What is the role of your institution in transitioning to eco-friendly legislation?
Since its establishment, one of QGBC's main objectives has been working with the government to develop regulations and systems related to green buildings. We did works for ministries and governmental organizations. In 2019, we announced a new efficiency excellence evaluation system for buildings with KAHRAMAA, which started with hotels and the hospitality sector. We still have things to develop, especially with energy certification systems and materials. Starting 2018, we have been working with the Green Key certification system, which mainly targets the hospitality sector. Seven five-star hotels were awarded the Green Key certification after more than a year of work to achieve it. We are also developing the system for events and temporary venues, such as the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
What is the relevance of education when it comes to promoting green habits?
With the Green Key, we have a scheme called Eco-Schools, an international program involving more than 20 million students from around the world. The aim is to encourage and engage students to do initiatives. We are starting with 30 schools and have already awarded some the green flag. We are taking this initiative to push campuses and universities to go greener. We are also working with the Qatar Foundation to make the whole campus eco-friendlier. This mainly relates to water, energy, and waste. It is a development program within the school, so students feel loyal to it and develop the project themselves. Our target is to reach 30 schools by the end of 2019. We have trained approximately 300 teachers in the program.
How can increasing the health of the buildings directly impact society?
We also work with healthy cities, a program with the Ministry of Health, which is about healthy life practices, especially in diet and lifestyle. It also addresses how healthy our buildings are, for example, their air quality, ventilation, and lighting. Almost 80% of operational expenses for any company goes to human resources. Therefore, having a healthy building will affect the performance of employees. Better performance and production mean higher efficiency. Even controlling the air conditioning temperature and thermal comfort has an impact. To promote and raise awareness about healthy lifestyles, we launched Qatar Sustainable Week in 2016, which is not only about cleaning beaches or school competitions. Many gyms were opened for free during the week, and we had many campaigns and saw a great deal of participation from nutrition centers and food companies. It is about the people who occupy the buildings, not just the buildings themselves. We cannot succeed in this endeavor without contributions from the private sector. We developed an online directory three years ago called Qatar Green Directory that provides all the green services and products available in Qatar. And this list has grown and expanded significantly in those three years. We want this platform to connect people, consultants, and clients with the green products suppliers and manufacturers.
How has the blockade stimulated the ingenuity of Qataris to recycle more?
The blockade has in fact had a positive economic impact and created so many business opportunities for companies. The food sector has really developed over the past several years. Recycled pallets used to be imported and are now produced here, creating a new export opportunity. A plastics recycling factory has also been established, and there are new recycling centers for metal, electronic waste, paper, and wood. The government has supported this growth and assigned an area only for the recycling industry. It is good that we now have a hub for this industry. There has been a strong push in the market toward that, and we even have an annual conference to discuss these issues.