Real estate developers, consultants, and designers discussed mechanisms of applying the concept of sustainable development in real estate projects and new cities developed by the state, as well as main challenges facing the implementation of this concept, during Architecture and Sustainable Development roundtable held on Saturday.
The panellists pointed out that introducing sustainable development should be a general orientation by the state in developing new cities to be generalised on private real estate sector. They highlighted the necessity to raise awareness of customers on the importance of green architecture and its impact on the cost of maintenance and facility management on the long term, and maintain investment value of projects.
They stressed the importance of initiating this concept as the state moves to expand the export of real estate and address foreign clients who are aware of sustainable development and interested in obtaining sustainable property.
Mohamed Abdel Ghany, chairperson of Engineering Consulting Bureau (ECB), said that Egypt has long been delayed in catching up with sustainability and green architecture, which is a very important subject especially in light of the current urban renaissance in Egypt.
Abdel Ghany added that the environmental and engineering sustainability aims largely to preserve the value of property, a thought adopted by developers and real estate companies in the current period, which maintains the value of property and ensures its competitiveness abroad.
Sustainability is a broader and more comprehensive concept than a green building, but the ecosystem as a whole is smart technology for optimal use of available energy and resources, Abdel Ghany elaborated.
Tarek Shoukry, chairperson of Real Estate Development Chamber at the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI) and chairperson of Arabia Holding, said that introducing sustainable development in Egypt’s real estate is so far theoretical, but applying it on the ground requires more investments by developers.
Shoukry noted that foreign clients evaluate real estate units based on the factor of sustainable development more than local clients, so the state must obligate the companies operating in the local market to consider this aspect when implementing their projects.
Meanwhile, Bashir Mostafa, chairperson of First Group, said many think applying sustainable development in building cities is just about providing wide green areas, but actually it includes many axes and technical details in terms of the implementation of real estate projects. It simply ensures the reuse of available resources in the area of the project and reduce wasted energy.
He highlighted that there is no general or unified vision among developers on green architecture, adding that “the state offers lands regardless its sustainability or providing methods to reduce the loss of energy in the project.”
Bashir stressed the need to change real estate designs to enable reducing energy consumption, which would also reduce the unit’s cost.
Raef Fahmy, founder of Raef Fahmy Architects, said that the idea of sustainability has several economic, social, physical, and environmental themes linked to each other, noting that the development of human needs drives more dependence on sustainability.
He pointed out that each developer aims to implement a profitable project, so that it can expand in implementing other projects.
Fahmy explained that developers need to take in mind the fact that their projects should fit different generations, setting Cairo Downtown as an example, as it became a repelling area for younger generations.
Moreover, Shady Mahmoud, business development director and co-founder of Distance Studio Consultants (DSC), said that the cost is an essential element in building units that save energy and water and is friendly environment, noting that green buildings are part of real estate sustainable development.
Mahmoud stressed, “We cannot blame developer or engineering consultants for not expanding the application of sustainable development, but the state should take the initiative and apply sustainability in its projects, so the private sector developers can follow.”
Also, Ahmed El Attal, chairperson of El Attal Holding and member of Real Estate Development Chamber, said ancient Egyptians applied sustainability in their buildings, especially the Pyramids, which shows the greatness of this civilization.
El Attal added that Egypt was ranked 87 out of 157 countries in the Sustainable Development Goals Index in 2017. “It’s our role as individuals, rather than developers, to save energy in all its forms.”
He explained that the state has exerted more efforts in debuting and implementing sustainability in new cities projects, such as New Administrative Capital and New Alamein, but there is no unified concept of sustainability among local developers.
El Attal revealed that the Administrative Capital for Urban Development (ACUD) puts 16 items for sustainable development in its contracts with developers in the NAC.
Ahmed Selim, CEO of Cairo Capital Developments and chairperson of Brickzey Commercial, said that applying sustainability in residential projects and convincing customers of its importance is difficult, as customers traditionally invest in commercial and administrative units, aiming to increase their properties’ value over time as they hold longer to it.
He added that property export requires introducing more sustainable projects and expand in implementation of serviced apartments, which are managed by hotel brands.
Mona Hussein, owner and co-founder of Mona Hussein Design House (MHDH) said that sustainability is a big and comprehensive concept that includes green architecture and preserves the environment. Therefore, the state must prioritise sustainability in modern urban development.
Mohamed Talaat, founder and chairperson of MT Architects, said Egypt Vision 2030 aims to achieve broader sustainable development, adding that by 2030, all buildings must be sustainable, unlike the current building conditions in Egypt.
Additionally, Amgad Shamaa, CEO of Amgad Shamaa Designs, believes that real estate developers should focus when implementing a new city or project on the selection of an architectural consultant who can offer a distinct real estate product and takes into account the finer details, including sustainability in the project.