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Why now is the time for Dubai

In part I of this series, Christopher LaBorde reviewed how the global HVAC industry was poised for real change, and in part II, he addressed the reasons why the UAE was the right location for transformational HVAC leadership. In this third and final installment in the series, he asserts that Dubai has a big role to play in bringing about this change.

| | Nov 23, 2015 | 3:01 pm
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– Christopher LaBorde

Christopher LaBorde

Christopher LaBorde

There are five strategic factors as to why Dubai could lead the HVAC change. Many of these factors have influenced each other in their creation and their design. The four drivers that make now the time for Dubai to change the HVAC sector are: Expo 2020; the Dubai 2030 Integrated Energy Strategy; The Dubai Smart City initiative; The United Nations Montreal Protocol Summit Meeting (November 1-5); and COP 21 meeting (November 30-December 11).

Expo 2020 – “Connecting minds, Creating the Future”
Over 2013, Dubai successfully bid for the Expo 2020. In general, about 25 million tourists travelling to the emirate and spending a couple billion Dirhams entertaining themselves, is a good enough reason for a city to host such an event.

However, it’s more than a tourist event. It’s perceived as a direct marketing opportunity. The city is also using the event to accelerate its growth, which is ambitious. And then, using the event to invite people to visit the city is smart. But then, Dubai is both ambitious and smart.

Dubai’s next major round of ambitious and smart move is making the city sustainable. To grow Dubai in size, the attitude of “cool at any cost” had to be adopted. Moving a multi-million person city into a sustainable city to “cool at minimal cost” will require the same kind of ambition and intelligence that Dubai has shown in other areas, and it will happen in the HVAC sector as well. Expo 2020 Dubai will be the right opportunity.

The goals that apply to the HVAC aspect of things are to reduce demand side energy use by 30%; reduce COglobal warming emissions by 30%; and to move from 15% District Cooling to 40% District Cooling

The Dubai 2030 Integrated Energy Strategy
The leaders of Dubai are good at seeing where its biggest challenges may be in the future. The Dubai 2030 Integrated Energy Strategy is possibly one such plan currently in place, and three of its goals apply directly to the HVAC sector. The goals that apply to the HVAC aspect of things are to: Reduce demand side energy use by 30%; reduce COglobal warming emissions by 30%; and to move from 15% District Cooling to 40% District Cooling.

The third goal is very clear. And to achieve this goal, District Cooling technology will have to continue to be optimised further, until it is the clear option for all building owners, moving forward. The first and second goals are also HVAC goals, since the HVAC sector currently uses up to 56% of Dubai’s annual power, and produces 5.5 times the carbon footprint of its cars (39.1 million tonnes of CO2). To reduce either one of these numbers by 30% will require a significant improvement in both HVAC operation and maintenance, as well as having HVAC technology in place in the country.

The Dubai Smart City initiative
Infrastructure is one of the six key pillars of the Dubai Smart City initiative. Part of the strategy of this initiative is to gather high-quality data, and process this data in a centralised repository.

If you remember, in my last installment of this series, lack of clear communication seemed to be at the root of most of the major challenges cited behind the HVAC problems in The Gulf. The use of a centralised repository could definitely be part of a strategy to create city-wide benchmarks on HVAC performance, to then create Gulf operation standards, among other things.

Taming the heat with efficient air conditioning systems, and moving them into the realm of smart infrastructure management will definitely be part of the Smart City initiative

Since the Dubai Smart City initiative aims to make Dubai the happiest place on Earth, taming the heat with efficient air conditioning systems, and moving them into the realm of smart infrastructure management will definitely be part of the Smart City initiative.

The UN Montreal Protocol Summit meeting and the COP 21 meeting in Paris
In December 2014 and March 2015, China and India agreed with the UN that they would be willing to enter into talks to phase out R-22 use and production over the following 15 years. These two giants, along with a coalition of African countries, also agreeing to do the same, has made this year’s gathering of the members of the Montreal Protocol largely about refrigerants and their phase-out plans. On November 1, the first day of the gathering, the parties in attendance all formally agreed to phase out HFC refrigerants. This was and is a monumental step in environmental responsibility. But it now leaves a very serious job to be done, moving forward.

Since Dubai hosted this meeting, it has set the stage for participation in the refrigerant phase-out plans. And now the hard work begins. Between now and the beginning of the COP 21 event in Paris, Dubai has to figure out the phase-out schedule that the city can handle economically. The reason this becomes a matter of economics is because R-22 is estimated to be in roughly 84% of the air conditioning systems in Dubai. And currently, there is not a clear alternative refrigerant gas that can be put into the existing chillers that will produce the same efficiency in cooling, and in many cases, be compatible with the existing in-place equipment. As a result, an HVAC strategy for technological improvement options will make sense to be paired up with ESCOs to do their best to find ways to reduce demand-side power, while trading out R-22 cooling infrastructure for more efficient non-R-22 cooling infrastructure.

In summary, Dubai has set the stage and shown that it has an appetite for solving one of its biggest infrastructure problems. And now is the time for these strategies to come together.


The writer is the Business Development Manager of the MENA Region at TrakRef. He can be contacted at: claborde@trafref.com


CPI Industry accepts no liability for the views or opinions expressed in this column, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided here.


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