Some existing buildings in the UAE consume 220-360 kWh/m2/year
With buildings here consuming 80 per cent of the UAE’s energy, the building sector has a key role to play when it comes to energy efficiency.
On the opening day of the inaugural Emirates Energy Efficiency Summit 2016 in Dubai on Wednesday, it was a speech from Saeed Al Abbar, Chairman of the Emirates Green Building Council, that drummed home the far reaching benefits that buildings have when it comes to reducing carbon emissions and energy costs here.
“We have a strong national agenda when it comes to energy efficiency and sustainability. Regulations here are very forward thinking, but the challenge lies with existing buildings.”
Al Abbar said these buildings are difficult to regulate as they are “fixed living assets” (people already working or living in the building), therefore a certain standard of work/life environment has to be maintained when making changes.
“The opportunity for savings in existing buildings in the UAE is very large … up to 20 per cent through low-or no-cost alone can be saved when making a building energy efficient. This not only provides favourable returns on investment but also contributes positively to the environment.”
But retrofitting an occupied building does not mean closing it down for long periods of time he said. “You can go into these buildings at night, and by the morning they will already be more green.”
Reprogramming air conditioning units or placing shaded film on glass are all simple ways in which you can make a building more energy efficient, he said.
A recent report from the United Nations Environment Programme stated that energy consumption in both new and existing buildings can be cut by an estimated 30 to 80 per cent if today’s proven green technologies are utilised. According to Al Abbar, some existing buildings in the UAE consume 220-360 kWh/m2/year.The current regulations, which many buildings are implementing retrofits to meet these standards, is 160-260kWh/m2/year.And best practice in the UAE shows its most energy efficient buildings consuming 110-160kWh/m2/year.”But the aim is to reach a nearly zero-energy building (nZEB). That would see buildings here consume just 40-60kWh/m2/year, a goal which is certainly possible given the energy efficient technologies we have today,” Al Abbar said.
Dalya Almuthanna, President and CEO of GE Gulf; Dr Lance E. de Masi, President of the American University in Dubai; and Dr Meshgan Al Awar, Secretary General, Zayed International Prize for the Environment were all in attendance at the summit.
Partners for Progress on Energy Efficiency, a partnership of GE and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation organised Wednesday’s event which sits within the UAE’s Vision 2021 to ensure sustainable development while preserving the environment.