The Third International Conference on Sustainable Construction and Project Management (ICSCPM) concludes its three-day discussion of 22 themes, such as Facility Management, Building Information Modeling, Governance, Sustainable Asset Management, Sustainable Design and Construction Techniques, Rating Systems for Green Communities, Artificial Intelligence Models, Information and Communication Technologies for Smart Cities, and Internet of Things Solutions for Smart Cities.

Additionally, the ICSCPM has had five workshops on several topics: From Ordinary To Smart Buildings, Smart Economy, Management of Smart Transportation System, Smart Governance, and Smart Management of Construction and Demolition Violations. The conference includes the inauguration of the Egypt Green Building Exhibition (EGBEX), with the participation of the National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA) as a key partner of the conference.

In this context, Yasmine Fouad, Egypt’s Minister of Environment, inaugurates the ICSCPM, organized by the Ministry of Housing, Utilities, and Urban Communities, and under the auspices of Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly. In her speech, Fouad points out the importance of the conference under the headwinds of the Coronavirus pandemic that the world suffer from and has an impact on changing the global trends in dealing with development sectors, including construction and building, in addition to creating international political momentum towards rebuilding and green recovery.

Fouad states, “Putting sustainability and the environmental dimension at the heart of the development process was a clear directive from President Abdel Fattah El Sisi to the government to achieve green recovery and sustainable development, which required preparing the state budget for this. That’s why the government has approved, for the first time, the Egyptian environmental sustainability standards that are integrated into the state’s investment plan projects. So, 50% of the projects, starting from this year, have become green projects, considering the integration of the environmental dimensions.”

Moreover, Fouad stresses on the necessity to take quick steps to shift to green construction, adding that according to the latest report issued by the United Nations Environment Program, the international construction sector consumes 36% of energy, which led to increasing polluting emissions during 2017/2018 by 2%. She also emphasizes that the state works on setting more policies to encourage the private sector, define roles and responsibilities, and transform science into practical applications.

The session on “Bridging the Gap between Construction and Operation” in the presence of Ahmed Sorour, communications and security department manager at ECG, raises topics such as Sustainable Asset Management, Sustainable Design and Construction Techniques in Smart Cities, as well as Insurance Means for Smart Buildings.

For his part, Sorour reviews several smart city projects concerning smart designs and infrastructure in the New Alamein City and the New Administrative Capital (NAC), as well as the City of Knowledge that the company implements in cooperation with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.

Additionally, Sorour stresses that relying on modern technologies in smart cities does not mean dispensing with the human element, but it will contribute to shrinking its role, adding that smart cities have a higher cost in the beginning, but in the long run they will save a lot because they are sustainable. Sorour remarks that “It is easy to transfer existing cities to smart ones, but each city has its challenges, which need to be solved first”, clarifying that the real estate developers currently move towards smart cities because they realize their long-run vitality.

The ICSCPM focuses on “From Ordinary To Smart Buildings,” in the presence of Waleed Hussein, professor of architecture and urban development, and responsible for urban planning, design, and site coordination at ECG, Dina Shehayeb, program director of the architecture and urban design at Nile University, and Mohamed Fathy, professor of urban planning and head of Egyptian codes of smart cities at the HBRC. Hussein defines smart buildings, their benefits, in addition to the possibility of converting ordinary buildings into smart ones, clarifying, “Smart buildings are not just a residential building, but buildings include hardware and software linked to a computer or mobile device. They can analyze the decision and then make it away from the human element,” noting that the benefits of smart buildings, with their simple or more advanced concept, are numerous such as saving energy, time, safety, efficiency, and health care.

For her part, Shehayeb tackles smart learning, expressing her concerns about hindering the smart transformation by environmental controls. She also points out, “The trend now is to rely on communication and information technology, but we go to what can be measured easily, such as temperature, humidity, electricity, and water consumption through communication devices that connect the building to the city,” stressing the need to link land-use planning with occupancy to reach the population census and link it with movement.

Moreover, the conferences highlights several projects on knowledge management to enhance communication in the architectural design process during pandemics. It is worth noting that the communication process has become tough after the World Health Organization declared that Covid-19 is an international pandemic, in March 2020. Additionally, Habiba Fouad, an engineering student at a university, addresses the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on architecture firms, noting that the negative effects on performance were about 78%, while the projects’ delay has reached 56%.

Finally, Tarek Attia, director of construction engineering and management research institute at the HBRC, emphasizes the need to link projects and scientific research, adding that building materials companies should work in the green construction field and how to apply it in the manufacture of marble, ceramics, clay bricks, etc., in addition to working on research points related to waste management and recycling.

ICSCPM was held over three days from June 20 to 22, 2021, under the title “Integrated Management for Smart Cities,” at the Housing & Building National Research Center (HBRC).