Ungreen green buildings

It’s good to see that urban planners in the Emirates and wider Middle East are starting to embrace an approach to urban sustainability that is appropriate to the local context. (“Urban nature doesn’t have to be green, Abu Dhabi summit hears”, The National)

Ecologically-speaking, there’s nothing inherently “bad” about deserts or arid environments. Although they have lower levels of biodiversity compared to a rainforest, they’re still as natural and resilient an ecosystem – and just as worthy of appreciation.

While trees do provide obvious environmental and health benefits, not all cities need to have a lush forest in order to be “green”. There are many other ways of bringing the benefits of natural systems into our buildings and cities, and that includes in arid environments. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to urban sustainability.