Over the last two weeks, Egypt hosted the world’s largest climate summit – the 27th Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC (COP27) – with a view to paving the way for future ambition to effectively tackle the global challenge of climate change.
Construction is one of the sectors that have direct and indirect impacts on the environment. Buildings use energy, water, and raw materials, and generate waste and potentially harmful atmospheric emissions.
Major real estate developers in Egypt participated in COP27 to show their desire to take a real step towards developing their construction policy and vision, and consider environmentally responsible building standards.
COP27 witnessed the launch of the Sustainable Communities Initiative: Building for Better Lives. Several real estate companies joined the initiative. It is aimed at mitigating the impact of buildings on the environment through green and sustainable standards.
Hisham Talaat Moustafa, CEO and Managing Director of Talaat Moustafa Group (TMG), said that following sustainable standards is positively reflected on the quality of services provided to residents and visitors of TMG’s projects and contributes to creating a sustainable environment for projects.
In this regard, TMG signed a strategic partnership with Schneider Electric to provide the latest technological solutions in the construction of infrastructure and facilities management for the Noor project near the New Administrative Capital, in line with the application of sustainability standards and preserving the environment. Under this partnership, TMG will apply and integrate Schneider Electric technologies and solutions in managing infrastructure systems and facilities, especially electricity, water, traffic, data centers and control centers, in the Noor project.
Magued Sherif, SODIC’s Managing Director, said: “We are very proud and excited to be participating in COP27 this year and being a part of the climate action dialogue and exploring different opportunities for climate resilience. We are currently taking serious steps towards a sustainable corporate strategy, setting a long term environmental, social, and governance (ESG) plan that guides our commitment and carbon reduction targets moving forward.”
Sherif added that a warming planet is a major challenge against sustainability, and with climate change circumstances, it is harder to find sustainable resources.
SODIC has been a United Nations Global Compact signatory, communicating on progress against its 10 principles since 2014. As one of many climate initiatives, SODIC’s headquarters have been 95% powered by solar energy since 2020. In 2022, SODIC published its first sustainability report and calculated its carbon footprint baseline to make a transparent commitment towards carbon reduction.
Eco-friendly building materials
CEO of Orascom Development’s El Gouna town, Mohamed Amer, stated: “Enhancing and protecting the exquisite environments of our Orascom Development communities has been an essential consideration since El Gouna’s inception 33 years ago. Today, sustainability is more important than ever at Orascom Development as our residents and guests are increasingly adopting environmentally sustainable lifestyles in our integrated towns throughout Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. Across Orascom Development, we share insights and best practices to create towns in harmony with their natural environments, including El Gouna at the Red Sea, Andermatt in the Swiss Alps, and West Carclaze Garden Village in the English countryside.”
He added: “El Gouna is at the forefront of sustainable communities and construction with many initiatives to optimize our resources, and reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions. For example, we have used recycled eco-friendly materials for our pavers and sidewalks for more than 15 years, and we use an eco-friendly technique in 85% of our roads to preserve the ground’s capacity to retain more rainfall in the winter. Additionally, most of our gardens, golf courses, sports facilities, and outdoor areas are irrigated by recycled water and 16% of our energy needs are supplied by a dedicated solar plant. These efforts are just a few reasons why El Gouna has won awards as an early adopter of sustainable development practices in Egypt.”
Tatweer Misr has joined the UN Global Compact – a voluntary initiative based on CEO commitments to implement universal sustainability principles – and partnered with sustainability consultancy DCarbon to ensure the wellbeing of people through sustainable construction.
Ahmed Shalaby, Chairperson and CEO of Tatweer Misr, stated: “Joining the Sustainable Communities Initiative supports efforts to reduce polluting emissions to the environment and adapt to negative effects of climate change, and this comes in light of the company’s strategy to build smart and sustainable societies in our projects aimed at rationalizing energy and optimizing the use of natural resources.”
Osama Abou Alam, CEO of The Ark Development, said: “As an Egyptian real estate developer, we believe in our role in enabling living in a sustainable environment for all Egyptians. We, at The Ark Development, have a strong and longstanding commitment to integrating environmental, social, and corporate governance frameworks into our strategy and operations through creating high-end, mixed-use developments.
Abou Alam added: “Egypt’s hosting of COP27 proved that the nation spares no effort to shift to a green economy, and we as real estate developers believe that sustainable living should be on the top of our priorities.”
Mohamed El-Taher, CEO of Saudi Egyptian Developers, stressed the company’s keenness to apply the principles of sustainability in all of its projects, especially “Central”, one of the most important administrative-commercial buildings in New Cairo. The project’s cost reached around EGP 13 bn.
In addition, the project aims at obtaining the LEED Silver certification from the US Green Building Council, which is awarded to leading systems in energy and environmental designs.
He explained that “Central” is distinguished by its application of environmental sustainability standards, and this is represented in the utilization of rainwater, improving temperatures inside the project, choosing environmentally friendly building materials, and reducing light pollution, in addition to smart transportation, waste recycling, maximizing indoor air quality and improving the efficiency of energy.
Additionally, Redcon for Offices and Commercial Centers, a subsidiary of Redcon Construction, signed on 9 November Egypt’s Sustainable Communities Initiative – Building for Better Lives at COP27. The initiative is intended at uniting, coordinating, and guiding stakeholders’ actions across the built environment value chain that will ensure the well-being of people and the planet through the construction and real estate sector practices in Egypt. UNGC and DCarbon Egypt will monitor, report, and examine the progress of participants in achieving the initiative’s goals.
Tarek El Gammal, Chairperson of Redcon, said that the company is extremely proud to be one of the founding members of this initiative and we are very happy to see that other members of the real estate community are also on the same page as that of Redcon when it comes to sustainable development.
First fourth generation city
Khaled Abbas, Chairperson and Managing Director of Administrative Capital for Urban Development (ACUD), has held several meetings on the sidelines of his participation in the COP27. The first meetings were with the French company Atos working in field of information technology, which is cooperating with the ACUD in establishing an entity to manage smart infrastructure for communications and data centres in the New Capital as the first fourth generation smart city. Abbas also participated in the discussion session organized by the French company, in the presence of Amr Talaat, Minister of Communications and Information Technology, and the French ambassador in Cairo. Abbas highlighted that the cooperation between the two companies benefits both parties, as they chose one of the most important urban development projects in the world to invest in it, explaining that the agreement includes cooperation with the French partner to train Egyptian cadres on the latest technology available to them and the transfer of knowledge.
Moreover, Abbas held a meeting with the CEO of BEEAH Group. The UAE company was contracted to offer waste disposal and recycling services at the New Administrative Capital in a smart way and using the latest equipment. Both businessmen discussed aspects of current and future joint cooperation.
Abbas participated in the opening of the Schneider Electric Sustainability Center in the presence of the ministers of transport and environment.
He noted that the company cooperates with Schneider Electric in the field of clean energy, pointing out that renewable energy is being used in the New Capital through installing solar panels on all roofs of government buildings to produce nearly 30% of energy there. Thus, the Government District will be one of the first areas with zero carbon emissions, in preparation for the generalization of the experiment throughout the New Administrative Capital.
He further added that work is underway to launch the largest tender for the supply and installation of solar panels for a surface area of approximately one million square meters in the New Capital.
Ahmed El-Shennawy, Deputy Chairperson of the Sustainable Development Committee at the Egyptian Businessmen’s Association, stated that COP27 is a promising start and a positive step that indicates that Egypt is moving at a rapid pace towards sustainable development, and is paying great attention to achieving the sustainable development goals. According to Egypt’s 2030 Vision, nearly 40 fourth-generation cities will be launched.
El-Shennawy pointed out that the real estate development sector has an active role in preserving the environment and applying the concept of sustainability in construction, as it accounts for 40% of carbon emissions worldwide.
He highlighted the importance of expanding the use of sustainable materials and developing and modernizing building materials industries, as they acquire high rates of emissions such as iron and cement, as they are energy-, electricity and water-intensive industries, which represent a great danger to achieving the goal of sustainable development.
Furthermore, he called for spreading awareness of the concept of sustainability in general, and particularly in real estate, as the use of solar energy in buildings and alternative materials for steel and cement has a great benefit for citizens. He stressed the importance of the state’s role in awareness campaigns to spread the culture of sustainable development and its support for developers to establish sustainable cities.