How Alpin contributes to building some of the world’s most sustainable cities one building at a time

Sustainability is a word that encompasses a wide spectrum and has many different interpretations. So, what does it truly mean and how can you measure it when it comes to cities?

In 2016, renowned consultants ARCADIS, in collaboration with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) produced a Sustainable Cities Index  that looked at cities’ social components (the quality of life of inhabitants), environmental factors and economic prerequisites and rated them from highest to lowest. They summarized these three factors under the terms people, planet and profit.

At the top of the list was Zurich as the world’s most sustainable city. The report cited the city’s focus on sustainable buildings as one of the reasons it ranked number one in the planet category. But what’s important to note is that such buildings also make life better for a city’s inhabitants, likely giving Zurich a higher score on the people category as well.

Next in the list was London and the report cited infrastructure such as the Thames Tideway Tunnel as a key cause for its high rating. Finally, third on the list was Shanghai with its urban regeneration and innovation hubs.

As different as the cities were, they shared one thing in common: a sustainable approach to the built environment that took into account all the facets of the impact that approach has on the city, from energy use to resource management to air quality.

This approach is complemented by Industry 4.0, the fourth industrial revolution. This is a movement to combine traditional manufacturing with the latest smart technology. It includes machine to machine communication and Internet of Things deployment with the end result being smart machines that don’t need human intervention to optimize their processes.

This means that the management of many critical resources such water and energy are now programmed in our appliances and furthermore in our buildings. Sustainability has been revolutionized to be ingrained in all that surrounds us.

We are also witnessing the emergence of smart cities. The European Commission defines a smart city as a “place where traditional networks and services are made more efficient with the use of digital and telecommunication technologies for the benefit of its inhabitants and business.”

Smart cities encompass everything from sustainable urban mobility to sustainable districts to integrated planning and management. They make life better for their residents by providing both services and an environment that improves their everyday experience.

In smart cities, everything is connected in an intelligent way that allows for the collection of data that can be used to do everything from improve energy distribution to decrease traffic congestion. Imagine a car that can communicate with parking meters to find the next available slot or a mobile phone that also serves as a driver’s license and ID card. All these things and more are possible in smart cities. Smart cities are also primarily sustainable cities because one of their key goals is to effectively manage resources.

What are the region’s most sustainable cities?

The index also included some Middle Eastern cities in its mix. Dubai was ranked 52nd on the index citing partially its Integrated Energy Strategy action plan, which aims to reduce energy demand by 30% by 2030. It should be noted that Dubai also has plans to join the fourth industrial revolution with its Smart Dubai Project run by Her Excellency Dr. Aisha Bin Bishr, Director General of Smart Dubai Office. Finally, Abu Dhabi and Kuwait made the list on the 58th and 70th spots.

How does Alpin contribute to sustainable cities?

At Alpin we truly believe in sustainable cities and luckily, we have the tools to make them happen. How do we do this?

For starters, our green and wellness certifications take a comprehensive holistic approach to communities, infrastructure, and buildings ensuring that our structures do everything from save energy to provide a healthy and pleasant environment for their occupants.

Take LEED for instance; the certification requires its participants to monitor data for 14 metrics including energy, water, waste, transportation, education, equitability, prosperity and health and safety. LEED for Cities offers another alternative approach to apply sustainability on a wider scale through the implementation of the standard on a masterpan level rather than on an individual asset basis. We have seen such an approach reap massive benefits through our project in Saudi Arabia, a 50 square-kilometer energy city megaproject that Alpin was proud to collaborate on.

WELL is the world’s first building standard that focuses exclusively on human health and wellness. It optimizes a building’s air, water, nourishment, light, movement, thermal comfort, sound, materials, and community.

Estidama considers water, energy, waste, material, indoor air quality, outdoor thermal comfort and natural systems, to ensure the best practices are combined to provide a healthy and comfortable environment for users. The system minimizes the consumption of water, energy and waste and encourages the use of local materials in order to also improve supply chains.

Mostadam, Saudi Arabia’s local building rating system, has a communities section that “ applies to the public realm of development, defined as the areas where the public has free access such as streets, squares, open spaces and parks.” The system seeks to make not only buildings sustainable but the entire structures and infrastructures that surround them as well. To find out more about Mostadam read here: Mostadam Green Building System

And those are just a few of the certifications we provide. We also use energy modelling to spot and implement innovative energy solutions, which help save resources and operational costs in the long-run.

Most importantly, through our Building Auditing and Commissioning teams,  we are able to ensure that sustainable best practices are built into the final product from the very beginning. This is how we get the best results on a project, including enhanced returns on investments.

Once a project has been built our operational efficiency services ensure it never fails to perform. We undertake regular consultations to guarantee sustainability continues to be part of every step of a building’s functioning and make sure all our client’s needs are met.

This can be witnessed first hand on our many projects such as the Museum of the Future, the Riyadh Metro Package, the Amaala Airport, the Bee’ ah Headquarters and the Royal Atlantis.

We believe that our approach works and we are happy to be contributing to making the region’s cities more sustainable, one building at a time.

To see more of our projects and what role we played in their construction visit: Case Studies by Alpin

Written by Loukia Papadopoulos