Burj Dubai towers above, but at What environmental cost?

burj dubai towers over the middle eastWe covered the grand opening ceremony of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa Tower, formerly called Burj Dubai. But amidst all the fireworks and fanfare, does this 818 meter high monument  to human engineering achievement represent any innovations towards combating global warming, climate change, or other environmental breakthrough – or is it simply another “Tower of Babel,” constructed by misguided human beings still trying to build us a city and a tower with its top in heaven?

The newly completed tower is certainly impressive; with 158 usable stories, more than 50 super fast elevators, and a ground floor foyer that will house the world’s largest indoor fountain. The tower is expected to attract visitors from around the world as well as host a variety of high profile conventions and conferences.

Taking all of this into account, we must also consider the environmental ramifications of this structure which took six years to build, at a cost of more than 4 billion USD, The project’s designers claim that the building and its planned botanical gardens and series of man-made lakes were designed to be as environmentally sustainable as possible, when one takes into account that Dubai is located in a part of the world that has very scanty rainfall and some of the hottest summers on the planet.

It was constructed to withstand the extreme temperature ranges of this Persian Gulf city-state, where external temperatures during the summer can average more than 50 degrees C (122 degrees F).

Another possibly favorable ecological “by-product” of the massive edifice is the large amount of water produced by condensation and so far collected from the air conditioning systems used to keep the entire structure pleasantly cool (estimated at around 15,000 liters), and will be used to provide water for the garden complex that will eventually surround the tower.

The question many may have, however, is what fuel sources are being used to provide the electricity that powers the AC system as well as all the lighting and elevators needed therein?

Mohamed Alabbar, Chairman of Emaar Properties,  the development company behind this project was quoted recently as saying:

“Burj Khalifa is the Arab World’s tribute to the art and science of modern engineering and design. Burj Khalifa symbolizes the aesthetic union of many cultures – from Arabia and the rest of the world.”

For  years now, Dubai has been trying to show the world that this little UAE sheikdom of less than 4 million people (including guest workers) has the world’s most impressive city from an architectural standpoint. Judging from past projects in this showcase Persian Gulf city-state, such as the ultra luxurious Atlantis Hotel Complex, the largest indoor ski slope in the world, and a series of off-shore island projects, including Palm Island and The World (whose ultra high debt crises is the basis for Dubai’s current financial morass), the completed tower could not have been finished at a more problematic time; both environmentally as well as from a financial standpoint.

Photo via www.burjdubai.com

Articles dealing with Burj Dubai, and other questionable development projects:

Burj Tower in Dubai a Steep Investment in Tough Economic and Environmental Times
Mega Developments in Gulf Region a Natural Disaster Waiting to Happen
Dubai’s Artificial The World Island’s Killing Corals and Pushing Nature Out to Sea

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19 thoughts on “Burj Dubai towers above, but at What environmental cost?”

  1. knojnewo says:

    It might be interesting to know that the Burj Khalifa does have a solar hot water system which should save in the region of 690 Mwh per annum

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  6. Gitanjali says:

    Agreed that the Burj could be yet another environmental disaster for Dubai despite some measures to recycle water etc. However financially and ideologically I think Dubai has to keep its best face on – especially with the media frenzy waiting to see the emirati metropolis cave – and in this way the Burj helps to keep the idea of Dubai alive at the least. Besides it took six years to create. Well before the financial crisis had sunk in.

  7. Gitanjali says:

    Agreed that the Burj could be yet another environmental disaster for Dubai despite some measures to recycle water etc. However financially and ideologically I think Dubai has to keep its best face on – especially with the media frenzy waiting to see the emirati metropolis cave – and in this way the Burj helps to keep the idea of Dubai alive at the least. Besides it took six years to create. Well before the financial crisis had sunk in.

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