What have been the major highlights in promoting sustainable practices in Qatar?
Qatar's focus on sustainability and environmentally-friendly construction methods took off in 2006, when the Qatar Foundation made it mandatory for all projects to be LEED-certified. As a result, an increasing number of buildings across Qatar are sustainable and green. There have been investments not only in sustainable projects, but also in buildings that needed capacity to put the green agenda forward. We have managed to create a community of engineers, consultancy companies, construction firms, regulators, and other stakeholders that have created a new green system for Qatar, providing the country with the strength to boost development to a higher level. Qatar has the second highest number of green buildings within the MENA region. Moreover, future plans include sustainable healthcare and schools that will increase the size and extent of green infrastructure. The government has been extremely supportive of environment-related regulations; Qatar Green Building Council contributed to this entire process by, for example, training over 4,000 professionals for the sustainability field over the last three years.
What are the criteria to be listed on the Qatar Green Directory?
We are increasing awareness through initiatives such as the Qatar Green Directory, where all companies that offer sustainable services in Qatar are easily listed. The directory's primary target is the business sector, and the idea was based on the lack of knowledge and direction for a great deal of companies that were interested in green operations and product development. The directory is a hub of information about products and services. Though it is currently under development, we are trying to design an accreditation process that ensures accuracy. Previously, the onus was on the company to submit documents verifying the sustainability of their products to be listed on the directory; now we are working on a system that will allow us to directly verify the accuracy of claims. In addition to compiling companies interested in green operations, we consult with them on ways to pursue these services and maximize their sustainability. The demand for green products, including recycled materials, has increased significantly; when we started listing companies on the Green Directory, nearly 800 showed interest, a number that has grown steadily.
What added value can QGBC bring to international companies interested in starting a green project in Qatar?
It would depend on the specific company's products and general marketing and business plan. After a detailed assessment, we connect these companies with an organization that needs their products. The company is perfectly positioned to help international companies connect with domestic actors because we are familiar with local stakeholders. Therefore, QGBC acts as an excellent guide that leads companies toward maximizing their green operations in Qatar.
How are you working to promote sustainability in the FIFA World Cup construction projects?
All of the World Cup stadiums are certified by Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS). We do, however, try to help developments in related sectors, like hospitality, which will play a major role during the World Cup. We are also partners with the Green Key Certification system, which allows us to certify and consult with hotels on sustainability. We want the World Cup to leave behind a green legacy.
How does Qatar compare to other GCC countries in terms of green practices?
Since Qatar has the second-largest number of green buildings in the region, we regularly consult with regional companies and authorities to share our expertise and experience. Before long Qatar will lead other markets in eco-friendly practices, with its facilities, projects, and new recycling facilities being used as a benchmark across the region.