Shifting Mindsets Towards Embracing Sustainability is Crucial: Engi Jaber, Head of Climatize

Shifting Mindsets Towards Embracing Sustainability is Crucial: Engi Jaber, Head of Climatize

SMEN interviews Head of Climatize, Ms Engi Jaber on different aspects and challenges of adopting sustainability in built environment

On World Environment Day, 2024, Sustainability Middle East News interviewed Ms Engi Jaber, Head of Climatize, a Serco Company. During the interview, we sought to understand various aspects of sustainability in the built environment and how shifting behaviour towards embracing green practices can accelerate this process.

The excerpts....

1. What is the main challenge today as we try to transform our built environment into sustainable ones?

The primary challenge lies in the integration of sustainable practices into existing infrastructure while simultaneously ensuring that new developments are designed with sustainability at their core. For existing buildings, overcoming technical, financial, and regulatory barriers is a significant hurdle.

Retrofitting older structures to meet modern energy efficiency standards, securing funding for these sustainable projects, and navigating complex regulations and transforming them into a continuous sustainable operations are key challenges.

In the context of new built environments, the challenge is to incorporate sustainable design principles from the outset. This includes the use of eco-friendly materials, energy-efficient technologies, and sustainable construction practices.

Ensuring that these new developments operate sustainably over their lifecycle involves creating robust systems for energy and carbon management, waste reduction, and water conservation.

Additionally, shifting mindsets and behaviours towards embracing sustainability in everyday operations is crucial. This requires ongoing education, awareness campaigns, and the involvement of all stakeholders, including architects, builders, policymakers, and the general public.

2. How can people, (and communities) come together and contribute to building sustainable built environment?

There is a high need now more than ever for people to adopt sustainable habits such as reducing energy use, recycling, and use of sustainable transportation. Embedding circularity into daily practices, like composting and reusing materials, is also crucial.

On a community level, individuals can participate in local initiatives like community solar programs, urban gardening, and tree planting. Advocating for green policies and sustainable development in local governance is essential.

Educational programmes and workshops can raise awareness and equip individuals with the necessary skills for sustainable living. By investing in renewable energy projects, people can directly support the development of green infrastructure, democratising climate finance and making a tangible impact on their built environment.

3. How does Climatize help this ecosystem, in terms of design, construction, and operation?

Climatize plays a pivotal role in promoting sustainable practices across a project’s life cycle. We guide the teams on considering their environmental and social impact and the means to contribute in a manner resulting in a positive impact all across, we provide technical guidance based on performance- based consultancy and aid in specifying eco-friendly materials, energy-efficient systems, factor health and wellbeing measures and embed innovative building techniques during design, construction and operations.

During operations, we support in conducting audits and establishing baselines and monitoring systems clubbed with technical consultancy over the implementation of energy management systems, renewable energy integration, sustainable maintenance practices, and decarbonisation strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Moreover, we create platforms that enable on-going monitoring, sustainable reporting and provide optimisation solutions to further scale the positive impact of the development and business operations.

As sustainability champions, we influence government mandates and work with key decision-makers to promote green building standards and decarbonization initiatives.

We provide consulting services to help organisations adopt sustainable practices, reduce their carbon footprint, and achieve their environmental goals. Additionally, we organise educational workshops and forums to inspire and equip stakeholders across various sectors.

Through these efforts, Climatize drives systemic change towards a more sustainable and low-carbon built environment.

4. What trends are you seeing?

We are seeing a growing trend towards decentralised renewable energy systems, smart building technologies, and the integration of circular economy principles and the use of alternative construction methods (such as 3D printing and modular construction).

There is also an increasing emphasis on community-led sustainability initiatives and the use of digital platforms to crowdsource funding for green projects. Furthermore, the push for net-zero buildings and cities is gaining momentum, driven by advancements in technology and stronger policy commitments.

5. Tell us something about some of the projects Climatize has taken up recently?

Climatize has been actively involved in several flagship projects that prioritise net zero energy, carbon, water and circularity in addition to those in pursuit of the highest-level of international certifications such as LEED and WELL among others.

One notable project is the Amaala Yacht Club, a luxury development committed to sustainability and environmental stewardship.

The project is a keystone development with a captivating free-flowing structure that delivers a one-of-a-kind meeting point between land and sea and incorporates state-of-the-art sustainable building technology systems and features, energy-efficient building designs, light pollution reduction and an increased focus on indoor environmental quality and sustainable materials to minimize its carbon footprint while providing an exceptional experience for its visitors.

Another exemplary project is the Masdar The Link project, located in the Masdar City development in Abu Dhabi. This innovative project spanning 30,000-square-metres features the region’s first net-zero energy shared working and living facility.

The Link is being constructed to LEED Platinum, WELL Gold, 4 Pearl PBRS Estidama, and LEED SmartPark Silver standards, with planned annual energy reduction of up to 117%, powered by renewable energy.

It incorporates the use of passive design measures, energy-efficient structures as well as sustainability features including high-efficiency heating, ventilation and cooling, energy monitoring, and A-star rated appliances, wellness considerations for an optimised environmental quality to ensure comfort and wellbeing of its residents and visitors all year round.

6. What were your expectations from COP28 and how fruitful was the event - in terms of sustainable built environment?

Our expectations for COP28 were high, especially regarding the global commitment to combating climate change and its implications for the sustainable built environment.

The event proved to be particularly fruitful, marked by a historic decision to accelerate the phase-out of fossil fuels and transition to renewable energy sources. This monumental shift not only underscores the urgency of addressing climate change but also has profound implications for sustainable development and urban planning.

In terms of the built environment, COP28 generated significant momentum towards achieving net-zero emissions and promoting sustainable building practices.

The renewed focus on renewable energy and decarbonisation strategies aligns closely with our mission at Climatize to advance green infrastructure and environmentally friendly construction methods. Moreover, the increased recognition of the role of cities and buildings in achieving climate goals highlights the importance of our efforts to influence policy and drive sustainable development initiatives.

Overall, COP28 was a landmark event that reaffirmed the global commitment to sustainability and provided a clear roadmap for advancing the sustainable built environment.

As we continue to implement the outcomes of COP28, we remain optimistic about the opportunities for innovation and collaboration in creating a more resilient and environmentally conscious built environment for future generations.

7. Net Zero built environment: Is this a viable concept?

Absolutely, achieving a net-zero built environment is not just viable but essential for combating climate change. It involves balancing greenhouse gas emissions with removal efforts, resulting in no net increase in carbon emissions.

To achieve this, a holistic approach is necessary, encompassing energy-efficient design, renewable energy integration, sustainable building practices, and innovative technologies. Collaboration among stakeholders is key to success.

Various methodologies and strategies contribute to achieving net-zero status. These include optimising energy efficiency through passive design strategies and high-performance building envelopes, integrating renewable energy systems like solar systems, and adopting sustainable building practices such as using low-carbon materials and enhancing indoor environmental quality.

Innovative technologies such as energy storage systems and building automation also play a crucial role in optimising energy use.

While transitioning to a net-zero built environment presents challenges, such as cost implications and technical complexities, the benefits are significant. These include reduced energy costs, improved indoor air quality, enhanced occupant comfort and productivity, and a smaller environmental footprint.

By embracing sustainable practices and implementing innovative strategies, we can work towards achieving net-zero emissions and creating a healthier, more sustainable built environment for future generations.

8. What steps are you taking towards educating people and organisations towards building sustainable built environment?

Education is a cornerstone of our mission at Climatize. We are dedicated to educating individuals and organiations about building a sustainable built environment.

Alongside our direct involvement in sustainable projects, we offer tailored training and internship programmes aimed at equipping clients and individuals with the knowledge and skills needed for sustainable design, transformation and operations.

These programmes cover various topics, including sustainable design principles, energy-efficient building practices, sustainable operations, monitoring and reporting in addition to green building certifications like LEED and WELL.

Our ongoing support ensures clients stay updated with the latest advancements, fostering a culture of continuous learning and empowering them to become leaders in driving positive change towards a sustainable future.

Becoming part of Serco who have nationalisation as a core part of their strategy, with a number of initiatives to enable this, has now opened up even more opportunities to educate and develop national talent in this sphere.

9. Climatize was acquired by Serco in February this year, what benefits are you passing on to clients from this?

The acquisition has marked the beginning of an exciting new chapter, offering expanded capabilities and opportunities for our clients. Serco's vast resources, expertise, and global reach empowers Climatize to extend the reach of our sustainable solutions and services, tapping into new markets and broadening our portfolio of sustainable projects.

This collaboration not only strengthens our ability to drive innovation within the industry but also aligns seamlessly with Serco's purpose of ‘Impact a Better Future,’ and within that its commitment to sustainability, fostering collaboration on pioneering initiatives and cutting-edge technologies that redefine the boundaries of sustainability within the built environment.

Serco's commitment to sustainability aligns seamlessly with Climatize's mission, fostering a culture of innovation and excellence. This synergy allows us to pioneer sustainable solutions that push the envelope in the built environment.

Additionally, the acquisition enhances our capacity to provide comprehensive support throughout our clients' sustainability journey. From initial consultation and advisory to project implementation and ongoing operations and management, we offer end-to-end solutions that address unique needs and challenges, streamlining the process of implementing sustainable practices and maximising efficiency while minimising costs and resource consumption.

10. There has been a lot of talk about space and climate related services. Can you tell us how Space can help?

With With 50% of essential climate variables only measurable from space its clear to see the impact the skies can have on earth. Space technology offers invaluable tools for addressing climate-related challenges and advancing sustainability in the built environment.

Satellite imagery, remote sensing data, and geospatial analysis provide real-time insights into environmental parameters, such as temperature, land cover, and air quality, enabling informed decision-making and targeted interventions.

These technologies support urban planning, infrastructure development, and climate adaptation strategies by assessing land use patterns, identifying suitable sites for renewable energy installations, and monitoring changes in urban heat islands.

Moreover, space-based technologies contribute to monitoring and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, facilitating the implementation of emissions reduction initiatives and compliance with international climate agreements.

Satellite observations enable accurate measurement of atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, guiding efforts to mitigate climate change and transition to a low-carbon economy.

Additionally, space technology supports sustainable development and environmental conservation efforts by informing natural resource management, biodiversity conservation, and ecosystem restoration initiatives through mapping habitats, monitoring deforestation, and assessing changes in land cover.

Serco released its own Urban Twin tool earlier this year, The solution can enable companies and governments to monitor the environmental impact of their operation, via AI modelling; it will also enable prediction, through simulating the impact of decisions on different climate-based scenarios, such as dealing with the impacts of rising sea levels or monitoring air quality in congested environments.

Furthermore, the data will also help support the conservation of biodiversity, as well as providing the insight to create more sustainable traffic networks. By harnessing the power of satellite data, remote sensing, and geospatial analysis, Climatize and Serco offer a unique service to our clients, focusing on enhancing resilience, optimising resource management, and building more sustainable and resilient cities and communities.

By integrating Space technology with our technical capabilities, we overcome climate-related challenges, promoting sustainability and offer innovative solutions to support climate action and environmental conservation efforts worldwide.

Sustainability Middle East News