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Predications for 2021: Why Sustainable Real Estate Development is the New Normal

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic shook the world economy at large, leaving serious consequences in its wake that impacted both economic sectors and individuals alike - almost paralyzing societies across the globe. Following the months after the pandemic first hit, leaders and decision makers around the globe soon realized the sheer level of uncertainty that came with COVID-19, which posed serious challenges in deliberations in considering the best way forward. Should they plan to gradually go back to the ‘normal’ we all knew, or accept that what came to be known as the “the new normal” was here to stay? Although there is always a middle ground, combined with the fact that different industries were impacted in varying degrees, the common sense of alignment that emerged was the need to support their strategies for a healthier and more sustainable future. It forced leaders to realize what it truly means to be sustainable, and how sustainable development should be a top priority. Essentially, self-reliance, and efficient use of resources in all sectors, including urbanization, agriculture, infrastructure, energy use, water availability, and transportation are to be reassessed to ensure sustainability for future generations. Moreover, the importance of investing in the requisite procedures and considerations to ensure local communities were provided with the minimum requirements to sustain similar situations in the future and maintain their standard of living became a ‘non-negotiable’ consideration in planning future strategies, even though it might not be financially feasible. When considering real estate development, sustainability and design is widely accepted as a good initiative in theory, but what is often overlooked is the necessity and urgency to implement sustainable practices on a macro level, from the early stages of a development. It is still essential that we plan our way out of the pandemic – reorienting towards a sustainable development strategy that prioritizes quality of life for generations to come. Defined by the Brundtland Commission as; “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”, sustainable development is measured across three main objectives that need to work in synergy; economic growth, environmental protection and social inclusion. The most effective way to do this is to shift to a more holistic approach to development, focusing on ideas and solutions that are both sustainable and all-inclusive, facilitating the necessary shift.

In addition to efforts to reduce carbon footprint, real estate developers are the main players in urban development and city planning. Creating lifestyle hubs and communities that cater to many needs is one-way developers can contribute to a healthier economic future. Building residential communities that also allow opportunity for business growth as well as providing entertainment facilities is just one approach. When it came to the planning of Diyar Al Muharraq, the approach in developing the masterplan was to create an integrated city that met the needs of its inhabitants holistically, encouraging close-knit community living because of how the spaces were designed. Beyond this, when it came to the masterplan, it was carefully integrated additional sustainable measures wherever possible, to reduce carbon footprint, whether it was promoting cycling and walking over the use of cars; or seeking out advisers to conduct an Environmental Management plan, to better understand how to integrate sustainable measures into the planning process. From there, the LED lighting were introduced, and solar power were used for the entire irrigation network. As real estate developers have great impact on the future of sustainability it is imperative to present living solutions that benefit society for generations to come, without compromising the environment, and always considering the long-term effects of our plans.