Recently, sustainable living has become a top priority in shaping the real estate product especially after the pandemic hit; and this comes in line with Egypt’s vision for sustainable development 2030, where the concept of going green has appeared globally to combat climate change and protect the livelihood of mankind.

It is noticeable that 40% of carbon emissions come from the real estate sector only. Hence, there has been a global transformation to real estate sustainability as a major solution to face the continuous environmental changes that affect the nature of real estate products.

In this regard, Invest-Gate hosts a panel on “Urban Development & Sustainability,” in The National Museum of Egyptian Civilization on June 1, 2022. The panel hosts prominent experts in the Egyptian real estate sector, aiming at presenting and exchanging visions and proposals; in addition to highlighting the importance of green development, appropriate use of spaces and modifying business strategies.

Lilly Ghorab, Master’s Degree holder in Architect and Founder of Mediterranean Design Lounge (MDL), moderates the panel in the presence of many speakers namely Ahmed Shalaby, president and CEO of Tatweer Misr, Bedier Rizk, CEO of PARAGON Developments, and Marloes Knippenberg, CEO of Kerten Hospitality, Fouad Zayed, vice president Digital Energy and EcoStruxure Egypt, North East Africa and Levant Cluster at Schneider Electric, Hesham Mahran, chief Enterprise Line of Business officer at Orange Egypt, and Amgad Khattab, CEO of Engineering Solutions.

Mohamed Fouad, CEO and managing partner of Invest-Gate, states, “Since Invest-Gate’s  launch, it pledged to keep a strong dialogue between all the players in the real estate market to discuss the challenges that face the development of this industry through its  series of strategic events.”

Fouad adds, “Our mission now is to propose new investment opportunities in order to ensure a sustainable real estate product because  the environment is no longer a challenge but a threat to humankind.”

For her part, Ghorab explains, “. The Egyptian government has spent USD 324 bn to achieve the sustainable development initiative to reduce emissions and improve infrastructure in order to achieve sustainable economic growth, boost scientific research and technology, and promote development means to support adaptation.”

In the same vein, Shalaby points out that the concept of sustainability and smart cities has become a necessity and not a luxury anymore.. He adds that Egypt joined this field by 4G cities, noting that sustainable development could be applied starting from the project’s master plan and design models, stressing that the maintenance cost for sustainable buildings reaches 30%, which is lower than similar projects.

Moreover, Shalaby asks the government to encourage the private sector to implement sustainable real estate products by providing the developers with real incentives, such as tax exemptions, the issuance of accredited local certificates, and the encouragement of local industries. He points out that developers should take serious steps in the construction technology industry and use better means.

On the other hand, Rizk says that there are many challenges facing Egypt in achieving sustainable development, including climate change, lack of resources, and the need for electricity and water due to overpopulation, in addition to the high cost of electricity owing to the lack of oil in the future. He also stresses the necessity to search for solutions to keep pace with sustainable development.

“In PARAGON, we are keen on coping with sustainable development by implementing sustainable administrative buildings that aim to develop and spread the idea in the real estate market and encouraging other companies to follow suit,” Rizk comments.

“This could be achieved through using technology, as it helps in controlling the material in a better way and reduce costs for sustainable projects,” Rizk adds. He is also asking the Egyptian government to provide services for developers facilitating the transformation to sustainable development, along with initiatives, applications, and technological support.

In addition, Knippenberg stresses, “The trend towards sustainable development has become  a necessity in all countries. We at GCC found an urgent necessity to launch a program that helps to provide a better life and achieve sustainable development by 86.7%. Additionally, there are many future opportunities in Egypt that can be applied in different fields such as real estate, hospitality, and operation and management of buildings. Egypt has a great opportunity to attract foreign investments through achieving sustainable development in the real estate sector.”

Zayed states, “Applying sustainable development is a necessity now and this is what our company aims to help achieve. The three major factors that affect applying sustainable development are price, people’s habits, and investments.”

Regarding the significance of data analysis in applying sustainability, Zayed comments that it contributes to knowing the resources consumption, the movement, and number of people to identify required spaces. He continues, “We need initiatives provided by the Ministry of Communications for youth to build sustainable buildings.”

Alike,Mahran says, “Going green is an important requirement to establish eco-friendly cities. We must have a strong infrastructure to help  developers build smart cities and  achieve sustainability.”

Additionally, Orange Egypt is implementing the largest data center in NAC in order to enhance data and host all smart city platforms affiliated with the NAC. Egypt has the qualifications to be a strategic center for data in the Middle East. But there are many challenges facing sustainability, including changing people’s habits and providing a product with a reasonable price that suits customers and keeps their investments.

Similarly, Khattab stresses, “The transformation towards sustainability is not a trend but has become a need. The company is currently implementing 30 projects to achieve sustainability. Many of our clients are changing  their already existing projects to sustainable ones. Transforming old cities to smart ones is easy with the presence of qualifications and modern technology in Egypt.”

Khattab points out that the cost of some sustainable projects may increase by 0% to 3-4% compared to non-sustainable projects, highlighting the importance of local certificates, which guarantees that the building is sustainable.

To conclude, real estate experts agree on the importance of implementing sustainable development in real estate projects, whether implemented by the state or the private sector. This, in turn, will have a positive impact on local and foreign investments and economic growth. But there is a need for an organized plan based on data analysis and Egyptian legislation, besides easing the licenses for sustainable buildings, and supporting developers to go for sustainable and green development in line with Egypt Vision 2030.

The host panel is sponsored by PARAGON Developments and Tatweer Misr.