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Story | Community
28 February 2021

Why QF’s HQ is setting a sustainable standard


2015 building at Education City receives GSAS certification, and represents an example of how to operate a ‘green’ building

Qatar Foundation’s headquarters – the 2015 building at Education City – has been awarded a top regional sustainability ranking from the Gulf Organisation for Research & Development (GORD) for setting an example of how a building can be operated in an eco-friendly way.

A project’s overall carbon footprint is defined by the design, construction and operations stages combined

Dr. Yousef Alhorr

The building received the Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS) Operations Certificate from GORD with a ‘gold’ rating after being assessed by sustainability experts, reflecting Qatar Foundation’s (QF) role as a leader of sustainability and its efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of its own environment.

Dr. Yousef Alhorr, Founding Chairman of the Gulf Organisation for Research and Development, said: “When it comes to green building certifications, we see that the focus of project owners and developers is largely on meeting sustainability standards in design and construction stages only.

Dr. Yousef Alhorr, Founding Chairman of GORD.

“While these efforts are praiseworthy, it is not the end but only the beginning of a project’s journey towards sustainability. In reality, a project’s overall carbon footprint is defined by the design, construction and operations stages combined, and the largest part of it in relation to the age of the buildings is determined by how they are operated and managed.

From its first day of operation, QF has been dedicated to ensuring that the 2015 building is an exemplar of sustainability – not only in its design, but in how it is run and how it is used

Hamad Mohamed Al Kuwari

“Almost all government projects in Qatar have adopted GSAS standards for design and construction. However, the application of sustainability requirements in the operations and management of buildings is still in its early stages and has not gained much traction yet. By opting for GSAS Operations to monitor and improve its environmental performance, Qatar Foundation has taken a pioneering step, and the organization’s initiative also represents a practical implementation of Qatar’s efforts to combating the effects of climate change and charting out the strategies to confront it."

Hamad Mohamed Al Kuwari, Executive Director of City Operations, Qatar Foundation, said: “From its first day of operation, QF has been dedicated to ensuring that the 2015 building is an exemplar of sustainability – not only in its design, but in how it is run and how it is used.

“Even buildings which have the highest standards of sustainable design can only truly be environmentally-friendly, and educate people about the importance of sustainability, if they are continually operated as a green building. QF’s commitment to both practicing and promoting sustainability is illustrated through the way in which we continue to operate our headquarters, from its use of energy and water to the measures we have implemented to manage waste.

“We are delighted that these efforts to make the 2015 building a standard-bearer for sustainable operations have been recognized through the awarding of the GSAS Operations certification from GORD.”

GSAS is the MENA region’s first green building certification system that assesses and guides projects on how they reduce their environmental footprint during the design, construction and operation stages. Its Operations scope focuses on the impact of buildings once occupied, as their operational and maintenance practices have a direct impact on the natural environment, the economy, and people’s health. The GSAS Operations certification program aims to lessen a building’s environmental footprint while also improving the wellbeing of its occupants.

Hamad Mohamed Al Kuwari, Executive Director of City Operations at QF.

The 2015 building has 11 storeys and a total floor area spanning 27,366 sqm, accommodating numerous QF departments and executive offices. Designed with sustainability and energy efficiency in mind, the operations and maintenance of all its facilities were thoroughly analyzed before it received its Gold rating for the GSAS Operations certification, which is valid for four years.

To achieve this rating, the building was evaluated in six categories: energy performance, indoor environment, waste management, facility management, water performance, and environmental policy and awareness. The assessment included thermal imaging analysis of the building envelope, energy and water labelling, indoor environmental quality analysis, and techno-commercial analysis of its energy management opportunities. Additionally, the building’s indoor environmental quality and waste and facility management practices were assessed and found to be in line with industry standards.

QF’s headquarters is connected to an Education City-wide district cooling system; an energy-efficient heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system; and automated systems for the control and monitoring of energy and water use. The landscape surrounding the building features native and adaptive species of flora that help to reduce the consumption of water for irrigation. Meanwhile, waste accumulated from within the building is segregated at source for responsible disposal and recycling, which will be further enhanced with the development of an upcoming waste management and recycling system within Education City.

The GSAS Operations Certification for QF’s 2015 building was presented at a socially-distanced ceremony at Education City.

The operational environmental impact of the 2015 building was assessed against the ways in which operators of a facility can mitigate negative impact on the environment. Following the audit, a list of recommended energy and water management opportunities (EMOs) were provided to encourage further improvement in sustainable facility management and energy and water efficiency, based on industrially-accepted engineering and statistical techniques and site audits.

Buildings that successfully implement the recommended EMOs can have a significantly reduced impact on the environment and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Based on the emission factors defined by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, it is estimated that the suggested EMOs for QF’s 2015 building will help to avoid 1,317 tonnes of CO2 and 640 tonnes of coal emissions, and result in 230 fewer cars on the road, 327 acres of trees being planted, and energy savings equivalent to annual electricity usage of 247 households.

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