Archive for the ‘Construction Industry’ Category

Mega Structures: Dubai’s Palm Island

Episode 1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WybVe8eXXqw (Read more..)

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Proactive ‘green’ approach urged

Proactive ‘green’ approach urged
by Amy Ward
Developers in the UAE are well advised to voluntarily seek certification for the sustainability of their buildings to mitigate any potential increases in design and construction costs before the emirates make the sustainable building guidelines mandatory, writes AMY WARD*.
With the 2009 World Future Energy Summit having been held in Abu Dhabi last month (January), the focus has once again turned to environmental sustainability in the UAE.
In 2007, the World Wide Fund (WWF) Living Planet Report stated that the UAE had the world’s largest carbon footprint per resident. Whether or not this provided the catalyst, the UAE has since then committed to initiatives that encourage low-carbon living such as the Masdar City development in Abu Dhabi.
In recent times, both Abu Dhabi and Dubai have taken steps to support green building principles and their implementation in the construction industry.
Abu Dhabi introduced its ‘Estidama’ sustainable building guidelines in May 2008. Estidama, meaning ‘sustainability’ in Arabic, provides guidelines for sustainable design and operation and maintenance of all types of buildings and communities in the emirate. It is intended that Estidama will become the basis for mandatory guidelines to be introduced in Abu Dhabi in the future, in addition to being introduced in the other emirates.
The Estidama programme was launched by the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council to underpin Plan Abu Dhabi 2030 and a sustainable community, by promoting economic growth whilst enhancing the overall quality of life and protecting environmental resources.
Three sets of guidelines were produced as a result of the programme including the new building guidelines, existing building guidelines and community design guidelines. Whilst at this stage these are discretionary guidelines, the Urban Planning Council has indicated that it plans to introduce mandatory regulations in the future.
The new buildings assessment method assesses 10 different criteria for which credits can be awarded. These include water, energy use, indoor environment quality, ecology, management, transport, pollution, materials, waste management and land use.
The Estidama assessment method, however, differs from other international assessment standards in that it has been tailored specifically to the UAE’s socio-economic and environmental conditions in mind. For example, water and energy conservation are considered to be the most important elements of the Estidama green building principles and make up 50 per cent of the total credits that a building can be awarded. Upon accreditation, buildings are rated using a pearl rating system according to the credits they have been awarded under the 10 criteria.
In Dubai, compliance with internationally-recognised green building standards has been on the rise over the past two years. The Emirates Green Building Council was established in 2006 and decided to use the US-based Leed system (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) as a basis for its green building guidelines. As a result, in 2007, the Emirates Leed scheme was released. The UAE, currently, has a small number of Leed-accredited facilities, with more likely to be introduced in the future.
The Leed Green Building Rating System was established in the US in 1994 and provides standards for environmentally-sustainable construction. It identifies six major areas where new commercial buildings (or those with significant renovations) can obtain credits in order to be a Leed-certified building. The areas include sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environment quality and innovation and design process. A building can be ‘certified’ or, if it obtains a higher number of credits, can obtain a silver, gold or platinum rating.
Dubai currently has two Leed-certified buildings – the headquarters of the building automation specialist Pacific Controls, based in Techno Park, which is platinum rated; and the district cooling plant at Wafi City Shopping Centre, which is gold rated – one of only two utility buildings worldwide to achieve a gold rating.
The US is not the only country to have internationally-recognised standards for environmentally-sustainable construction. In the UK, BRE (Building Research Establishment) created the Environmental Assessment Method (Breeam), a voluntary measurement rating for green buildings. Launched in 1990, it is the world’s longest-standing environmental assessment method for buildings.
Breeam now assesses new non-domestic buildings against nine categories including management; health and well-being; energy; transport; water; material and waste; land use and ecology; and pollution. BRE launched an adapted version of Breeam guidelines in the UAE in October which took into account climate difference, water desalination and differences in ecology as well as recognising the number of sea or marine reclamation projects under construction. In developing the adapted guidelines, BRE worked with a local ecologist to look at the impact of building reclaimed islands.
Significance
Until mandatory regulations are introduced, there are advantages and disadvantages for those in the construction industry who voluntarily choose to become accredited under one of the international systems or the UAE’s own Estidama system.
Once certification is pursued under an accreditation or certification system, there may be an increase in the initial design and construction costs. This could be firstly because sustainable construction principles may not be well understood by the design professionals undertaking the project and, as a result, further time may be required on research or additional liaison between the design team, construction team and client. Secondly, there may be a lack of available manufactured building components that meet the standards required under the green building certification systems. Thirdly, there are likely to be additional costs associated with pursuing certification for the project itself and subsequent liaison with the accreditation body.
However, there are many advantages associated with green buildings, which include a tendency to use key resources more efficiently, when compared with more conventional buildings; and healthier work and living environments, which contribute to higher productivity and improved employee health and comfort.
Higher initial costs may also be mitigated over time if operational costs are lower, which typically is the case with a green building-certified project. In addition, as further developments come onto the market, differentiation may become more important as developers try to attract buyers. Sustainability may be one of the key differentiating factors for future projects in the UAE.
Developers in the UAE, especially in Abu Dhabi, may be well placed to consider voluntarily certification under Estidama in order to prepare for, and mitigate, any potential increases in design and construction costs should the Urban Planning Council introduce the guidelines as mandatory requirements.
Aside from contributing to the reduction of the UAE’s carbon footprint, and as the global community (and in particular the UAE) becomes more environmentally aware, green buildings may become one of the key features for investors in a property market. This may be an advantage in itself in persuading developers to start voluntarily seeking certification under Estidama or any of the other internationally-recognised green building certification systems.
Gulf Construction

by Amy Ward

Developers in the UAE are well advised to voluntarily seek certification for the sustainability of their buildings to mitigate any potential increases in design and construction costs before the emirates make the sustainable building guidelines mandatory.

With the 2009 World Future Energy Summit having been held in Abu Dhabi last month (January), the focus has once again turned to environmental sustainability in the UAE. (Read more..)

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Building Design

Building designs
by Dennis Brand
Perhaps the best way to describe design and build contracts is to explain what they are not. The traditional design-bid-build contract is a sequential process of phases or stages in which the owner or developer first contracts with a design professional to prepare a concept or basic design, then later a detailed design that is suitable for construction. This will include plans and specifications that when complete will be used to solicit competitive bids and finally the award of a construction contract to the lowest bidder.
In design and build contracts, one entity performs both the design and construction under a single contract. Often the contract is awarded by some process other than competitive bidding, thus it differs from traditional design-bid-build in two ways. First, the design and construction components are packaged into a single contract; second, it is not necessarily awarded to the lowest bidder after competitive bidding.
Why use design and build?
Design and build contracts have the potential to reduce the overall project costs as the contractor performing the design has a better appreciation of the construction costs of the various alternatives. They can therefore produce a design that is less expensive to build and they have an incentive to do so.
Another way to look at this advantage is that it moves value engineering from after the contract award, where the contractor proposes cost reduction ideas and shares the savings with the owner, to pre-award, where the owner enjoys most of the savings.
Design and build contracts may also result in the earlier completion and occupancy of a project as there is no downtime between the completion of a design and start of construction. Furthermore, the contractor can begin construction of early phases of the project, such as grading and foundations, before the design of later phases like the building envelope and MEP systems are complete.
This process is sometimes referred to as fast-track. It eliminates the traditional liability gap that can occur when the design is produced by a consultant and the contractor constructs the design under a separate contract. Design professionals can obtain insurance coverage for professional liability insurance only, which covers negligence, error and omissions. Virtually all design contracts limit their liability to this.
However, there can be non-negligent errors and omissions on the part of the designer that cost the owner money, but for which the designer is not liable. One example of this is where the designer undertakes reasonable subsurface investigations but fails to detect a rocky outcrop that will require additional work on the part of the construction contractor.
In the traditional design-bid-build approach, the owner warrants the correctness of the plans and specifications to the construction contractor. In the event of an error where the contractor incurs additional costs, these are met by the owner with little prospect of recovery from the designer. Design and build contracts eliminate this gap because the is solely responsible for defective plans, specifications or differing site conditions.
When a project is designed around current generation products, any proposed substitution of new or alternative items following bidding may require revisions to the structure, mechanical or electrical components to accommodate the new design. In such occasions the question arises: who will pay for the resulting charges? Design and build contracts solve this problem: the contractor selects the equipment then designs the building around this, which seems a more logical way to proceed.
The traditional design-bid-build method of contracting can suffer from under-optimisation when individual project participants seek to optimise their own positions. For example, the total cost to the owner of a building’s steel frame includes the cost of the engineering to determine the required steel sections plus that of the steel. The designer has little incentive to minimise the amount of structural steel, their concern is only to spend sufficient design time to ensure that there is enough steel to meet both gravity and seismic loads.
With design and build contracts, the contractor has an incentive to use additional engineering in order to achieve the optimum amount of steel required for the structure. That is not to say that this type of contract results in unsafe or less efficient structures, rather that it reduces unnecessary quantities of materials and equipment that do not necessarily add to the robustness of the structure.
Design and build contracts may reduce the administrative burden on the owner as there is one award and one contract to administer. The total cost of the project becomes apparent earlier. In traditional design-bid-build jobs, construction costs are not known until bid opening and it is possible to spend money on a design that the owner may not be able to build. Frequently construction bids exceed the project budget, which results in it having to be redesigned, thus delaying completion.
The risk factors
Under a traditional design-bid-build contract arrangement the owner has full control over the details of the plans and specifications. It does not publish them for bids until it is satisfied that they reflect their requirements. With design and build contracts the owner gives up some of this control.
Moreover, the owner must confirm its needs much earlier. With traditional design-bid-build contracts, if the owner is indecisive on its needs, it can clarify them during the design phase. With design and build projects, however such changes can be very expensive and disruptive, impacting on both costs and completion.
To summarise, if the owner is not certain what they want, due to the expense in making changes after contracts are awarded, the more traditional design-bid-build method may be the best choice.

Building designs

by Dennis Brand

Perhaps the best way to describe design and build contracts is to explain what they are not. The traditional design-bid-build contract is a sequential process of phases or stages in which the owner or developer first contracts with a design professional to prepare a concept or basic design, then later a detailed design that is suitable for construction. This will include plans and specifications that when complete will be used to solicit competitive bids and finally the award of a construction contract to the lowest bidder. (Read more..)

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Asbestos management in the UAE

Asbestos management in the UAE
by Charles Faulkner
Each year almost 100,000 people die worldwide due to asbestos related disease, which is more than the number of lives taken by skin cancer. Asbestos related diseases are now the greatest occupational killer in world history and the figures continue to rise.
In the UAE there is a commonly-held belief that asbestos is only a problem in Europe and North America, where the horror stories of exposure, litigation, compensation and death – not necessarily in that order – are well publicised. But, asbestos is not perceived as an issue for the Emirates.
As a construction risk management consultant, it initially shocked me to find out that there was not an absolute prohibition against the use of all Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) in the UAE as recommended by the World Health Organisation, especially as the UAE is at the forefront of many aspects of building design and new technology. It is still legally permitted to import asbestos for the manufacture and subsequent use of asbestos cement pipes for the purpose of water supply and sewerage.
Furthermore the use of asbestos board in the Emirates has only been banned since November 2006, shattering the myth that asbestos is only present within older buildings. In fact over 17,000 tonnes of asbestos was imported and consumed in the UAE in 2007* – its most evident utilisation being the construction industry.
Any work with ACMs can present a risk to human health, and it is well established that there is no known safe level of exposure to any type of asbestos fibre. Those most at risk from the harmful effects of asbestos include construction workers, particularly those involved in demolition and refurbishment activities and asbestos water pipe installation, and tradesmen such as electricians, plumbers and carpenters.
It is not uncommon for those unknowingly exposed to asbestos to spread the deadly fibre through contaminated equipment and clothing, leading to the so called “secondary exposure” of work colleagues, family and friends. The American and European press regularly report the tragic stories of families whose lives have been devastated by asbestos related deaths, usually in women and children, attributed to contaminated clothing and second hand asbestos exposure.
The only way to reduce the hazards of ACMs in the construction industry is to prohibit the use of ACMs (voluntarily and legislatively), use safer substitute materials, and proactively manage the remaining residual risk from each of the activities that are associated with asbestos exposure.
From a legal and ethical point of view, employers must understand that prevention to exposure is paramount and where this is not possible they must assess the work and provide their employees with the appropriate procedures, control measures, personal protective equipment and respiratory protective equipment. Current legislation must be adhered to, and a best practice guideline implemented.
WSP Environment and Energy in association with the non-profit health and safety organisation Buildsafe UAE will form a focus group this month to produce workable guidelines that will not only comply with both local and federal legislation but also develop industry health and safety best practice procedures. The procedures will detail the safe systems of work for asbestos related activities and then be distributed to Buildsafe UAE members.
Only by collectively acknowledging that there is a risk from ACMs in the UAE construction industry and addressing that risk can we play our part in putting an end to unnecessary asbestos related deaths.

by Charles Faulkner

Each year almost 100,000 people die worldwide due to asbestos related disease, which is more than the number of lives taken by skin cancer. Asbestos related diseases are now the greatest occupational killer in world history and the figures continue to rise. (Read more..)

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Building Failure

by Mohammed Azad Hossain

Building components tend to fail depending on materials, designs, method of construction, environmental conditions and the use to which the building is put. Substandard materials and design errors are major causes of component failure. (Read more..)

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Surviving the Slowdown: A Current Analysis of the UAE Construction Industry

by Omar Al Saadoon

The title of this article does not suggest the fear of stakeholders in the construction industry in the UAE or any other country affected by the global downturn is wholly irrational. No, on the contrary, the fact the UAE is currently experiencing a dramatic and unprecedented slowdown in its construction industry (which apparently accounts in part for Dubai’s first budget deficit in 2009) is symptomatic of the global fear of the instability of global financial markets and the ability of banks to lend to the public and each other. It is difficult to guage the actual effect of the downturn on the local construction industry given the UAE does not publish its GDP date on a quarterly basis. (Read more..)

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The Effect of the Recession on Partnering in the Construction Sector

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Implementing Strategic Management in Construction

By Samer H Skaik 

Introduction
Strategic thinking has engaged the brains of business leaders for centuries. Many books and researches have been developed to cover the strategy subject because of its importance. Organizations always seek to adopt dynamic and effective strategic management to secure proper growth and remain competitive.

Strategic management is necessary to any organisation particularly those working in construction where there is a rapidly changing environment with adverse competition and surprises which may act as serious threats to organisation stability. (Read more..)

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Stats needed to put clause into effect

by Conrad Egbert

A lack of government indices and statistics for the UAE construction sector is making it difficult to incorporate ‘escalation clauses’ into contracts, according to industry experts. (Read more..)

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Construction industry still suffering from skills shortage despite the recession

Results from the Chartered Institute of Building’s (CIOB) third annual skills survey show that the industry is still suffering a skills shortage despite the recession and downturn in construction demand. (Read more..)

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