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Making Green Mainstream

A workshop, titled “Profitability through Sustainability”, provides theoretical basis and equips participants with practical tools to implement sustainability programmes in their professional spheres.

| | May 15, 2010 | 1:12 pm
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A workshop, titled Profitability through Sustainability, jointly organised and hosted by ENPARK and CPI Industry, not only provided a theoretical basis to participants but also equipped them with practical tools to implement sustainability programmes in their professional spheres.

Sougata Nandi, TECOM

Sougata Nandi, TECOM

Scientists are, by nature, questioners and doubters. So, when you see most scientists agreeing on something, it is time to take note. With this as the warning bell, and Albert Einstein’s dictum that “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them”, the resource person, Sougata Nandi, Director of Sustainability at TECOM and ENPARK, conducted a two-day workshop, titled, ‘Profitability through Sustainability’. It was held on May 5 and 6 at Knowledge Village, Dubai. The participants included employees of Dubai Municipality, DEWA, Dubai Chamber of Commerce, RTA, KHDA, the Royal Estate of the Sultanate of Oman, Trane, Siemens, EMAL and Dubai Police.

Nandi employed a combination of case studies and demonstration of frameworks to drive home the issues.

The avowed objectives of the workshop were to enable trainees to:

  • Understand the key components of a sound approach to sustainable development
  • Define sustainability in the context of their own organisation
  • Define their organisation’s short, medium and long-term goals
  • Come up with an implementation plan

The workshop was divided into four modules:

Module 1

  • Introduction
  • Objectives of the programme
  • Global trends in sustainability
  • Local trends in sustainability
  • Review of delegates’ concepts, experiences and exposure to sustainability

Module 2

  • Components of sustainability
  • Define sustainability
  • Sustainability elements as tools for enhancing profitability
  • Why corporate houses should embrace sustainability
  • How sustainability blocks recession and fights economic downturn
  • Implementing sustainable development effectively within an organisation
  • Case study
  • Energy and water conservation
  • Implementing effective energy and water conservation programmes
  • Organisational maturity matrix
  • Rate your organisation
  • Energy auditing methodology

Module 4

  • Building green
  • Why build green?
  • How to build green and green building criteria
  • Site sustainability
  • Water conservation
  • Energy efficiency
  • Energy auditing methodology
  • Role of energy manager
  • Implementation strategies
  • Components of energy and water conservation
  • Tools required
  • Measurement and verification protocols
  • Ascertaining energy bills – normalisation
  • Energy efficiency
  • Materials and resources
  • Indoor environmental quality
  • Lighting
  • Light pollution
  • Lighting power densities
  • Energy modelling
  • HVAC load calculation
  • Ventilation standards
  • Regional material quantities
  • Performance contracting
  • Exercise – define your relevant green criteria set
  • Stakeholder engagement
  • Case studies


Starting with what appeared to be simple, even simplistic definitions, Nandi took the delegates through the paces to the more complex and axiomatic issues of global warming and climate change. He cited statistical data to support his point regarding urgent need for action:

The Earth is warmer now than in the past 1,000 years. The average surface temperature has risen from 0.6°C in the past century to 0.75°C, since pre-industrial times, thanks to greenhouse gases and pollutants like carbon dioxide. We are releasing more and more CO2 over time – 1,000 years of CO2 and global temperature change has increased the level in the atmosphere by more than 35%, since the Industrial Revolution. (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 2006). The 1990s were the warmest decades since 1861, when thermometer records began. The year, 2006 was the warmest year on record. The temperature increase in the 20th century was the largest of any century in the last 1,000 years. The 10 hottest years since the beginning of the last millennium have all occurred since 1983.

A few of the many signs of climate change Nandi listed were:

  • Melting Polar ice
  • Melting glaciers
  • Increased hurricane activity – in 2005, most Category Five hurricanes occurred in the Atlantic Ocean
  • Heat Waves – the 2003 heatwave killed at least 35,000 people in Europe
  • Rise in sea level – 100 million people live within 100 centimetres above the sea level

Warning that owing to global warming, at least a two- to three-foot further rise of sea levels was anticipated by 2100, Nandi made a case for global responsibility, corporate action and sustainable development policies in the region.

Following were a few of the examples cited of sustainable policies in the region, backed by corporate will:

  • Dow Chemical reduced energy per unit of production by 21% since 1994, saving $3 billion.
  • 3M reduced emissions by about 37% between 1990 and 2004, by reducing energy consumption by 4% per year.
  • BP reduced emissions by 14% between 1998 and 2004, gaining $650 million.
  • TECOM Investments reduced electricity and water cost by US$7 million in 33 months and CO2 emissions by 38,000 tonnes.


The spotlight on buildings as environmental culprits yielded the following facts: If we take the United States, as an example, buildings are responsible for:

  • 12% water use
  • 30% greenhouse gas emissions
  • 65% waste output
  • 70% electricity consumption

(Source: USGBC)

It was noted that in Dubai, commercial and residential buildings currently consume 85.5% of the Emirate’s water and 73.8% of its electricity.

(Source: DEWA)

Buildings, therefore, have a huge impact on the environment.


The session concluded on a sombre note: It is evident that climate change is a reality, though the extent of its impact may be subject to debate. Immediate action, therefore, needs to be taken to mitigate its impact. Since buildings are one of the major contributors to climate change, effective action needs to be taken in this sector.

Corporate houses, globally and locally, have already initiated significant action.


Under the rubrics of components of sustainable development, Nandi said that sustainable development can add commercial value to a building, but in order to implement it effectively, consistently and sustainably, one needs to have a clear understanding of two diverse paradigms: projects hierarchy and the traditional design and construction process.

A sustainable collaboration work model was presented with a view to minimise environmental impact caused by development, while sustaining lifestyles within the carrying capacity of the planet. They included: education and training; advice and consultancy; finance partnerships; business building and research and policy.

Taking stock of the current situation, Nandi analysed the key areas for consideration and their implications as:

  1. Explosive economic growth: Implication – strain on energy infrastructure and financial burden
  2. Burden on energy resources to multiply in the years to come, in some cases by three times: Implication – bigger resource-saving opportunity
  3. Many cities/countries in the region lack representation at national and international level on sustainability-related areas: Implication – lack of profile
  4. Several regional visions address sustainability: Implication – need professional implementation
  5. Random initiatives on SD by multiple parties: Implication – lack of cohesion Conclusion : Streamlined thrust on sustainable development required at all levels. A two-pronged strategy was recommended at both the high level and the macro level:
  • Support sustainable community and building development
  • Support with LEED certification for construction of new community developments


  1. Increasing public awareness
  2. Supporting government initiatives
  3. Facilitating business building and networking
  4. Developing green awareness through education curriculum for schools
  5. Supporting with policy development and recommendation of policy initiatives
  6. Hosting business forums on select renewable energy/ sustainable commercial development topics

Nandi concluded that a holistic understanding was the key to individual stakeholders contributing effectively to the cause.


While a sustainable development policy is a must, in all probability it will vary from organisation to organisation. Factors that are likely to dictate the key elements of a sustainable development policy are:

  • Nature of the business
  • Areas of focus CSR component
  • Level of top management commitment

How aggressive the organisation is

  • Where the biggest impact will be
  • Industry commitment


Nandi summed up the module by concluding that sustainable development means different things to different people. It is, therefore, necessary to identify what is important for people and their organisations, and pursue their goals systematically and sustainably.


With the dictum, “Begin with the end in mind”, Nandi discussed the following issues in this module:

  • Identification of energy saving measures
  • Performance contracting
  • Measurement and verification
  • Benchmarking energy consumptions
  • Sources of inefficiency/ wastage
  • Inefficiency/wastage is one of:
    • over-designing
    • lack of controls
    • inappropriate use (what should be used where)
    • old technology
    • human error and insensitivity

Nandi was concluded that all these factors can be identified and redeemed.


Nandi summed up the module with the following observations:

  • Water-conservation techniques are the most easy to implement
  • Payback periods are faster than electrical measures
  • The best way to save water is by appealing to commonsense and raising awareness
  • Reducing potable water consumption and recycling waste water

The goals, Nandi said, could be achieved through a clear objective, the right approach, a thorough understanding of the system, and by involving all the parties concerned.


Under this header, Nandi listed a few pre-conceived notions about green buildings and helped dispel them:

  1. Building green costs extra money
  2. LEED is only for the United States
  3. Project timelines too tight
  4. We have other priorities Nandi posed the question: Why build green?

He, then, enumerated with supporting authentication, what a green building can help reduce:

  1. Energy use by 24%-50%
  2. Water use by 40%
  3. CO2 emissions by 33%-40%
  4. Solid waste by 70%

He also listed the perceived business benefits of building green:

  1. A 7.5% increase in the building value
  2. A 6.5% improvement in investment returns
  3. A 3.5% increase in occupancy ratio
  4. A three per cent rent ratio increase
  5. A 8-9% decrease in operating costs

In this context, a look at a Dubai factsheet revealed that buildings in Dubai consume 72% of electrical energy and 83% of water generated, which in itself is a cause for concern.

In the following sessions, aided by case studies from LEED projects in Dubai, Nandi informed participants about green features, how to certify green buildings on the basis of mandatory prerequisites and credits and about how LEED works.

Nandi emphasised that the key factor for any successful LEED project was instilling an integrated project team, right from the conceptual stage of the project. He familiarised the participants with the key ingredients:

  • Integrated project team
  • Early involvement in contract negotiations
  • PMP approach
  • Fit-out guidelines
  • Senior management support
  • Personal commitment

The session also looked at an oft-neglected green feature – light pollution reduction. The avowed intention, said Nandi, was to minimise light trespass from the building and site, and reduce sky glow to increase night sky access.

Moving on to the issue of achieving water efficiency, the participants took a look at ways to minimise water demand.

  • Ultra-low flow fixtures
  • Ultra-efficient flush tanks
  • Sensor controls
  • Utilising free water
  • AC condensate

It was concluded that the goal should be to maximise water efficiency within tenant spaces, and to reduce the burden on municipal water supply and wastewater systems. Nandi noted that as part of TECOM’s ongoing energy- and waterconservation programmes, since April 2007, cost-effective conservation measures have been implemented. Even before the LEED certification process had started, Nandi said, all buildings were fitted out with water restrictors, which helped reduce TECOM’s overall water consumption by 26,232 million gallons, between January and December 2008.

In the session, Energy and Atmosphere, Nandi asked the trainees to take a closer look at prerequisites and credits:

  • Prereq 1: Fundamental commissioning of the building energy systems
  • Prereq 2: Minimum energy performance
  • Prereq 3: Fundamental refrigerant management
  • Credit 1: Optimise energy performance
  • Credit 2: On-site renewable energy
  • Credit 3: Enhanced commissioning
  • Credit 4: Enhanced refrigerant management
  • Credit 5.1: Measurement and verification – base building
  • Credit 5.2: Measurement and verification, tenant submetering
  • Credit 6: Green Power – one per cent

In the final session, Nandi familiarised the participants with the finer points of green features:

  • Lighting power
  • Measurement and verification – tenant submetering
  • Energy modelling
  • Energy efficiency
  • Materials reuse
  • Use of recycled content and regional materials
  • Indoor environment quality
  • Low-emitting materials
  • Innovation in design
  • Facility for education
  • Exemplary performance


Nandi summed up the session with the following observations:

  • LEED is just one of the many frameworks to be utilised as a tool to make your building green
  • LEED works very well in the GCC – there are many examples of successful LEED projects
  • There are many different ways to make a building green – prioritise and see what is important
  • Do not set LEED Platinum as a target – it is neither necessary nor relevant
  • Building green helps all stakeholders, including infrastructure service providers

After going through the rigours of training, the workshop was perceived to be useful by all the delegates, as they got an opportunity to arm themselves with tools to implement sustainability programmes in their own departments/agencies.

On a slightly tangential, but relevant note, the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry achieved LEED certification for its building in Deira. The real benefit of this, is, of course, power and water saving. TECOM through its water- and energyconservation drives has been able to achieve $7 million in savings in 33 months. This is an audited figure, and is a positive sign of the shape of things to come in the country and the region. It will not, perhaps, be too unwise to hope that nudged by both responsibility towards the environment and financial benefits, the construction sector will channelise green into the mainstream

A profile of the workshop trainer
Sougata Nandi, Director, Sustainable Development at TECOM Investments & Enpark, is an M Tech in Energy Engineering from IIT Powai, India; a LEED Accredited Professional and a Project Management Professional

Among other milestones, he is:

  • The winner Emirates Energy Award 2007
  • Member of International Platform Working Group of the US Green Building Council, working towards creating alternative compliance paths for LEED credits and prerequisites that present significant challenges for international projects, March 2010.

He has been involved in sustainable development projects. A key project includes managing the masterplanning and infrastructure design of Enpark, a model sustainable community in Dubai. He has worked as a LEED consultant for the 3rd, 5th, 6th, 8th, 11th and the 12th LEED-certified projects in the UAE.


Tamim Al Haj, Dubai Police

Tamim Al Haj, Dubai Police

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