Purpose of Green Building Code
Categories of construction that are subject to the QSAS
Outlook for green buildings


Following the announcement that Qatar will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the country has witnessed remarkable growth in the construction sector. Qatar has revealed that the cost of the projects being undertaken in anticipation of the event is estimated to be over $250 billion.(1) These projects include:

  • a deep-water seaport ($5.5 billion);
  • a national railway project ($42.9 billion);
  • the new Doha International Airport ($7 billion);
  • the Qatar North Gas Field Development ($20 billion); and
  • ongoing projects that are currently under construction, such as the $14 billion Pearl-Qatar real estate development.(2)

With this expected growth in mind, Qatar has introduced important legislative changes, including the launch of the Qatar Construction Standards 2010 (QCS 2010), which supersede the Qatar National Construction Standards 2007 (QCS 2007). The QCS 2010 introduce a new Green Building Code. Moving to sustainable construction practices may initially result in higher costs, but may also enhance the country's environmental credentials and attractiveness for companies seeking to play a major part in Qatar's forecasted growth.

Purpose of Green Building Code

The purpose of the Green Building Code is to create a sustainable building environment that minimises ecological impact, while addressing the specific regional needs and environment of Qatar. Its stated purpose is the promotion of "environmentally and economically sound design and development techniques in order to design buildings and infrastructure that are sustainable, healthy and affordable."(3) The Green Building Code places emphasis both on technical issues, such as "materials, building components, construction technologies and energy related design concepts,"(4) and on non-technical issues, such as "economic, social sustainability and cultural heritage aspects."(5)


The Green Building Code incorporates a sustainability assessment system known as the Qatar Sustainability Assessment System (QSAS). The QSAS is divided into eight sustainable categories and sets of criteria, each with a direct impact on environmental stress mitigation.(6) Each of the eight categories consists of certain environment-related factors, as follows:

  • urban connectivity (urban environment such as zoning, transportation networks and loadings, including traffic congestion and pollution);
  • site (land use such as land conservation or remediation and site selection, planning and development);
  • energy (energy demand of buildings, the efficiency of energy delivery and the use of fossil energy sources that result in harmful emissions);
  • water (water consumption and its associated burden on municipal supply and treatment systems);
  • materials (material extraction, processing, manufacturing, distribution, use/re-use and disposal);
  • indoor environment (indoor environmental quality such as thermal comfort, air quality, acoustic quality and light quality);
  • cultural and economic value (cultural conservation and support of the national economy); and
  • management and operations (building design management and operations).

Each category measures a different aspect of the project's environmental impact. The categories define these broad impacts and address ways in which a project can mitigate the negative environmental effects.

These categories are broken down into specific criteria that measure and define individual issues,(7) ranging from review of water consumption to assessment of light quality. Each criterion specifies a process for measuring individual aspects of environmental impact and for documenting the degree to which the requirements have been met. A score is then awarded to each criterion based on the degree of compliance(8) and the criterion's level of impact.(9)

Categories of construction that are subject to the QSAS

The building schemes that can be rated with the QSAS include:

  • neighbourhood;
  • commercial;
  • core and shell;
  • residential;
  • schools;
  • mosques;
  • hotels;
  • light industries; and
  • sports facilities.

Furthermore, the types of building covered are categorised as follows:

  • civil buildings – schools, mosques, sports facilities, public buildings and governmental buildings;
  • commercial buildings and core and shell – built-up areas of 10,000 square metres (m2) or more; and
  • residential compounds – built-up areas of 20,000 m2 or more.

Phases that can be rated using the QSAS include the design, construction and operation of buildings.

It is anticipated that the Green Building Code will apply to all existing buildings by 2020.

Outlook for green buildings

As construction activities continue to expand in Qatar, the implementation of the new Green Building Code presents both challenges and opportunities for companies hoping to participate in Qatar's forecasted growth. There is no doubt that the adoption of the new Green Building Code raises the bar in the Qatari construction sector. Although moving to sustainable construction practices will initially entail higher costs, the expectation is that it will also bring both short and long-term savings. Moreover, if Qatar adopts green regulations focusing on existing structures, the retrofit market is likely to experience substantial growth.

For further information on this topic please contact Melina Llodra or Georges Racine at Lalive's Switzerland office by telephone (+41 22 319 87 00) or email ([email protected] or [email protected]). Alternatively, please contact Marcus Boeglin or Ramy Saleh at Lalive's Qatar office by telephone (+974 4496 7247) or email ([email protected] or [email protected]).


(1) See "Qatar reveals ongoing construction projects to be worth over $250 billion", April 19 2012, available at

(2) See "Project Qatar 2012 kicks of another remarkable year", April 29 2012, available at

(3) Qatar Construction Specifications 2010, Section 7, Part 1, 1.1.1(1).

(4) Id, 1.1.1(2)

(5) Id.

(6) Id, 2.2.1(1).

(7) Id, 2.2.1(2).

(8) Id, 2.2.1(3).

(9) All QSAS criteria are performance-based and quantifiable on the scale of -1 to 3 (-1, 0, 1, 2, 3) or 0 to 3, depending on the criterion's level of impact. Id, 2.4.1(1).