Building green

Building green

Griffin Consultants is a small yet mighty engineering company operating in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Specialising in sustainable designs, energy management, and district cooling, the business has played a major role in a number of major projects across the country, despite the fact that it has only been in operation for a few years. Griffin has also become an increasingly active member of the Emirates Green Building Council (EGBC) - Business Review Middle East speaks to Omnia Halawani, Managing Partner at Griffin Consultants, to explore how the company has been able to reach these milestones in such a short space of time. 

Operations and talent management 

“We provide a range of services for new construction, particularly green buildings. We also do a lot of work for the existing building sector where we are an accredited energy auditor by the Regulatory and Supervisory Bureau of the Government of Dubai.” Halawani says, “We were one of the first accredited energy auditing firms and one of the companies that is carrying out the energy efficiency projects under the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy’s ‘Directive on Energy & Water Efficiency of Buildings for Government Entities in Dubai.’ The project comes in line with the objectives of the Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030 to help achieve the overall energy demand reduction target of Dubai.”

Halawani adds: “Coming from an intensive design background, we provide an added advantage to our clients in the energy auditing sector as we can basically cover both the auditing and the design aspect of a project. We go into the building, we assess it, and we see where it is wasting energy and how the energy can be conserved.”

Griffin Consultants has the holistic expertise at its disposal to provide custom-made solutions to a variety of clients looking to control both energy usage and their carbon footprints. The company’s expertise covers engineering, energy, and technology, whereby it can provide education and consulting, as well as a range of sector-specific certifications. 
In short, the company’s offering encompasses everything from design, design and project management, through to CSR strategy planning, technical studies and a range of services covering commissioning and sustainability. 

 Halawani says: “We are always developing our internal processes and always want to hear our employees’ opinions on how to do things better – both in terms of what they have experienced from their previous employers and what they look forward to experience. It's not authoritarian where we tell them this is how it's done. We would like them to build the company with us as their own.”

“Being a small company helps - our overheads are not very high. We can always price in a competitive way. Being a young company, it takes perseverance and a lot of effort to get clients to trust us with their projects. But once they do, we always see them coming back to us with more projects. 70 percent of our projects are from return clients; which is great.

”This enforces the idea that the quality of the individual engineer working on a project is far more important than the age of the company on paper. We have been recently selected as one of the Top 20 MEP Consultants in the region.

“Being a younger company means that there’s not a lot of negative politics or bureaucratic processes - it's efficient. We are there for each and every project whether they are of small or large – we have found that this gives our clients a lot of confidence in working with us.”

And that is the crux of Griffin Consultants’ unique position in the UAE: a small company with the talent, resources and remit to work on projects normally only meted out to larger organisations. By necessity its team is multi-skilled, which provides a depth of understanding and capability rarely seen in a single office, as Halawani explains. 

She says: “We encourage our staff to take developmental courses and certifications for which all expenses are bourne by the company. We plan to have multiple internal training courses as well.”

“We always have regular team building activities. We have a monthly get together where we talk about the projects and the forecasts. Those monthly meetings would also include a team building fun activity for the team. Each month we give a different employee the task of coming up with the next teambuilding exercise.” 

“We also find great satisfaction in giving back to our community. On an annual basis, we pick a cause that is related to our field of expertise through which we can volunteer our time and effort. Two years ago, we had been, thankfully, given a chance by OpenSource Arc (Humanitarian architecture, UAE) to help them design the concept MEP services for a community center, orphanage, and school to house 300 unfortunate children in Tanzania. 

“We collaborated with a large number of architects and engineers who have voluntarily came together to design this project. This year we are leaving it up to our team to decide what cause we should adopt as a company.”

Driving green 

The firm’s commitment to advancing the UAE green economy is evident on many levels. “Our director is on the Boards of Governors of the local chapters of ASHRAE and CIBSE; the internationally adopted standardizing authorities in the USA and the UK respectively. He aims to help influence the construction industry on how to make it better and greener.” Says Halawani. 

As a leading member of the EGBC, the company is part of a thought-leading organisation that hosts events, provides training and educational courses, and also works across the country to make businesses more environmentally friendly.

“We have committed ourselves to a COP21 pledge, in association with the EGBC. Our pledge is to dedicate one day a month for pro-bono for educational initiatives and other industry efforts that tackle climate change and energy reduction causes. We have also committed ourselves to influence our clients and customers to make better and more environmentally-friendly choices in buildings construction.”

Griffin believes in leading by example which is why, alongside its internally-led initiatives, the business takes great pains to achieve externally-audited accreditations, including ISO 9001:2008, ISO 14001:2004, OHSAS 18001:2007, and ISO 50001:2011. 

Griffin Consultants’ short but illustrious track record not only shows what can be achieved in the Emirates’ construction sector but also proves that small companies, no matter what sector they are in, can compete with much greater players, provided their strategy focuses on skills, quality, and delivering value for the customer. Not only is this company one to watch – it is one to imitate also. 

Hassan Younes