Dubai’s corporates stand to gain the most by going green

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Dubai’s corporates stand to gain the most by going green

Most people in Dubai recognise that reducing energy and water waste, recycling, and generally ‘going green’ is something to be encouraged in a world where supplies of natural resources are extremely limited.

By Mattar Al Kaabi (Opinion)

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Published: Sun 24 Mar 2013, 10:15 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 9:14 AM

However, historically, Dubai and the UAE have not had a great record when it comes to energy usage and carbon emissions. To give you some context on how bad the situation is in the region, according to APMG-International, a global examination institute, commercial and residential properties in the Middle East currently use 225 per cent more energy than properties in Europe.

Of course, being a desert country, it is to be expected that we will require a lot of energy in order to meet our cooling and desalination needs — and to underpin a growing, ambitious and vibrant economy. Nonetheless, the environmental facts do not make for comfortable reading. In 2008, the WWF’s Living Planet Report showed that the UAE had the world’s worst ecological footprint per person, and the reality today is that Dubai’s carbon footprint is often still highlighted as one of the worst in the world.

More recently, there has been an increase in awareness around the importance of reducing waste in the emirate, and global initiatives like Earth Hour, which took place on Saturday, and the introduction of more environmentally friendly transportation, such as Dubai Metro, the Green Bus and hybrid taxis, are part of the reason why awareness is steadily growing. That is something we should be proud of. But, is there more we can do, and crucially, are enough of Dubai’s corporates playing their part?

While there are many Dubai-based firms, both big and small, making great strides in order to reduce their waste, there are also just as many that need to do more. It is likely that businesses that have done very little to date probably do not fully appreciate the genuine benefits that ‘going green’ can bring to their company, especially at the bottom line where cash is king. It is also possible that many simply do not know how they can cut their waste and energy usage in a meaningful way.

Corporate resistance to introducing green policies is something of an irony. Why? Because corporates that take the environment, energy use, and their carbon footprint seriously stand to benefit the most in terms of cutting operational costs, as well as inspiring and engaging more closely with staff, existing customers, and in terms of attracting new customers.

The solution to getting more action from businesses lies in greater awareness and education. Tecom Investments, which manages 10 interconnected business parks, including Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City, Dubai Knowledge Village and Enpark, a free zone dedicated to the alternative energy and environmental industries, provides a good example of what can be achieved with some dedication, focus and planning.

Energy and water conservation is now ingrained in Tecom’s corporate culture. From a strategic perspective, the business recognises that reducing waste and emissions is a key component for successful businesses in the future and a fundamental part of both financial and social responsibility.

In the last 12 months alone, the company can boast a major reduction to their operational expenditure through an integrated sustainable development policy; it successfully rolled out an initiative to house 15 innovative recycling machines across their business parks in conjunction with Averda and Air Miles; and, Tecom collected over 1 million tonnes of recyclable waste from the free zones they manage.

Actions and initiatives like these are paying dividends. Not only is Tecom saving money, but its customers enjoy more appealing landscapes, which in turn encourages greater tenant retention; and Tecom can boast to being a ‘Verified Corporate Hero’ by the Emirates Wildlife Society and WWF thanks to their efforts in reducing carbon emissions by 10 per cent last year. The latter plaudit is not just a ‘nice to have’ — it acts as a competitive credential.

So my message to corporates is clear. ‘Going green’ is not just a moral imperative mainly promoted by eco-warriors. It is now a tried and tested means of companies helping themselves both socially and financially. From that perspective, it is Dubai’s corporates that stand to gain the most by ‘going green’.

The writer is executive director, Building Facilities Management at Tecom Investments. Views expressed by him are his own and do not reflect the newspaper’s policy

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