This week's issue of Construction Week looks at two issues that are foremost in the minds of contractors and project managers: steel procurement and sustainability. The price of steel, as readers of this magazine well know, has been going up for several years now. This has widespread implications, ranging from actual delays in projects getting underway to contracts being renegotiated halfway though a project to take cost increases into account. Yes despite this, there is no sign of the industry slowing down. According to Dubai-based research firm, Proleads, there are over US $1 trillion (AED3.7 trillion) worth of construction projects currently underway in the GCC.
And despite the problems procurement managers are having, estimates put predicted steel consumption for this year at a staggering 19.7 million tonnes. This is all reflected in the cost of steel, which continues to escalate at a rapid pace. Somehow, however, the industry finds a way and projects continue to be announced at a record pace. Is this a sign of resilience or is there an inevitable crunch coming somewhere down the line? Sustainability was the theme of the recent Construction Week conference, ‘Building Sustainability into the Middle East', which was held last week at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel. All the top names in the construction and environmental business were there to share ideas and learn from each other's experiences. The key message to come out of the event was that sustainability does not have to cost a fortune. Of course, getting there isn't easy and this is perhaps where the key challenge lies. First of all, developers have to understand what sustainable means and their architect has to incorporate sustainability into the structure of the building at the design stage. Do architects and designers have the necessary skills, does the industry as a whole know what sustainable means and who should the industry turn to for guidance? Another issue is procuring the materials and fittings required to reduce energy and water consumption. Are the products easily available and supported in the region? Then there is the question of retrofitting old buildings to make them more sustainable. Can it be done and how does one go about it? The construction industry has a key role to play in reducing carbon dioxide emissions and making our world cleaner. Achieving that is likely to be quite a challenge.