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The kingdom is on the verge of achieving what has never been done before: Building a mega smart city that will serve not just as a destination but as a sustainable living and working environment

NEOM – a futuristic linear city, as its founder, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman envisioned it as KSA’s bold move to reaffirm its commitment to environmental conservation. This is clearly demonstrated in the project’s deliberate design to ensure that the $500 billion city is solely made up of green buildings – a key component of building an eco-friendly habitat.

Tacked strategically in KSA’s Tabuk province, NEOM will serve as a prime example of why the world needs more sustainable habitats with green buildings and spaces. This will not only significantly slow down the adverse effects of climate change but also enhance the quality of living, stimulate economic growth and create countless opportunities for innovation, especially in emerging markets.

Green buildings are a rapidly growing concept across the globe. The idea is driven by global concerns about how reliance on fossil fuels to power residential and commercial buildings adversely affects the environment, people’s productivity, creativity and, most importantly, their well-being.

Benefits galore

This important flagship project is part of KSA’s long-term strategy to end its dependence on its oil revenues while diversifying its sources of income. However, green buildings or sustainable architecture will affect the country’s national development plan.

NEOM city and its dwellers will reap massive benefits, including an improved indoor and outdoor environment. Architects and interior designers involved in this project will prioritise the use and integration of sustainable building materials that will, in turn, help to improve the quality of life.

From interior design elements such as green lighting sources to upgraded air quality, shared resources, reduced operational cost and maintenance, energy efficiency, and efficient and sustainable building materials, NEOM city is expected to raise the living standards of its residents to levels never seen before in the region.

More importantly, NEOM will also serve as a practical example of using smart cities to enhance and protect biodiversity and ecosystems, reduce waste streams and conserve and restore natural resources – three crucial pillars that will improve future generations’ lives.

Climate concerns

The Middle East and North Africa’s per capita carbon emissions stood at 5.6 in 2019. According to Climate Watch, KSA emitted 723.15 million tons of CO2 equivalent in 2019, representing 1.45 percent of global emissions. After its completion, NEOM city will positively impact the country’s carbon footprint index thanks to sustainable architecture.

Quality input

Although the project is widely expected to shape the future of construction and interior design in the region, the quality standards of sustainable buildings should be the greater focus. Players in the regional construction sector must prioritise using sustainable raw materials even as they work towards delivering sustainable projects.

Adherence to quality standards is crucial in ensuring sustainable construction delivers its full potential from simple but equally essential materials such as adhesives and sealants to piece together great architectural designs. Workmanship to use complex green energy sources to power commercial and domestic utilities, construction companies, interior designers, and architects must also ensure that their projects are anchored firmly on quality and sustainable processes.

To enable the construction companies to deliver NEOM city, building material manufacturers and producers must also rise to the challenge by researching and developing sustainable raw materials. The focus should be on sustainable manufacturing processes, key ingredients, and their application and impact on the environment.

Regarding standards, the US Green Building Council-developed Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system will also play a crucial role in creating the NEOM smart city.

This rating system will further ensure that all key attributes, including the responsible siting of the building, minimising water and energy usage, responsible material sourcing and good indoor air quality, are achieved in the process. The Living Building Challenge (LBC, formulated in 2005) is another example of a green building construction rating system that enables NEOM to achieve net-zero energy and net-zero water – two key smart city components.

The holistic impact of the NEOM smart city will accelerate the country’s Vision 2030, which aims to reduce all types of pollution, safeguard the environment from natural threats and protect and rehabilitate natural resources. Growing the country’s sustainable construction projects will undoubtedly help achieve its goals: NEOM… is just the beginning!

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Emmanuel De Smedt

Quelle/Source: Arabian Business, 30.11.2022

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