“Sustainability is best insurance for region’s real estate sector,” says Hyder Consulting

The real estate industry in the Middle East is progressively pursuing sustainability and this will lead to substantial benefits in terms of cost, value and quality of real estate, according to Stephen Oehme, Regional Director - Value Management & Sustainability of Hyder Consulting Middle East, the award winning international advisory and design consultancy.

"Sustainability in general and specifically green building has truly emerged in the region but what we have seen so far is only the beginning. Over the last 18 months the broader market in the Middle East has gradually pursued improved sustainability with all range of thinking, initiatives and technology being proactively reviewed and debated," Oehme said during a presentation at the Cityscape Dubai International Real Estate Investment and Development Conference.

"Green Building being viewed as an additional cost and hurdle is now changing in the region. Since real estate in the Middle East is currently on a high growth curve, the region is strategically placed to promote and revolutionise the concept of sustainability," Oehme told the audience that comprised local and international delegates from the real estate, financial and banking sectors.

"Understanding and accessing the business case through sustainability is well underway in the Middle East and it's crucial to achieving the region's growth targets. Especially in these days of increased environmental awareness and global financial crises, sustainability makes great business sense. The financial, social and environmental outcomes of sustainability are not only desirable but also essential from a business perspective," Oehme added.

Elaborating on his arguments, Oehme said developments and investments that do not pay proper attention to sustainability would be exposing themselves to dire financial consequences. "Such developments not only result in unnecessary costs and lesser quality but also lose out in terms of value when compared with sustainable buildings. Sustainability is the best approach to access real quality and value, reduce appropriate costs and provide a hedge against the effects of the global financial crisis."

Oehme also explained that how sustainability is achieved makes a substantial difference in the final outcomes. "Approaches to sustainability are in relative infancy, however they are maturing globally. Some approaches do result in significant additional costs, but then these are often the costs of the approach and not the cost of sustainability. Sustainability has its associated risks and these need to be understood and managed. However, the result of sustainability applied appropriately is not a cost – it's a profit."

In his final remarks, Oehme stated that with green building concepts making their way into rule books and environmental consciousness increasing in the region, sustainability presents tremendous commercial opportunities.