Dubai is not exactly the pinnacle of eco architecture: a megacity in the middle of the desert, built with the profits of fossil fuel. This makes it all a bit hard to believe that Dubai and the broader UAE region are striving to be fossil-free by 2050. Can it be done?

Eco architecture

Smart palm trees

In a region that sees hardly any rainfall, has no significant cropland and where a whopping 75% of the energy is absorbed by air conditioning and simply cooling down houses, offices and -as of recently- even the outside air, it seems hard to believe that going green is on the agenda of the desert emirs. But there are some promising signs of improvement. In Dubai, ‘smart’ palm trees are sprouting up everywhere. These man-made structures in the shape of palm trees provide solar power, shade and wi-fi. 

The power of the sun

Besides plenty of money, the Emirates also have plenty of sunshine. For anyone who’s ever been to a desert country knows that the sun is more often a curse than a blessing. However, when it comes to renewable energy, the oil-guzzling Emirates of the past might be set up perfectly for a solar-powered future. Out in the desert, Dubai is building the world’s biggest solar power plant that, when finished in 2030, will be able to power up to 1.3 million homes. 

The sustainable city: eco architecture in the middle of the scorching desert

And then there is another project in the making. On the southern outskirts of the Middle East metropolis, a remarkable project is being tested. The Sustainable City is essentially an energy-independent suburb that produces more energy than it uses. This green project consists of 2.700 residents in 500 residential villas and recycles wastewater. While this is still a small-scale project, even in the gas-guzzling desert states the urgency of going renewable has dawned. In the UAE, the targets have been set to 25% renewable energy by 2030 and 75% by 2050. 

So as much of a contradiction as it may seem at first, the idea of the Middle Eastern desert states on the forefront of green energy development doesn’t seem too far-fetched at all. This region has an abundance of sunshine and vast amounts of empty space. And as we have seen for the last century onward, they are pretty good at trading in energy and making a hefty profit while doing so. So if the money and the resources are there, the only thing that’s needed is the will to do so. And that seems to finally be the case, as projects like the sustainable city and the world’s biggest solar power plant clearly show. If a bunch of oil sheikhs in the desert can do it, what’s our excuse?

Sustainability in building techniques

Another very important factor that goes together with green energy, eco architecture and everything that comes with it is sustainability during the building process. This broad concept can be applied in many different ways during the construction of eco architecture. From the use of sustainable building materials to streamlining the entire process from 3D drawing program to turning the keys. As an eco-architect, it’s important to make sure that everything is as efficient as can be. 

Show your eco architecture online to your clients

If you are looking for an online and interactive way to show your 3D designs to your clients, check out Xuver. Xuver is a 3D platform that allows you to turn your 3D drawing (SketchUp, ARCHICAD, Revit or IFC) into an interactive 3D design that you and your client can walk through together. While doing so, you can use the voice module for live explanations. All your clients will be able to truly understand your designs in no-time. For the eco architect, using Xuver is extra interesting as it reduces traveling time and therefore has a positive impact on the carbon footprint of a project.