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Real Lead 4cIt is estimated that more than 70% of the world’s population will be living in urban areas by 2050. This has led to an increased global focus on ‘Green Urban Projects’ – high-performing structures that are designed, built and maintained in the most energy efficient manner possible.

The construction materials used in these projects include electromechanical, thermal and moisture-based products, double-glazed windows, solar panel roofing and improved energy rated appliances – all of which serve to improve the structure’s durability and efficiency.

The benefits of employing green construction practices include:

Maintenance and energy costs associated with green buildings are 15 to 20% lower compared to conventional structures, primarily due to reduced utility bills.

People living or working in these buildings enjoy a better quality of life due to improved air quality (because of reduced toxic emissions) and natural lighting.

Despite these positives, adopting green construction pose certain challenges:

The initial cost of construction is five to 10% higher compared to projects employing standard construction practices, although experts say these costs can be recovered from reduced utility bills within two to three years.

Lack of government incentives and public awareness programmes to promote sustainable construction technologies.

Contractors using non-biodegradable (lead-based) raw materials during the construction phase as they are cheaper, and their use maximises their ROI.

If green construction practices become the norm in Pakistan, it would ease the energy crisis, as commercial and residential buildings currently use more than 50% of the total energy produced in the country. To this end, the Pakistan Green Building Council, an NGO, is playing a crucial role by striving to popularise sustainable building designs. Several MOUs have been signed with professionals and organisations from the local construction industry to develop environmentally-friendly buildings, as well as infrastructural guidelines that can be implemented in future urban planning projects; one such project has been announced in Karachi and it will be the first of its kind in Pakistan.

– Ibrahim Murad
The writer is a consultant engineer.

First published in the Real Estate Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on April 19, 2015.