It has been over three decades since the term “sustainable development” was coined in Brundtland’s report in 1987, and 28 years have passed since the world’s first sustainability assessment method for buildings was founded by the Building Research Establishment in UK in 1990. During these three decades, many sustainability standards, codes, and rating systems were created and used to help in designing, constructing, maintaining, rating, and labeling buildings with attaining the principles of sustainability. Yet by looking at the Arab world at the beginning of 2019, one can argue that, although the Arab countries have dedicated the effort and budget to save energy, water, and natural resources, the region as a whole is still struggling to shift the paradigm of the building industry from conventional to sustainable. This struggle raises some questions; are there any challenges that Arab countries must overcome to leap forward to a prosperous sustainable building design and construction practices? Why are existing green building rating systems such as Estidama in United Arab Emirates, global sustainability assessment system (GSAS) in Qatar, and ARZ in Lebanon lagging behind the trends of green building rating systems in the developed countries? What are the coordinated steps needed to expedite this movement across the region? The current study explores the limits and potentials of the green building industry in the Arab world through analysis of the green building initiatives, academic scholarship activities in architecture and engineering sectors, and feedback from green building professionals across the Arab world. This article introduces a theoretical framework to expedite the green building movement in the Arab region; the framework is shaped by the environmental, social, and economic factors that are crucial to the transformation of the building industry from conventional to sustainable. The study seeks to support a line of research that could help governments in the Arab world catch up with the global green building trends.
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