Jackson ... sustainability focus.

Jackson ... sustainability focus.

Driving sustainability forward

ANDREW JACKSON, director at SAS International*, focuses on sustainable building and why this is important in the construction sector.

October 2014

THE performance, certification and rating of buildings across their entire lifecycle is the subject of much discussion from a global perspective; but this also applies equally to projects at a local level.

The delivery of long-term value has grown in significance particularly in the building construction sector. While for commercial developers, delivering a sustainable building can lead to early rental, for public buildings the goals set by governments are driving the need to achieve higher performance.

Sustainability demands a collaborative and pertinent approach in the majority of cases, whether public or private, for new-build or refurbishment.

SAS International, as a manufacturer and distributor of interior fit-out products, is often involved in these discussions to facilitate these aspirations at the design stage. This dialogue is not just in terms of supplying easy-to-reference information and data about its products for specifications.

Its technical teams are regularly involved in assisting to meet, for example, the architectural vision required for a large infrastructure project.

This might require accommodating specific demands for acoustic performance while at the same time meeting the architect’s design aspirations. The company looks to create an outcome that is the most efficient in terms not only of performance but also of minimising waste for example, working alongside the broader design team at the concept stage.

SAS International also runs training and CPD (continuing professional development) support at its Dubai (UAE) base, and training sessions are usually project-specific. Its experience through this shows that having the opportunity to understand the practical challenges prior to starting installation on site leads to better quality installations and improved productivity.

Relevance and pertinence is more easily achieved on this project-specific work, you may say: but how do we develop knowledge and training in a broader context? How do we ensure that everyone is compliant with the latest industry standards and where sustainable design thinking is heading?

For this, as an industry, SAS International often turns to exhibitions and industry events for up-to-date knowledge and, importantly, to exchange knowledge that has a real relevance.

The forthcoming Big 5 being held next month at the Dubai World Trade Centre in Dubai is one such event. I was interested to read the Gulf News, where event director Andy White was quoted as saying: “The market is changing, prompting a need to support the industry with more educational content at the show.”

The event team sees the opportunity to bring in speakers to share their perspectives, address new technologies and discuss challenges in the upcoming GCC project pipeline, as a critical part of this important education process.

Indeed, the two-day exhibition has a ‘Sustainable Design and Construction’ Conference running alongside it. On Day One, the planned agenda includes a look at infrastructure mega-projects in the Middle East and business critical updates on these projects in the construction sector from around the Middle East and North Africa (Mena). On Day Two, it promises a look at themes such as regulation, refurbishment, retrofit and energy-efficient cooling in the context of sustainable developments.

With The Big 5 expecting a bumper turnout this year, it is a very significant year to be ensuring relevance. There is a renewed confidence and buoyancy in the region, which has been given a boost with the World Expo 2020 to be staged in Dubai.

Since the first Great Fair of 1851, World Expos continue to be one of the largest and most enduring global mega-events and are held every five years. Lasting six months, they attract millions of visitors who explore and discover pavilions, exhibits and cultural events staged by hundreds of participants including nations, international organisations and businesses.

The theme of Dubai’s World Expo ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, aims to draw on the UAE’s success in pioneering new paths of development and innovation, under the sub-themes of: ‘Mobility, Sustainability and Opportunity’.

Meeting the infrastructure and building requirements that this global event demands will also call for embracing the most up-to-date approaches, products and technology.

With indications that the country’s construction sector looks set to return near optimum capacity, it is important that the momentum gained in transforming thinking about how buildings and communities are designed, constructed, maintained and operated across the globe continues and is relevant.

Long driven by schemes such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (Leed) and local rating systems, creating opportunities for exchanging and sharing knowledge, training and development is critical in supporting transformative thinking to enable sustainable building.


*SAS International is a British manufacturer of interior fit-out products, driven by delivering quality, innovation and providing maximum value to clients and specifiers worldwide. With more than 40 years’ experience, the company produces high-performance metal products including ceiling systems and architectural metalwork solutions.

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