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Enpark retrofitting forum highlights savings potential

Experts talk of how buildings can be made to consume 29% less energy, at little or no cost

| | Oct 15, 2010 | 1:12 pm
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Experts talk of how buildings can be made to consume 29% less energy, at little or no cost

Buildings account for about 40 per cent of all energy consumed on Earth, and making even small changes, or retrofitting existing structures, can triple savings in energy and water costs, as well as create healthier environments for residents, experts at the ‘Green Retrofitting’ forum said. The forum took place on October 6 in Dubai.

The panel of speakers

The panel of speakers

The second in a series of Green Brunch events, organised by The Energy and Environment Park (ENPARK), a sustainable community model for commercial and residential use and a member of TECOM Investments’ Sciences Cluster, the forum gathered several regional experts who shared their insights with the delegates.

Countering the misperception that retrofitting is a costly, laborious and, hence, a dispensable process in the backdrop of economically strained times, speakers at the event underlined that making a building green need not be expensive, and for every minor retrofit the returns on investment can be tangibly significant –  ecologically, economically and socially. As much as 29% of energy consumed by buildings can be reduced at little or no cost, the experts pointed out, quoting the fourth assessment report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Ahmed Lootah, Senior Business Development Manager, ENPARK, said: “It cannot be sufficiently emphasised that retrofitting remains an attractive proposition even in a tough economic scenario, and ought to be seriously considered by owners and residents of all buildings, whether residential or commercial. Here is one activity where the return on investment is guaranteed to be significant in terms of saving maintenance costs and improving the living conditions for the tenants.”

Ahmed Lootah

Ahmed Lootah

Jagath Gunawardena, Manager-Projects, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, spoke on the topic, ‘Is Greening an Existing Building Costly?’ The headquarters of Dubai Chamber, on Dubai Creek, was the subject of an extensive retrofitting exercise. In 2009, it became the first LEED-Certified Existing Building (EB) in the Arab world.

Gunawardena noted that initiatives, such as capturing condensate water from the building’s air-conditioning systems; installing smart CO2 sensors, which regulate and maintain the ideal flow and quality of fresh air into buildings; and optimising elevator design went a long way in saving water and power. Capturing condensate, he said, if practised by malls, airports and factories, would result in the recycling of substantial amounts of water. Likewise, changing the thermostat by one degree would impact an energy bill by nine per cent, he added.

Sougata Nandi, Executive Director of Asset Management and Sustainable Development for TECOM Business Parks Operations, spoke on the topic, ‘Making Green Retrofitting Work: A Developer’s Perspective’. He said, “Making a building green is no more a technical challenge but increasingly a leadership and commercial one, as we are required to provide an economic justification for doing the right thing.”

The ‘Green Buildings’ Green Brunch follows the first of the series, themed ‘Energy Efficiency’, which ENPARK conducted in July 2010. The third and the fourth events will discuss water and waste management. The ‘Green Brunch’ series features presentations and open debates to help raise awareness of new energy and environment-related technologies and solutions available in the market.

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