Building and construction constitutes the backbone of Saudi Arabian development policies, and the ebb and flow of building trends can have either a negative or positive impact on the different development sectors. Recently, the Saudi Arabian Government (SAG), under the auspices of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, has undertaken a shift towards environmentally-conscious and environmentally-friendly buildings and building materials.
While the total size of the potential market is not fully known at this time, it is evident that there is a need for both products and services to satisfy this burgeoning need in the Kingdom. The 2009 Saudi Government budget is the country’s largest to date, with expenditures at $126.6 billion, and a good portion of this will be on construction and technological advances, both of which represent significant opportunities for US companies.
Currently, the government showed the greatest interest in green buildings. They have drawn up a preliminary guide as well as preliminary building standards that they intend to circulate widely over the next two years. A draft has been completed and is awaiting approval. The aim of these initial standards is to reduce the cost of construction and power and water consumption and extend the age of current buildings. Outside of the obvious governmental interest (since the government is the main initiator of major construction projects in KSA), private builders and contractors have also showed an interest in the materials, engineering and technologies involved in Green Building. The reasons are simple. The construction costs for green buildings are 22 per cent lower than for conventional ones. The importance of green buildings stems from the fact that they require fewer natural raw materials and save electricity. In addition, the metal panels used in these buildings can be used again after they are eventually demolished.
The positives of green buildings for the Kingdom are very clear. Metal and glass panels can be used as facades for buildings instead of concrete blocks. When the buildings become old, the panels can be removed, painted and reinstalled in new buildings, which saves a large amount of money. The buildings will contain devices minimizing the entry of harmful rays, keeping the buildings cool and saving water and power. All of these have become increasingly important factors at Saudi Arabia moves forward in its development.
By Jesse Lapierre