The Saudi Green Building Forum (SGBF) has become the newest member of USGBC’s LEED International Roundtable. Faisal Alfadl, Secretary General of the King Saud Foundation and founder of SGBF, which is also a USGBC Education Partner, recently sat down with us for an interview.
Q: Talk to us about the current state of green building in Saudi Arabia.
With the king of Saudi Arabia’s green building initiative, inaugurated in 2010, green building is growing, and SGBF continues to play an important role in the greening of Saudi Arabia. At a recent visit of ours with His Royal Highness Prince Faisal bin Bandar Bin Abdulaziz, Governor of Riyadh, we discussed challenges associated with building green as it relates to people, planet and profits while promoting green building initiatives in Saudi Arabia and the Arab world. This includes boosting business collaboration, unveiling new employment opportunities and enhancing the built environment by introducing saaf® Green Building, a global trademark, third-body labeling system for people, products and projects that is friendly to human health, safety and the environment.
His Royal Highness Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed, our chairman, recently noted that “Saudi Arabian investment is no surprise in its long vision for 2030. Green building ranked third may look small to some, but it is a great leap into the future for us. Our future generations will enjoy clean energy and the environment, all done independently from oil and resource waste, as saaf goes forward with its champions—representing a valuable opportunity for mankind.”
Q: Tell us what you hope to work on as a new member of the LEED International Roundtable.
A: The LEED International Roundtable represents the impact and application of LEED worldwide. We want to accelerate the advancement of Saudi Arabia’s relevance in regional priority and application of the LEED rating systems internationally, within the framework of USGBC. In fact, the SGBF intends to utilize this partnership with the trusted saaf label as a bridge to build professional relations and leverage community connections.
Q: You and SGBF are very active in the Saudi Arabian green building industry. Tell us more about your work.
A. The public and private sector association drives all of us. At our recent annual summit, we witnessed the opportunity to exchange action words with government ministries and business champions of Saudi Arabia. Having an exchange with middle management and international community representatives, as well as leaders of private business, drives knowledge of the latest services, products, and project and technological developments providing for Saudi Arabia’s growing green building industry.
We also allow stockholders to gain an in-depth understanding of the key issues and major project opportunities in the Saudi Arabian green building sector, capitalizing on a wealth of opportunities for companies capable of providing green building design concepts, construction and operation for energy- and water-efficient technologies, effective management systems and architectural engineering building material.
Importantly, the saaf professionals get an excellent chance to be associated with the only green building council in Saudi Arabia, affiliated with USGBC and the International Code Council since 2015, officially inspired by the King's initiative, held under the patronage of Saudi government and supported by the private sector.
Q: What are the challenges and opportunities ahead?
A: Continuing to align the private and public sectors together with non-governmental organizations to discover how profits are driven, by commitment to green building standards for safety, health and the environment. The other challenges are to bring about integrative partnerships among owners and architecture, engineering and contractor companies, who claim its commitment to standards.
We have vast opportunities at hand due to the King’s initiative, for the Kingdom's unshakable commitment to joining the global participation in signing the Paris climate change treaty in New York, casting a challenge for the Middle East's large construction site taking place in Saudi Arabia, driven particularly by the Ministry of Finance, Projects and Housing. Additionally, SGBF is working with USGBC on the first LEED for Cities using the new performance platform, Arc, and we are seeking all governors, city service providers and the private sector to join the efforts.