By: Heba Eid
The ‘going green’ bandwagon has been slowly making the rounds with new ideas of impactful ways to save our planet emerging every day. Environmental responsibility and long-term sustainable solutions have become a necessity, with the world trying to combat global warming with its consequences, and ensure resource availability for all. Now the worldwide trend towards going green has shifted to real estate, where a green building signifies a property that is built with an environmentally friendly process, energy and resource efficient. While the environmental aspects are key champions of green buildings, the economic benefits of a sustainable green shift are weighing heavily in its favor.
In September 2015, the world’s nations agreed to adopt a set of 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs). Egypt affirmed its commitment to meet the targets set by SDGs by 2030 and outlined a 15-year development strategy, according to Daily News Egypt. The SDGs, spearheaded by the United Nations, include resilient, stable, and sustainable infrastructure as one of its goals, thus, the green building landscape is expected to soar in the upcoming years.
In fact, the green building market has experienced tremendous growth globally in the past decade. The global real estate buildings double approximately every three years, according to World Green Building Trends 2016 SmartMarket Report by Dodge Data & Analytics.
Environmental Reasons for Building Green
Building green properties has a broad range of environmental advantages, with reducing energy consumption at the top of the list. Protecting natural resources, reducing water consumption, lowering greenhouse gas emission to lessen the impact of global warming, and improving indoor air quality are all global reasons for governments and developers choosing to prioritize building green.
According to the United Nations, Egypt is facing a series of environmental challenges that need to be addressed. With the steady population growth, there’s less water per capita each year and, on top of that, lack of quality sanitation systems. Climate change risks the available water resources, coastal zones, and our agriculture sector.
As the most populous Arab state, with a continuously growing population and a finite resources pool, Egypt is particularly vulnerable to the effects of global warming and climate change. The economic, social, and environmental cornerstones of the nation will be undermined by the unsustainable use of energy resources, according to a World Resource Institute report. Many governorates are already feeling the pain of scarce water supply, and the UN predicts that by 2025 Egypt will face an absolute water crisis, according to Mada Masr—all the more reason for Egypt to start building property with long-term sustainability in mind.
The Economics of Green Buildings
An environmentally friendly and green building does not only lessen the overall environmental impact, but it has been proven to boost profits for developers, landlords, and tenants, according to Wealth Management. A green building often results in reduced operational expenses compared to conventional buildings, boosting profits for developers and landlords. Residents of such buildings will experience health improvements, making them an ideal choice for businesses, as they will command higher productivity and employee retention.
According to the SmartMarket Report, 14% savings in operational costs are expected over a five-year period for new green buildings, and an estimated 13% in savings for retrofitting and renovating buildings. The real estate value of a green building outweighs its conventional counterpart by 7%, making it economically appealing all around.
Egypt and the Green Real Estate
KarmBuild, a subsidiary of KarmSolar, is an architectural design and building firm with a focus on energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable building designs. Since its establishment in 2011, KarmBuild remains the only company in Egypt to incorporate solar energy technology into building design.
There are many rewards to designing sustainable and energy-efficient buildings, according to KarmBuild’s website. A green building is an economically sound investment, with potential long-term savings compared to conventionally designed buildings. Living or working in an environmentally friendly property allows owners to engage with the area’s local culture, history, and identity. Moreover, it will allow an owner to meet fair trade health, safety, and housing standards, and fulfil the requirements of international certification, such as Global GAP Certification and LEED.
Current Green Buildings in Egypt
Noting that there are several levels of green buildings, beginning with energy efferent lighting to a 100% eco-friendly construction, the notion of green buildings in Egypt is a rare occurence, with the concept being relatively new to the market. There are several projects on the ground that currently employ sustainable and green solutions to some extent.
KarmBuild has implemented numerous projects with sustainable and eco-friendly solutions—namely KarmSolar Campus in Bahreya Oasis, Workers Village, and a high-end coastal eco-lodge project, according to their website. Solar energy powers all of the projects above, and employ cost-effective and healthy housing solutions.
The American University in Cairo (AUC) has successfully built its Faculty Housing whilst employing green concepts in design and structure, according to the AUC website. Solar water heaters, environmentally friendly, non-CFC cooling refrigerant for air conditioners, rooftop farming on the green roof, and electricity efficient LED light bulbs are foundational elements of AUC’s green faculty housing building.
Moreover, the coast of Nuweiba in South Sinai boasts of many eco-lodges in the area, such as Basata Camp, Habiba Camp and Organic Farm, and many others, according to Invest-Gate. Likewise, the Siwa Oasis is home to several sustainable and eco-friendly lodges, such Adrere Amellal and Hawyet Siwa.
Upcoming Sustainable Projects
Several projects on the horizon intend to embed green concepts in design and structure in the real estate sector in Egypt.
Egypt’s mega project, the New Administrative Capital, promises to deliver the biggest Smart City in the Middle East to the expected five million people, according to its website. The Administrative Capital will make use of state-of-the-art sustainable technologies that are compliant with international standards and criteria. Moreover, the infrastructure of the city will be built to reuse and conserve water, further classifying it as a green building.
Crystal Lagoons, a patented technology developer of giant crystalline lagoons, has joined forces with numerous real estate developers in Egypt to bring forth man-made lagoons, according to Arab Finance. The company teamed up with Maxim Real Estate to develop a $1.8 billion project, Bo Islands development on the North Coast. Another project in North Coast is the Swanlake North Coast project developed with Porto Group, a $345 million investment. Sharm El Sheikh will witness the launch of the $500 million CityStars development, while a $250 million development, Sokhna Mountains, is set to launch in Ain Sokhna.
The aforementioned projects are to be built using Crystal Lagoons’ sustainable and green technology. Crystal Lagoons boasts an energy-efficient ultrasonic filtration system, which uses only 2% of the energy required by conventional filtration systems. Therefore, it ensures the lowest levels of energy and water consumption compared to any other amenity.
The Saudi Egyptian Construction Company (SECON) is currently developing a residential project in New Cairo over an area of 68 acres. Approximately 25% of the buildings will run on solar-powered electricity, according to Darwish Ahmed Hassanin, CEO of SECON, reported Worldfolio.
Mountain View, an Egypt-based real estate developer, along with the Saudi Arabian developer Sisban Holding and the Ministry of Housing, are developing Mountain View iCIty. iCity is set to be built in accordance with to world-class environmental standards, with smart solutions to separate human traffic from automotive traffic, with the inclusion of no-car zones, according to Arabian Business. Furthermore, the project will also feature pioneering sustainability technology for the new villa concepts, iVillas.
As a young and continuously growing nation, with an abundance of solar energy, projected scarcity of water and resources, and a booming real estate sector, building green has been deemed necessary for the long-term prosperity of the nation. Egypt has a natural advantage due to its location with year-round sunshine and high intensity of sunlight, makes it an ideal candidate for solar-powered buildings—a largely untapped market as yet. With the real estate market constituting a pivotal aspect of the country’s economy, and a driving force for Egypt’s growth, property developers can pave the path for true sustainability for generations to come.