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Greenspeak – EmiratesGBC

Saeed Al Abbar, Chairman of the Emirates Green Building Council (EmiratesGBC) and a member of the World Green Building Council Board of Directors, shares with Climate Control Middle East his thoughts on…

| | Oct 13, 2015 | 2:40 pm
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The relationship between Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) and energy efficiency:

In sustainability rating systems, such as Estidama and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), energy efficiency and IEQ are mutually inclusive goals, where integrated building design processes ensure that the minimum requirements for occupant comfort and safety are met.

The progress the UAE has made in balancing IEQ requirement and energy-efficiency targets:

Saeed Al Abbar, Chairman of the Emirates Green Building Council

Saeed Al Abbar, Chairman of the Emirates Green Building Council

Since EmiratesGBC was founded in 2006, the UAE has made significant efforts to improve its current building stock, with numerous groundbreaking frameworks and programmes being implemented by the public sector.

New supporting regulations, the emergence of local sustainability building codes and rating systems, and relevant organisations, such as the EmiratesGBC, have made sustainability an almost intrinsic part of the construction industry in the UAE, where a rising number of Green Buildings are LEED and Estidama Pearl certified.

The challenges to maintaining occupant comfort while pursuing energy-saving measures:

Installing new HVAC equipment without taking into account the outdoor air intake or existing CO2 levels or building air tightness, for example, can negate any benefits of a new, more efficient HVAC system. It is, therefore, necessary to take a holistic approach when considering any implementations aimed at achieving energy efficiency.

Another challenge that we have identified is that older buildings that are candidates for retrofit procedures are sometimes given incomplete or inadequate upgrades.

It is important to note that there are many projects going on, and a lot of players on board. So it is crucial to find out who does what and to work together for a common goal, which is sometimes the biggest obstacle. To tackle this lack of a holistic approach to achieving energy efficiency, late last year, we created the Energy Efficiency Programme, to serve as an energy efficiency database and collaboration platform that compiles the expertise of our corporate members who provide services or materials that are related to energy efficiency.

Building owners, operators and end-users are an essential component in achieving energy efficiency, as their level of awareness, or lack thereof, can greatly influence the implementation and maintenance of improvements needed.

In order to bridge the knowledge gap between professionals and end-users, and to provide solutions for overcoming some of these challenges, EmiratesGBC has also developed a set of guidelines, which aims to provide knowledge of retrofitting procedures to building end-users and operators.

Existing standards that promote healthy and sustainable built-environments:

ASHRAE guidelines represent the basic standards used in the building and construction industry. In the UAE, many existing buildings have mechanical systems designed to ASHRAE 62.1 Standards. The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineer’s (CIBSE’s) Applications Manual 10:2005 also provides optimal guidance for minimum ventilation rates and thermal conditions. The Dubai Green Building Code and the Abu Dhabi Estidama Pearl Rating System, which apply to all new buildings in the Emirates, draw minimum standards from all the above.

How the EmiratesGBC Technical Guidelines for Retrofitting Existing Buildings can help in balancing good IEQ and energy efficiency:

The EmiratesGBC Technical Guidelines for Retrofitting Existing Buildings is a comprehensive set of instructions compiled by the Council and written by its volunteer members and partners. It consists of 200 pages, featuring 31 key retrofit methods that can be implemented on existing buildings for improved operational efficiency and subsequent short- and long-term savings.

Highlighting current processes, technologies, and local and regional standards in place, to successfully and efficiently retrofit existing buildings in the UAE, this publication serves as a guide for UAE industry professionals and building owners, operators, and end-users.

The EmiratesGBC Technical Guidelines also provides the holistic approach mentioned earlier, which looks at all aspects of sustainable retrofit: from energy efficiency, to indoor CO2 levels, outdoor air quality, and VOC content of interior materials and products.

We are honoured to have received the patronage and support of the Ministry of Public Works and the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy for the Guidelines; and we are working with both authorities to support the UAE government’s goals for sustainability.

Steps to achieving both energy efficiency and healthy IEQ:

In light of the procedures highlighted in the EmiratesGBC Technical Guidelines, there are a number of solutions that building owners and operators can utilise to improve the operational efficiency of their existing air conditioning equipment.

For existing buildings, proper maintenance, including regular scheduled commissioning, is an essential step that ensures equipment is up-to-date and running to manufacturer’s standards and has no parts in need of replacements. Often, minor problems, if not addressed, can lead to unexpected breakdowns as well as serious damage to equipment, such as refrigeration compressors, which are often costly to replace.

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