Qatar’s LEED Gold Certified Convention Center Helps Cut COP18’s Carbon Footprint
Here we are again. Another global conference focused on climate change that will require flying in thousands of people from all over the world. Yes, to Qatar, of all places, which by some accounts has the world’s highest carbon output per capita. But this little energetic hub in the Middle East is the perfect place to host COP18 for just that reason--let’s start embedding some sustainability thinking in a region that has overlooked it so far. Now the event itself is looking to cut its carbon emissions. The efforts start with the Qatar National Convention Center, situated just outside Doha’s massive Education City. A 3,500 square meter (37,600 square feet) solar array will provide about 12 percent of the center’s power needs; one reason why the convention center is LEED Gold certified. And the UN Secretariat tasked with running the meeting and its logistics will offset some of COP18’s carbon footprint--hugely necessary considering 95 percent of the event’s impact is because of air travel. The UN, however, is focused on reducing the use of paper--COP18 participants voluntarily choose whether they wish to purchase carbon offsets to cancel out their emissions. We don’t know if COP18 will achieve anything noteworthy. But if the event can nudge Qatar’s leadership and people to be more conscious about the impact their oil and gas industry--and their lifestyle--has on the planet, that in itself could be a step in the right direction. And in the end, we need to engage the Middle East--after all, the countries in the Gulf region have the funds to help steer us out of this mess. Photo courtesy QNCC.