Sustainability in Saudi Arabia

This a  review which studies the following areas in Saudi Arabia as part of the general regional review by UNDP for the region:
• Status of sustainable building approaches and policies and lessons learned.
• Identify case studies of policies and approaches that promote efficient use of resources at the city level and integrated resource management
• Identify to what extent there are sustainable building trends in each country;
• Identify policies and/or programs established by national or local authorities to support sustainable buildings and barriers to their implementation.

“The Kingdom is on the right track to implement green building projects throughout the Kingdom.” Rick Fedrizzi, president and CEO of US Green Building Council and chair of the World Green Building Council at the time.

Saudi Arabia is moving toward sustainability and has the intention to implement the concept of sustainability on both building and city levels.

Currently, 91 Buildings are LEED certified, 220 are registered in USGBC for LEED certificate, 191 LEED for homes residential and commercial units in addition to many buildings which are considered green without having been certified from any of the known organizations such as USGBC or BREEM. There are no official statistics of the accurate number of sustainable projects/buildings in Saudi Arabia.  The King Abdullah Financial District is a landmark project in scale, rating attainment and innovative technologies not yet replicated in the MENA region.

For more details, please refer to

Policies and programs

Saudi Arabia is putting Policies, Laws, Decrees and Technical Standards to enforce the application of sustainability concepts in different levels of the urban development activities. Examples of these policies and programs are:

  1. Guidelines from HOK+ Aramco
  2. Ministry of Water and Energy (MOWE) issued a Decree to mandate the application of thermal insulation in all the residential and commercial buildings.
  3. The Presidency of Meteorology and Environment (PME) March 2014 Announcement
  4. Saudi Building Code, Energy Consumption (Code 601)

There are some official l authorities for  sustainable building such as:

  1. Saudi Green Building Council
  2. A Green Buildings department in the Saudi Council of Engineers

Case studies for projects where green building practices have been implemented in construction projects 

  1. King Fahd National Library, Riyadh
  2. King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC), Riyadh
  3. KAUST, Jeddah
  4. King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) , Riyadh

At city level, there are some initiatives and programs by local and International authorities such as:

  1. King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KA.CARE)
  2. Saud Energy Efficiency Program – Saud Energy Efficiency Center
  3. The National Environmental Awareness and Sustainable Development Program
  4. Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs (MOMRA) Guidelines for applying sustainability in urban planning design, 2005.
  5. National Energy Efficiency Programme (NEEP)
  6. Future Saudi Cities Program

To boost the momentum towards Sustainability, public media programs should target residents, with incentives to be set by the authorities to potential investors and developer /builders,

There are initiatives encouraging cities to apply sustainability, but it isn’t reaching the hoped-for level, this is due to the scattered efforts of specific institutions or individual efforts and the lack of concerted effort with an umbrella organization that can direct all the initiatives and programs and make them work in harmony integrating to achieve the ultimate goal of a Sustainable City.

The policy makers are focusing on articulating different programs and guidelines, but to make these efforts fruitful, an increase in public awareness of the environmental and the community concerns in addition to introducing incentives for users, investors, and developers to encourage them to implement sustainable practices at the buildings, neighborhoods and city levels.

Prepared By:

Samer Kamal


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