arrange to take the test in the best time that first into their schedule, offering the highest levels of privacy. The Qatar Financial Centre’s Academy is the approved testing centre in Qatar. “This is another important step for GSAS, as we place the convenience of professionals willing to get involved in our training programs as a top priority. From now on, trainees can determine the place and time to take the test without having to refer to us,” said Dr Al Horr.
A new suite of professional development programmes
Considering the huge scale of GSAS application in Qatar, and the continuous development of its content and disciplines, there were several calls for increasing the numbers and varieties of training programs to enhance the efficiency of local and international consultancy firms, as well as professionals working in the construction field and the government sector. The new version responded by introducing several training programs in various disciplines for engineers, technicians and professionals, with courses held for mechanical, energy, electric, architecture, construction, environment engineering and project management, in addition to others. Those programmes will be announced later through GORD’s website, offering the option of online registration and payment by credit cards or personally at the organization’s headquarters in QSTP.
GSAS application in Qatar real estate projects
According to numbers published in 2012, GSAS is witnessing an unprecedented expansion in applying sustainability criteria through various projects. The total area of cities amounts to 500 million square feet, putting Qatar among the world’s most advanced countries in terms of application in cities. Those cities include Lusail and the Ministry of Interior’s city Lekhwiya, and Barwa city. On the side of major developments, there is a total area of 12 million square foot, including new major shopping malls, like Doha Festival City, Bin Tawar Mall and North Gate, in addition to others. Separate and standalone buildings include more than 300 projects, with a total area of 30 million square feet and comprising commercial towers, schools, medical centres, mosques and towers, being developed in an open-space design in various areas of Doha. The following illustrates percentages and types of projects.
Dr. Al Horr concluded: “We are very pleased about the great initiatives made by various institutions in Qatar to apply GSAS, which is evidence to increased concern in sustainability, and better awareness towards protecting natural resources to ensure they remain sustainable for the next generations. We in Qatar are making confident strides towards our ultimate goal, to make Qatar the capital of green building.”