Saudi Arabia features 956 registered and 235 LEED projects. Expert to unveil outlook for Green Buildings in the Kingdom at The Big 5 Saudi 2017

Mario Seneviratne, Director of Green Technologies, LEED Fellow and Faculty Member of U. S. Green Building Council has encyclopedic knowledge on matters of green and sustainable energy practices, with business know-how stretching all corners of the globe. And on the week of March 27th-30th, during the Saudi Big 5, he will extract from his vast experience key Sustainability, LEED and energy optimization tips that will go a long way towards designing, building and operating greener, more sustainable structures. 

“One presentation will discuss LEED tips that are effective and easy to use that both Architects and Engineers can implement to generate a significant impact on energy consumption and saving,” said Seneviratne.

Not all matters of energy conservation are easy. In fact, most are difficult or complicated to achieve. For example, trying to ‘increase Pumping System or Chiller System Efficiency’ is easier said than done from an engineering standpoint.

“Replacing a 100-watt incandescent lamp with a 15 watt LED is easy and quick, but improving the efficiency of a chilled water system is more complicated involving not one but several components such as pumps, control valves, and fan coil units,” explained Seneviratne.

“My intention is to show how simple Architectural and Engineering tweaks can be effectively implemented and modelled with great impact.”

He provides a few hints. 

He said: “This is not the architects’ cup of tea, but during the design process, they have as much responsibility as engineers do when it comes to energy matters.”

Selecting the right window for a specific built structure requires tradeoffs between design aesthetics and energy performance, such as heat gain, where glass thickness, window height, and location, among others, play a role in determining energy impacts.

“Architects need to know how energy transfers,” said Seneviratne.

“Changing a window height from 2m to 3m, or placing them on the west side instead of the north, will have a huge impact on energy. Furthermore, choosing Mahogany hues or black floor tiles will require additional lighting than light colors.”

Engineers look to ensure for example that HVAC systems perform at peak conditions that favor minimum energy use.

“Engineers look at how to air-condition an entire space or small sections of it, measuring supply air temperature, return air temp, and so on, but sometimes architectural designs don’t allow the engineer to do this job.”

Dubai has been known as the most sustainable city in the region. The UAE has 1619 registered LEED Projects and 267 certified, while Saudi has 956 registered and 235 LEED projects, according to the latest the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI).

“Saudi Arabia also has a sophisticated LEED market but because the construction market is so large compared to the UAE, the percentage of these projects is smaller,” said Seneviratne. There are some iconic LEED projects such as at Princess Noura University, where were more than 14 on campus buildings were designed and certified to meet LEED standards, a large number of buildings at King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD), but also at KAUST, KAPSARC, SABIC, Prince Mohammad Abdul Aziz Airport, and Others. According to the Saudi Green Building Council, there are 914 LEED certifications, including 870 LEED activities for Home projects in Saudi.

“We handle several LEED projects in Saudi, where in one we have 625 homes in Riyadh, and have completed a very sophisticated Net Zero building for SABIC,” said Seneviratne.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, buildings certified LEED could consume 25% less energy, 11% less water, and emit 34% less greenhouse gases than non-LEED certified buildings and, perhaps more interestingly, score 27% higher in occupant satisfaction.

A white paper by Honeywell, a couple of years ago, based on a survey of some 600 buildings in the ME region, found that LEED buildings have the best compliance with green energy targets, improve the quality of Human Health, enhance energy and water consumption. 

“LEED checks and balances in the design process will lower the cost of the project greatly if done in a timely and objective manner,” said Seneviratne.

Seneviratne’s other presentation will tackle how LEED helps Optimize a building’s Operation and Maintenance (O&M) in existing buildings.

“The Saudi market still doesn’t take LEED O&M as seriously as others in the region, simply because energy and water costs have traditionally been cheap and thus people were not concerned about a building’s running costs,” said Seneviratne.

“Saudi is sophisticated in many ways, and awareness of O&M best LEED practices will make it a more mature market in terms of energy savings, this coupled with the fact that energy tariffs are increasing.”

According to published reports, and in an effort to reduce dependence on energy subsidies, the Saudi government have launched a cash-transfer program for low- and middle-income households before again increasing energy prices in 2017. This program will cost 25 billion riyals in 2017, rising to 60 billion by 2020, but the government is expecting to save 210 billion riyals per year by 2020 by gradually phasing out subsidies. Saudi had increased diesel, natural gas, ethane, diesel, kerosene, electricity and water prices as part of the government’s five-year plan to reduce subsidies by 2020.

For more insights on LEED and how it can help you understand the easiest techniques involved in green energy practices, attend Seneviratne’s talks at the Saudi Big 5, as per the following schedule.

Workshop 1: LEED Energy Saving Tips that are Effective and Easy to Use. (29th March 2017, 4:15pm to 6:30pm)

Workshop 2 - LEED for Existing Buildings - Operations and Maintenance (30th March 2017, 1:15pm to 3:30pm)

To know more about The Big 5 Saudi 2017, visit 

About The Big 5 Saudi

Connecting the construction industry in Saudi Arabia

28 - 31 March 2022 - Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center.

Celebrating the 10th anniversary of The Big 5 Saudi - the Kingdom's leading construction event

Expected to attract 14,000+ visitors, the 10th edition of The Big 5 Saudi brings under one roof over 300 manufacturers of construction products from around the world. 

An ideal platform for construction industry professionals to network, secure qualified leads and close business deals, The Big 5 Saudi 2022 displays the latest innovations across dedicated product sectors.

The event also offers CPD (Continuing Professional Development) certified workshops, which are free to attend and delivered by renowned industry experts. 

To learn more about the event, visit

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