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Our schools hold 600,000 people and that figure will likely climb to 1.2 million in 10 years’ time

B Surendar in conversation with Engr Abdulla Rafia, the Assistant Director General for Planning and Engineering at Dubai Municipality. AT A GLANCE Local Order No (11) of 2003 Concerning Public Health and Community Safety in the Emirate of Dubai   Article (55): The department concerned will evaluate buildings to verify their efficiency and    integrity. […]

| | Mar 10, 2015 | 2:45 pm
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Abdulla RafiaB Surendar in conversation with Engr Abdulla Rafia, the Assistant Director General for Planning and Engineering at Dubai Municipality.

AT A GLANCE

Local Order No (11) of 2003 Concerning Public Health and Community Safety in the Emirate of Dubai

  •   Article (55): The department concerned will evaluate buildings to verify their efficiency and    integrity. If a defect is discovered, said department must see to it that the building occupant resolves   the problem.
  •   Article (56): Building occupant must maintain healthy IAQ by installing a proper exhaust system    and by ensuring that ventilation and air quality conform to standards.
  •   Article (57): The department concerned will issue occupation permit for buildings intended for group accommodation in compliance with health and environmental standards as well as safety requirements. In case of violations, said department may shut down services and/or building operations.

What is Dubai Municipality doing to improve Indoor Environmental Quality in schools in the Emirate?

Students typically sit in the classroom for six to seven hours, so it’s important to take care of the air they inhale. Since 2003, Dubai Municipality has been implementing Local Order No (11) of 2003 Concerning Public Health and Community Safety in the Emirate of Dubai, Articles (55), (56) and (57).  In addition, the Green Building Regulations & Specifications has an entire section dedicated to Building Vitality. Overall, the Regulations & Specifications covers IEQ-related issues, including indoor air quality, thermal comfort and noise. So the scene has been set, and we have KPIs for ‘New Construction’ projects relating to IAQ requirements. Dubai Municipality will enforce it in all the new schools as far as the Green Building Regulations are concerned.

We will also be addressing IEQ in existing schools – we will come to that. What is most important is that we build very fast and we grow very fast here in Dubai, and that whatever we build, we overtake the Existing Buildings. Our schools hold 600,000 people and, in 10 years’ time, that figure will likely climb to 1.2 million.

In many countries, old schools accommodate 100% of the students. In 10 years, they will probably accommodate 90%. In our case, only 50% of the students will be in old schools, so we will have more buildings with perfect IEQ.

What does Dubai Municipality check for during inspection of buildings?

We inspect the air conditioning of existing buildings, including whether or not building management clean their ducting systems. We also inspect for the presence of legionella and other growth. Broadly, we look for elements that affect the indoor air quality (IAQ).

Besides the Green Building Regulations & Specifications, Dubai has a programme of retrofitting for 30,000 of the 120,000 Existing Buildings in the Emirate, and there is an intention to include government buildings in the list of the 30,000. Most of the schools are government buildings, so they will go under the retrofit umbrella.

It’s easy to retrofit schools because, unlike other buildings that are occupied all year round, they are closed during summer. We have set up an ESCO (Energy Service Company) for the retrofitting programme.

What is being done to balance IEQ and energy efficiency concerns?

By reducing the consumption of energy, we are reducing emissions by 30%, which is a huge reduction. Our approach is to ensure better rating of air conditioning equipment for energy efficiency and also an improvement in the type of filters used, which must provide no less than the minimum ventilation needed for acceptable IAQ.

We have taken steps to balance health and energy efficiency. While you talk of a tighter building envelope, we put conditions relating to a minimum amount of fresh air intake as well as the provision of open-able windows. We also regulate for heat recovery from exhaust to reduce deficit from the use of fresh air. We want to reduce the size of the windows to reduce heat, but health requirements necessitate a natural view, so instead we have regulations on window type – shading coefficient – and orientation, with more windows on the eastern and northern sides of the building.

And how are you addressing energy loss through leakages in ducting systems?

We have clearly distinguished between the ducts inside the building and those outside, which is the area of focus when it comes to addressing leakages. We have mandated duct-leakage testing in our Regulations. Also, building owners are required to ensure that they have a certain specified thickness of insulation and to carry out adequate maintenance.

Considering the demographic profile of the UAE, do you feel there is an issue with a sense of belonging, with some in the construction and MEP fraternities thinking only short term, which is likely having an impact on IEQ and energy efficiency, perhaps owing to the use of inferior products, with cost in mind?

If you see the framework of the Dubai Plan 2021, released in December 2014, it includes six themes or pillars. The second pillar is titled ‘An Inclusive & Cohesive Society’. Basically, it talks of equality and fairness. Our community is made up of a mosaic of cultures, and there is a strong sense of belonging. People feel this is a good place to live.

On the social side, this mosaic has helped us. We are receiving and amalgamating ideas coming from all over the world.

On the technical front and the use of inferior supplies that you mentioned, since it’s an open market, we have left it to the competition, and people are aware of quality – they ask about rating, guarantees, country of origin, and we are certainly not getting garbage. Most of the District Cooling companies are going for the Rolls Royce of equipment. That’s because the owners and developers are aware, and they are concerned about reputation. None of them went under. They care for their branding. Emaar, Nakheel, Meraas… all of them make money based on reputation. Most major developers are here to stay.

We are running a product certification system based on world-renowned certification programmes, and they are based on sound international bodies. We do certify products and the equipment, and we follow testing protocols. So these are actions that give us much better control. A number of countries are closed and encourage the use of only national products. That way, there is a possibility of inferior products doing the rounds. We have no restrictions, and the competition here is on price and quality.


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