GSAS embarks on creating a new standard for sustainable benchmarking in green building developments The Gulf Organisation for Research and Development (GORD), a government body sponsored by Qatari Diar, has launched the Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS) as the “standard for excellence on sustainability in the Mena region”. “GSAS, formerly known as Qatar Sustainability Assessment System (QSAS), is the most comprehensive sustainability rating system in the world,” Dr Yousef Mohamed al-Horr, founder chairman of GORD, said yesterday. The change in the name is meant to support the all-inclusive offering of the system in assessing all types of developments, starting from macro level – such as master plans of cities – to micro level – such as single buildings. GSAS is unique in catering for specific typologies such as core and shell, schools, residential (single and group), mosques, hotels, light industries, neighbourhoods, construction, operations, healthcare, railways and others. “The launch of the GSAS is a huge step forward in our mission to promote sustainable applications and practices within the framework of a globalised society,” al-Horr explained. GSAS, developed after studies of 40 green building codes from around the world, embarks on creating a new standard for sustainable benchmarking in green building developments. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, and Sudan are showing great interest to study the adoption of GSAS as the unified code for the region. “Our goal now is to enable other countries and global institutions to benefit from the GSAS as a reliable performance-based and quantifiable sustainability rating system,” al-Horr asserted. Saudi Arabia was the first to invite GCC countries to benefit from QSAS, during the Saudi First Green Building Forum in Riyadh in 2010, which suggested the new name of Gulf Sustainability Assessment System. In May this year, Kuwait’s Minister of Public Works and Minister of State for Planning and Development Affairs, Dr Fadhel Safer Ali Safar, announced, during the launch of Kuwait Green Building Forum, the adoption of GSAS as the national code for green building developments. Speaking on the occasion, al-Horr outlined how GSAS addressed the unique cultural and environmental challenges of GCC countries and highlighted the challenges in the design and implementation of buildings, especially on environment, public health and climate change. Underlining the role of sustainability-driven design practices in reducing pollution and protecting the environment and natural resources, he emphasised the importance of GSAS and described it as a cornerstone to environmental security, economic growth and social development in the Arabian Gulf and Mena region. GSAS focuses on local needs and implements the best practices taking into consideration the region’s social, economic, environmental and cultural conditions which are different from other parts of the world. Al-Horr called upon all Gulf countries to adopt GSAS and to take daring steps in implementing a green building culture. Kuwait responded by signing a memorandum of understanding with GORD on May 23 to promote the adoption of the concept of sustainability, knowledge transfer, and implement a range of projects and research initiatives in sustainable building. GSAS has already been adopted in Qatar following a government directive requiring all new buildings to adhere to the standards. GSAS has also served as a definitive point of reference for other international rating schemes and has generated huge global interest following the launch in the UK of “The International Journal of Sustainable Built Environment”, a bi-annual scientific periodical that addresses a number of areas within the built environment sphere inspired by the GSAS initiative. “GSAS/QSAS rated projects in Qatar exceed an area of 4mn sqm and a value of QR20bn,” al-Horr said. The projects rated vary from mixed use to single use developments. Eco Villa Gulf Organisation for Research and Development (GORD) will construct an Eco Villa as an example of a sustainable, smart and healthy living environment. “The open-to-the-public landmark project will reinforce Qatar’s reputation as a leading advocate of sustainable development,” Dr Yousef Mohamed al-Horr announced yesterday.