Sheikh Mohammed, Prime Minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, has mandated LEED standards beginning next year. 25 projects will be selected for the initial pilot program with an expected roll-out of a “version 2.0” in September of 2008. The main difference is a greater focus on water conservation, as well as an adaptation of the standard LEED credits to the UAE situation. This will cause a revolution among the world’s architects, contractors and engineers, since almost every large American and European firm of consequence is designing and building in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, key cities in the UAE.
Shouldn’t American cities start moving in this direction? Already, 10 cities have taken tentative steps, but none so bold as that of the UAE. The stated reasons include not only energy and water conservation, but also the health and well-being of residents. It’s clear that the UAE will also learn valuable design and construction lessons that can be exported to the rest of the Middle East, as well as other locations around the world. There’s a lot of talk about “green collar jobs” in the U.S., but without extensive practical experience we are likely to fail to capitalize on this opportunity.