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‘The Middle East needs better visibility in international technical committees’

Markus Lattner, Director, Eurovent Middle East, speaks on receiving the Dubai Chamber licence as a non-profit organisation, the move towards a full-fledged independent association and the importance of coordinating the industry…

| | Sep 13, 2018 | 1:56 pm
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What does the Dubai Chamber license mean for Eurovent Middle East?

The approval of the licence was a very important step for us. Until now, we have formally been a so-called Issue Group within the Eurovent Association. The licence now allows us to transform into an independent association. It enables us to work independently out of the Middle East, while giving us the ability to set up our own infrastructure.
A direct result is the hiring of Nerissa Deoraj as Director for Technical and Regulatory affairs through our new Dubai office. We have doubled our resources, allowing us to provide more services to our members.
On September 23, we are going to celebrate this great leap forward with the official handover of the licence by the Chamber. We will make use of this opportunity to outline our activities in front of representatives from government, authorities and key industry sectors.
As part of the inauguration ceremony, we are also going to award our very first honorary membership, which is assigned by our members to people in the HVACR sector that have shown outstanding commitment and achievements.

You mentioned that Eurovent Middle East is going to transform into an independent chapter with the local licence. How much of Europe will be in Eurovent Middle East?
Without the support of Eurovent, Eurovent Middle East would have never happened. First, the legal requirements in Dubai ask for an international organisation to stand behind local activities.
Secondly, the experiences, expertise and resources of Eurovent have been essential to start the local chapter. We are extremely thankful to Eurovent for their support. Yet, we have always emphasised that the Middle East needs an association of its own.

Markus Lattner

Aside from the importance of having activities on the ground to educate the market on technical developments and best practices, we have to think towards the future. The region’s environmental conditions demand specific requirements. While standards from other regions can act as a very good basis, simply copying and pasting from Europe or the United States would not necessarily lead to the best results, considering local conditions.
What is missing at the moment is a stronger lobbying on behalf of the region. The Middle East, being such a prominent market for HVACR, needs to ensure a better visibility in international technical committees.
Coordinating the industry in the region to provide input to such committees, will be one of our key objectives – apart from education, awareness-raising and moving the market towards higher quality, efficiency and better living conditions. All this has to come from within the region.

Eurovent Middle East officially started last year in January with its first General Meeting. How would you summarise your experiences over the past year and a half?
It was outstanding. We originally started with 22 companies and have now doubled this figure. The feedback we received from members and also from the consultant community was very encouraging and showed that the decision to set up an association for the Middle East was not only right, but that it is greatly needed and highly welcome by the industry.
Our ‘HVACR Leadership Workshop’ series has received significant attention and recognition. The last workshop on AHUs attracted 160 people. I believe that many honour our approach as a non-profit organisation to provide free-of-charge, technical seminars on relevant topics.
Our exchanges with government organisations and standardisation bodies have proven very positive. There are so many areas where further actions become necessary. To achieve a sustainable impact requires more time and resources. It has been an extraordinary experience, working with so many different cultures that make the UAE the global hub we know today. I have developed a passion for the region.

Can you name a few of the areas where you see that further engagement is necessary?
There are too many. We have started discussions with the UAE Ministry of Health on a special workshop programme for its key personnel responsible for the MEP infrastructure, something that could contribute to better air quality and energy consumption in hospitals.
We would like to start similar talks with a number of government organisations, especially the UAE Ministry of Education. The issue of IAQ in schools and universities is simply too important to be ignored.
Our members have already started working on our first guidebook covering evaporative cooling equipment and cooling towers. This publication should provide comprehensive information on this technology as well as energy efficiency and maintenance. Similar guidebooks will be published on other important issues.
Recently, we have started working on an inventory of HVACR-related regulations and standards in the GCC, which should ultimately lead to a better understanding of the regulatory environment.
We have also suggested fields for new energy-efficiency regulations and will continue doing so. The issue of certification comes to mind, where we try to educate people on how to make more efficient use of existing programmes.
In the near future, it is our aim to organise a workshop, to which we want to invite other certification bodies, such as UL or AMCA to jointly outline the differences and values of the respective certifications. Aside from this, we listen carefully to the market and adapt according to actual needs.

What can members expect from Eurovent Middle East? What benefits do they see?
There are three main areas of relevance to members. First, the regulatory environment: Providing information about regulations while seeking clarity with authorities is a plus for our members. We can provide joint feedback and encourage regulators to look into areas that do not yet have mandatory requirements. It is naturally in our interest to push for more harmonisation across the GCC region.
As already mentioned, we are working on a comprehensive inventory of standards and regulations applied in the region. From one of our members, I heard that the value of such an inventory was estimated at above half a million UAE Dirhams.
The second area providing real benefits are our educational activities. As an association, we have access to a wider range of audiences than a single, stand-alone company. We can approach any target group our members are interested in. The plus for the audience is that the information provided is non-commercial and, thus, objective and of real value. We can inform them about technical developments, as well as international and local standards. We can raise awareness on specific appliances. Our team can establish contacts with shop owners or consultants specialising in cold storage. We can target facility managers of hotels and restaurants, or focus on oil & gas companies. Everything gets more feasible when joining forces.
Thirdly, networking opportunities – sharing information among members is really appreciated. With our regular meetings, we facilitate the exchange
of experiences and other information.

Looking at the Middle East, how can an association like yours make a difference?
Our industry is crucial for many aspects of life – to cite some examples air filtration and ventilation in hospitals or in the processing industry or generally the provision of cool air to any building in the Middle East.
At the same time, HVACR appliances consume large amounts of energy. A recent study by the International Energy Agency (IEA) suggests that the energy required for cooling will rise exponentially in the future due to climatic and demographic changes.
This is going to challenge governments all around the globe and the industry is aware of its huge responsibility towards society. We do a lot to increase the efficiencies of our applications and, in many countries, work hand in hand with authorities to develop regulatory frameworks that mandate higher efficiencies in the market.
In the Middle East, we want to be this partner for authorities, an organisation bridging the gap among governments, the industry and the society.
We would like to facilitate the discussions on improvements and help educate the market. We want to ensure that manufacturers play by the rules and that end-users are provided with a choice of the best available technologies.
Lastly, we want to encourage public-private partnerships in areas such as market surveillance, market intelligence, vocational training programmes and wherever else we see that industry expertise might be of use.

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