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Sultan Alshareef

PhD Researcher
Dept. of Civil, Structural & Environmental Engineering



An assessment of the potential of sustainable construction in Saudi Arabia

Keywords: Construction; sustainable construction; sustainable techniques; developing countries; Saudi Arabia; solar photovoltaic panels PVs; rammed earth; thermal insulation; residential building.

Global construction industry is growing rapidly. Sustainable principles are applied in the developed world. However, these are absent in the majority of constructions in the developing world. This research focuses on Saudi Arabia, which has the most construction activity in the Middle East.  Thus, the country has the potential to introduce more sustainability principles into its design and construction especially in the major cities like Riyadh (the capital), Jeddah and Mecca, which has more than one third of Saudi construction.


There is a need for new green construction laws and regulations considering sustainable construction in Saudi Arabia especially in Mecca where the greatest amount of construction in the Kingdom (approximately 37%) is taking place. Although there are some sustainable buildings in the country, they were built by individual clients or companies with no national green building standards or regulations with regard to sustainable construction. This research intends to seek and propose appropriate sustainable construction practices that can be standardized or widely applied to a significant amount of buildings in future to help achieve sustainability in Saudi Arabian construction.

The literature review found current sustainable practices in construction. Then the research conducted a questionnaire survey that was distributed to one hundred and twenty-nine key people that could demonstrate a sound understanding of sustainability principles. This is to gather information with regard to current and future consideration of sustainable construction practices and applications. Semi-structured interviews followed the questionnaires to seek further information on sustainability.


As a result of the questionnaire and the interviews, respondents and interviewees pointed out a number of potential sustainable applications suitable for Saudi Arabia. According to these and the literature review, three areas of focus were determined: rammed earth, thermal walls, and solar photovoltaic panels (PVs).


These three areas were applied to a case study building using the Integrated Environmental Solutions -Virtual Environment- (IES-VE) software, which simulates the performance of the building before and after application of proposed solutions.


Project Supervisor: Associate Prof. Sara Pavia