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Construction Sector in Oman

Describe about the Construction Management for Sustainable Construction.

In the last few decades, Oman has been experiencing a huge economic growth owing to the flourishing of its oil and gas production. This development has added to the blooming of construction sector in the form of several new infrastructure projects. However, owing to the country’s deteriorating environmental condition, the country is coming up with strategies to implement sustainable construction practices. The following report identifies the ways and to what extent has the Omani Government been successful in promoting sustainable construction practices and what are the immediate challenges in the way.

Oman is ditching the stereotypical building designs to incorporate environmental friendly constructions. Several construction projects have already started working to follow sustainable building practices. A government-owned investment, asset, and development Management Company called Omran is presently developing four tourism sector projects following sustainable building practices. Oman’s gas and oil production is relatively lower than the other GCC countries and comes with increased production cost (S. Saleh and Alalouch, 2015). Due to rapid growth in economy and population, the demands for power and water are increasing at a rapid rate. Oman’s government is promoting sustainable construction practices to reduce water and power consumption and to minimize the ill effects of the rapid growth of construction. To ascertain the practice of sustainable building construction, a case study has been carried out by Sultan Qaboos University to identify challenges in implementing such practices. The case study involved designing, building, and operating a house which will be both energy and cost effective. The building design assessment included assessing the conceptual design and the designs were compared to LEED models designs for sustainable building designs (S. Saleh and Alalouch, 2015).

The Research Council is conducting more such events and competitions to promote innovative ideas and research on green building, eco-designs, sustainable construction practices, and environmental protection. A nonprofit and non-governmental organisation, Oman Green Building Council was established in the year 2012 with an attempt to promote green building concept and sustainable building practices (Zainul Abidin and Powmya, 2014). The council is actively promoting green building concept through seminars and conferences. Presently, Oman has over 15 sustainable building projects registered with the green building promoting company LEED. Notable establishments in Oman joining hands for LEED certification include Oman Botanic Garden, The Oberoi Resort at Bander Al Khiran, Salalah Internationa; Airport, Muscat International Airport, the Novotel hotel, Muttrah, Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre, and The Ibis Hotel, Sohar (Zainul Abidin and Powmya, 2014).

Role and effectiveness of current government strategies within Oman to delivering sustainable construction

The Alila Jabal Akhada resort, developed by the Oman Tourism Development Company SAOC, is the country’s first to have gained the LEED certification for green building (Jabal Akhdar, 2015).

Green buildings developed by LEED are constructed by following environment-friendly procedures and are fully resource efficient throughout a specific building’s life cycle (Norplan, 2016).

One of the effective and essential driving forces in encouraging sustainable building practices in Oman is the country’s Government’s involvement. The government offers monetary support, incentives in order to encourage building construction companies to turn to green building concepts. Financial incentives in the form of fee reduction or waiver, tax credits or abatement, and loans and grants are being offered by Oman’s government to encourage developers to follow sustainable building practices and green building concepts (Zainul Abidin and Powmya, 2014).

The country’s government has also established a set of corresponding policy instruments to help the building industries in Oman. Oman government is actively engaged in encouraging more and more sustainable constructions. A local funding organization and policy developing body called The Research Council was established in the year 2005 with aims to promote innovations in Oman. The government body is actively promoting green building concept and sustainable practice research efforts by conducting Oman Eco-House Design competitions (S. Saleh and Alalouch, 2015). This and many other such competitions are open to universities, colleges and higher education institutes in Oman to come up with innovative ideas and designs on sustainable constructions. The competitions prove to be challenging academic exercises. Such kind of initiative by the government will pull young minds into thinking in the path of sustainable and green building practices. The Government’s approach to promoting sustainable building concept is being supported by The Oman Green Building Council (OGBC). OGBC established in the year 2012, further, supports studying and researching into Oman’s nascent eco-construction designs. OGBC is also actively promoting green building concepts through various seminars, conferences, forums, and other public meetings wherein the ideas and the advantages of such sustainable ideas are put forth and explained to the common public and construction industry (S. Saleh and Alalouch, 2015).

Many recent studies have found out the existence of potential challenges and barriers restricting the implementation of green building concept and following sustainable building practices.

When constructing any kind of building, the main objective of investors is the economic revenue.  Economic revenue is thus an essential factor that impacts the implementation of environment-friendly green buildings. Building a green building with efficient energy and cost effectiveness is no doubt going to increase the construction costs. Many construction industries operating in Oman apprehend that the cost of constructing sustainable buildings will awfully raise the cost of construction and the economic revenue from the same will not be profitable. Studies show that for building green structures, the cost will go high by almost 18-20%. Besides, construction time is also a big factor. Construction delays will surely further increase the cost of construction as the construction of sustainable buildings will require incorporating green technologies along with other construction requirements (S. Saleh and Alalouch, 2015).

Key barriers which are restricting the progress of delivering sustainable construction in Oman

Public awareness about the looming environmental problems is a big task and further explaining them the need of highly expensive environment-friendly buildings is an added task. This is a very critical barrier to the success of delivering sustainable building practices. Furthermore, even though a major portion of Oman population is aware of the rising environmental problems, they often opine that environment protection is solely the local government’s responsibility. Lack of sufficient fiscal incentives from the government of Oman is another critical barrier to the implementation of green buildings and sustainable building practices (S. Saleh and Alalouch, 2015).

To construct buildings that follow the sustainable building practices and have efficient cost and energy effectiveness, it is important to use advanced technologies. Use of equipment and green materials for constructing such environmental friendly buildings is of primary importance. Limited availability of such technologically advanced equipment and green materials in the indigenous markets poses a significant challenge in implementing sustainable building practices. Another big challenge is the performance uncertainty of such materials and technologies. Building constructing industries and investors consider it economically risky to utilize such equipment and green materials for constructing green buildings and later finding out they have no useful functions (S. Saleh and Alalouch, 2015).

Strengths

Government’s strategy to divert its economic revenue from Oman’s oil-producing sectors is being positively developed. This step to reduce the country’s dependency on their oil-producing sectors will help reduce environmental stress to some extent. This strategy will also help to increase the growth of infrastructure and the development of the tourism industry. The Omani government has expressed its interest in doing business with foreign investors and companies. Omani government is trying to attract the private sector so as to do more business with them and reduce their dependency on oil exports. Omani government has also expressed their keenness to take measures which will attract capitalized banks. This step will attract well-capitalized banks that can fund Oman’s financial activities (EBSCO Host Connection, 2012).

The government is also promoting sustainable building practices in the public building constructions and tourism sector. This will, in turn, attract a number of foreign investors; help reduces environmental problems, and reduce the increasing demand for energy and water (EBSCO Host Connection, 2012).

The country does not yet have any kind of railway networks. The absence of railway networks has weakened its trade relationship with neighboring countries. The country is only dependent on its network of roads, these road networks need to be expanded. Political unrest is yet to disappear completely. Even though public protests regarding various political and cultural issues have eased, uncertainty continues near the border areas, mostly in Yemen. This kind of unrest and issues is a serious blow to Oman’s economy as the number of foreign investors and tourist is dwindling. The continuous geopolitical tensions have the potential to cause dramatic changes in Oman (EBSCO Host Connection, 2012).

The tourism network apart from being threatened by political unrest is growing at a rapid speed. The country also inaugurated their first sustainable designed resort in association with Omran. This and other exclusive resorts and well-maintained tourists’ destinations have increased the number of tourist walk-ins in the country. The government is providing huge incentives and investments for infrastructure and transport development. This kind of offers has immense potential for opportunities. Diversification of economy decision taken by the Omani government is expected to give rise to several new construction contracts. This kind of diversification will also lead to a number of investments towards infrastructure (Business Today, 2013).

The country’s attempt to extract more and more oil and gas is expected to pose an alarming threat to the country’s environment. Any kind of downward movement of raw prices will negatively affect oil revenue thereby limiting the Omani government’s investment supports for newer infrastructure projects. Political unrest can pose a serious threat to the country’s economy by turning away potential foreign investors (Business Today, 2013).

The United Kingdom is leading the world in terms of sustainable construction practices. Oman should draw an inference from the kind of strategies the UK government is implementing in order to follow sustainable building practices. The United Kingdom is working towards reducing the country’s carbon footprint and also reducing consumption of non-renewable natural resources. Oman is one of the leading countries when it comes to producing oil and gas. Oman needs to come up with alternative sources of fuel so as to gradually reduce their consumption of oil, gas, and other non-renewable resources (Newman, 2008). By doing so, they can divert their investment in constructing green buildings. The Omani government needs to implement research strategies like the United Kingdom. They need to first research, design, and construct structures and examine their certainty and also cost as well as energy effectiveness. Only when such an approach sees positive results, then only Omani government should go forth with the development of green constructions on a larger scale. Buildings are responsible for more than half of the carbon emissions and water consumption of a country. Oman needs to invite expert construction engineers from the United Kingdom to help them build structures that will release reduced amount of carbon dioxide and reduce the amount of water consumption. This way they will have the best architects and engineers who are an expert in the field of developing green buildings (Newman, 2008).  Omani government also needs to implement awareness programs like the United Kingdom to educate the citizens of Oman regarding the concept of Sustainable Building practice and the ways of implementing it. Oman must identify potential strategies like the United Kingdom so as to increase the profitability by making use of resources more efficiently. Oman can join hands with the United Kingdom for making its environment pollution free and building more and more green buildings. They can import green materials and equipment from the United Kingdom too (Newman, 2008).

Conclusion

The following report concludes that even though Oman has done a fruitful job in promoting sustainable building practices, such construction practices are only in the initial stages in Oman. The government of Oman needs to come up with more strategies to encourage the construction industry to build green buildings and follow sustainable construction practices. The implementation of such innovations can effectively contribute to Oman’s development by reducing the country’s consumption of non-renewable natural resources. In the face of rapid growth of economy and population, this kind of implementation will also help in reducing the country’s dependency on water and energy and divert its economy to various infrastructure developments.

References

Business Today. (2013). Construction industry shows great promise. [online] Available at: https://www.businesstoday.co.om/Issues/TOWARDS-A-CONSTRUCTIVE-FUTURE/Construction-industry-shows-great-promise [Accessed 25 Nov. 2016].

EBSCO Host Connection. (2012). SWOT Analysis. [online] Available at: https://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/74680463/swot-analysis [Accessed 25 Nov. 2016].

Jabal Akhdar, A. (2015). Oman celebrates first LEED project. [online] Construction Business News. Available at: https://www.cbnme.com/on-site/total-conservation/ [Accessed 25 Nov. 2016].

Newman, J. (2008). STRATEGY FOR SUSTAINABLE CONSTRUCTION. 1st ed. [ebook] London: Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform. Available at: https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/https:/www.bis.gov.uk/files/file46535.pdf [Accessed 25 Nov. 2016].

Norplan. (2016). Breen Building & Leed. [online] Available at: https://www.norplan-oman.com/green-buildings/ [Accessed 25 Nov. 2016].

Saleh, M. and Alalouch, C. (2015).Towards Sustainable Construction in Oman: Challenges & Opportunities. [online] Global System for Sustainable Development. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877705815020718 [Accessed 25 Nov. 2016].

Zainul Abidin, N. and Powmya, A. (2014). Drivers for Green Construction in Oman and its Future Prospects. 1st ed. [ebook] Malaysia: IDOSI. Available at: https://www.idosi.org/mejsr/mejsr21(6)14/10.pdf [Accessed 25 Nov. 2016].

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