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‘A deliberate emphasis on developing the retrofit market in the MENA region’

In order to address the challenges, local, academic and industry platforms are working to demonstrate the applicability and affordability of building retrofits, says Saeed Al Abbar, Chairman, Emirates Green Building Council

| | Oct 31, 2018 | 1:35 pm
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Dubai, UAE, 31 October 2018: Regional governments today are promoting sustainable development with a focus on enhancing energy and water use efficiency, said Saeed Al Abbar, Chairman, Emirates Green Building Council (EmiratesGBC). He said, there is a greater consensus, among the key players, on the need for an improvement in the performance of existing buildings and, as a result, we see a deliberate emphasis placed on developing the retrofit market in the MENA region.

“Government initiatives in the region are steadily driving positive changes focused towards energy and water conservation,” Al Abbar said. The region, he said, has also seen several initiatives which promote retrofits, including the Dubai Building Retrofit Programme, managed by Etihad Energy Services. He also pointed to Abu Dhabi’s Tarsheed Programme and The National Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Action in Lebanon, as key initiatives in the region. The EmiratesGBC BEA programme, he added, continues to support retrofit efforts by establishing benchmarks, which help building operators and owners gauge their building and operational performance.

While referring to the challenges in executing retrofit projects in the region, Al Abbar said that the lack of finance schemes by local and international banks, in addition to limited financing available to building owners to conduct retrofits, were major roadblocks in the road to energy efficiency. Utility bills, he added, are mostly paid by tenants and many building owners are not incentivised in investing in retrofits, which he said is another hurdle to overcome in the retrofit market. “There is a general lack of awareness of energy-efficient buildings and a perception that investing in energy efficiency is not a cost-effective alternative,” Al Abbar added.  In order to address the challenges, he said, local, academic and industry platforms are working to demonstrate the applicability and affordability of building retrofits. “We have been working closely with business forums, the UAE government and relevant stakeholders to foster awareness of the benefits of adopting and implementing retrofit strategies,” he said. He added that EmiratesGBC has engaged with a number of local banks to facilitate access, in order to to make financing retrofits affordable.

What the industry needs is an integrated approach, Al Abbar said, while players need to continue to underline the importance of implementing retrofits. For instance, he added, the private sector can share their expertise and innovative solutions with the public sector and governments can implement concrete strategies for retrofits in a timely fashion.


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