Vision 2030

Green Building in Saudi Arabia: What the Industry Looks Like in 2020

What is the state of green building in Saudi Arabia? If you’re wondering what green building looks like in Saudi Arabia and where the industry is headed in the future, look no further. Today, you’ll learn exactly what green building in Saudi Arabia is all about (and the rapid changes that lie ahead). Curious to learn more? Read on!

How Saudi Arabia is positioning itself as a leader in green building

First things first: What is green building? Green building is all about constructing modern buildings that are both environmentally friendly and self-sustaining.

And this is the future of the construction industry. After all, green buildings perform better than other buildings.

As studies show:

  • Green buildings are rented and sold at higher prices.
  • There’s more commercial interest in green buildings, for example in the form of financing.
  • If implemented in the design stages, green buildings reduce construction costs.
  • Green buildings have lower maintenance costs and save resources like energy and water.

Plus, with the challenges created by global warming, the construction industry, which is one of the world’s most polluting industries, has to come up with more sustainable solutions.

The best part? Developing green buildings doesn’t even have to come at a higher price. Green buildings cost the same or even less than other buildings.

But what does the industry look like in Saudi Arabia? Green building in Saudi Arabia is a relatively new sector. It got its start with the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified building in 2009.

As our Country Manager in Saudi Arabia, Yousef Zakaria, who has seen the change happen in real-time, puts it:

“The industry started around 2008 with the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Jeddah. It was the first LEED-certified project in Saudi Arabia. Since then, other projects started following the same path, although they were limited to government projects.”

But over the past few years, the industry has made big advances. For example, 15% of all green building projects in the Arab world are implemented in Saudi Arabia. The investments that Saudi Arabia makes in green buildings are the biggest of their kind worldwide.

At Alpin, our mission has always been to work for a more sustainable world. For example, we were the first LEED Gold certified project in Masdar City, where we’re headquartered. Our headquarters are also the first WELL certified project in the Middle East.

As green building consultants in Saudi Arabia, we’ve been at the forefront of the change that’s happening in Saudi Arabia. For example, we’ve been involved in projects like the Riyadh metro, SABB headquarters, King Khalid International Airport, the Pepsi Cola Mega plant, Nahdi Warehouse, Asharqia Chamber of Commerce tower and many other projects for Saudi Aramco.

Thanks to having been so closely involved in key projects over the past 10 years, we’ve seen change happen right in front of us – and we know more is to come. Here are our best insights on where the industry is going in the future.

The impact of Vision 2030

The Saudi Vision 2030 establishes Saudi Arabia’s vision and goals for its policy-making over the next decades. In connection with each of its main themes (a vibrant society, a thriving economy, and an ambitious nation), the paper makes plenty of references to sustainability.

In May 2018, Saudi Arabia launched one of the Vision 2030 realization programs, The Quality of Life Program 2020. The program targets high-quality and affordable housing, embedded within efficient, green, and environmentally-friendly urban landscaping. This indicates that the green building industry will continue to grow in the Kingdom.

LEED certification in Saudi Arabia

LEED is in a special position in Saudi Arabia because the country has the highest concentrations of Gold and Platinum LEED-certified buildings in the Middle East.

The LEED certification, which is developed by the US Green Building Council (USGBC), is one of the most popular green building certification programs globally. It includes rating systems for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of green buildings, homes, neighborhoods, and cities.

As green buildings in general, the ROI of LEED builds on factors like the energy savings a project achieves and higher building valuations.

Particularly, we’ve seen that there’s clearly more interest in LEED today compared to even a few years ago. For example, the SPARK (ARAMCO) project, which we talk more about below, shows this.

What is the future of green building in Saudi Arabia?

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is increasingly focusing on smart and green buildings. With Vision 2030 objectives, mega projects, supporting events, and numerous initiatives by the Ministry of Housing, Saudi Arabia is set to continue growing its green building sector.

The country is currently building a megacity, NEOM, which is a Vision 2030 initiative. The city is planned to be completely powered by renewable energy. Another is Aramco’s King Salman Energy Park (SPARK), which is the first LEED pre-certified industrial city in the world.

King Salman Energy Park (SPARK) is a new mega project developed by Saudi Aramco. SPARK will be a fully integrated city. It’s designed for efficient and sustainable operations in an integrated world-class energy hub.

As GBCI puts it, “It is master planned to seamlessly intertwine an industrial area, dry port and logistics zone, with vibrant residential, educational, and commercial areas. By using an integrative planning and design process, sustainability is embedded in its development from the very first planning phases all the way through completion and management of the project.”

At Alpin, we recently participated in the reception ceremony held by the USGBC in Atlanta, USA during the Greenbuild conference for the purpose of awarding SPARK the LEED pre-certification for cities and communities.

This rating system (LEED for cities and communities) helps cities and communities to develop responsible, sustainable and specific plans for natural systems, energy, water, waste, transportation and many other factors that contribute to the quality of life.

By achieving pre-certification under LEED v4.1 for Cities and Communities: Plan and Design ahead of full certification, the project will share key project details and planning initiatives throughout the development process.

As Yousef puts it: “Certifying cities like SPARK under LEED for cities and communities rating systems will encourage other cities to follow the lead and get LEED-certified as a city.”

As you can see, projects like SPARK will continue to take green building in Saudi Arabia to the next level.

Want to learn more?

There you have it. Now you know what the green building sector looks like in Saudi Arabia.

Green building in Saudi Arabia is changing fast as the country continues to position itself as a leader in the industry. This role will only grow in importance over the next few years when the Kingdom continues to implement the Saudi Vision 2030.

Want to learn more about the projects we’re working on in the Saudi green building sector? Read all about it here.