One of the four pillars of Qatar National Vision 2030, the long-term development plan, is environmental sustainability. Under this goal, economic growth and social development must occur in such a way as to ensure environmental protection, securing the country’s achievements for future generations, as well as boosting the health and standard of living of existing residents. This has implications across the economy, including for the construction sector as Qatar has been tightening its environmental standards in recent years.
One of the key movers in the drive towards better environmental standards in construction is the Gulf Organisation for Research and Development (GORD). A part of the Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company, GORD is based at Qatar Science and Technology Park in Doha, but has extensive regional and international ties. Its regional alliances include the GCC Standardisation Authority, while its international links include the UN Environment Programme’s Sustainable Buildings and Climate Initiative.
GORD has been charged with developing performance standards, research and development (R&D), knowledge dissemination, and management of carbon emissions in Qatar, tasks which it performs through the GORD Trust, GORD Academy and GORD Institute. The trust is responsible for the administration of the Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS), a performance-based programme that has been developed for rating green buildings and infrastructure. This code, originally known as the Qatar Sustainability Assessment System, now forms part of a GCC-wide effort to establish a unified green code in the region.
The GORD Institute conducts R&D projects in areas that have a construction sector aspect, including investigation of green building materials. These projects look at reuse and recycling, an area that received a boost in Qatar with Lafarge’s contract to supply recycled aggregates for the construction of an oil refinery (see analysis). Finally, the GORD Academy works on spreading awareness and on professional development, licensing academy members as GSAS-Certified Green Professionals who possess up-to-date skills in green building and infrastructure implementation.
At the same time, Qatar Green Building Council, which is part of the Qatar Foundation, has a remit that covers both environmentally sustainable practices in green building design and development, and longer-term sustainability issues for the country as a whole.
Code Of Conduct
Much of these bodies’ work is now enshrined in Qatar’s construction code. This process began with Qatar Construction Specifications (QCS) 2010, which first brought in the Green Building Code. QCS 2014 then superseded this, introducing several new requirements. These include: the appointment of an environmental manager on construction projects; a requirement for recognised environmental management systems, such as ISO 14001:2004 being in place; a construction environmental management plan being produced by the contractor; and a range of other regulations on labour, health and safety, and emergency response. Contractors wishing to work in Qatar must now meet QCS 2014 requirements.
GORD is aware of the challenges this may involve. Cost is one, with the organisation willing to help offset this via incentive schemes. These can involve, for example, an additional allowance for a building’s footprint or number of storeys, if a contractor goes above and beyond the minimum standards required.
Qatar’s codes have also received international recognition. In November 2016 FIFA endorsed the use of GSAS for 2022 World Cup venues, placing sustainable development at the heart of the projects. Now, GORD is working on pan-GCC initiatives and a standardised code. The Gulf Green Mark programme is one of these, focusing on labelling green products based on their environmental footprints across the GCC region. This may see an increasing take up, as construction materials manufacturers seek to gain a competitive edge.