EmiratesGBC discusses importance of deep retro-fitting

Published: 13 November 2019 - 10:13 a.m.
By: Baset Asaba

Emirates Green Building Council (EmiratesGBC), an independent forum aimed at conserving the environment by strengthening and promoting green building practices, organised a Focus Day, in partnership with Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry (Dubai Chamber) that featured an in-depth discussion on deep retrofitting of building in the UAE. At the event, certified specialists qualified through the Building Retrofit Training programme, organised by EmiratesGBC in association with the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy (DSCE) and Masdar, were also honoured.

The Focus Day, under the theme, ‘Improving Building Performance through Deep Retrofitting’ complements the ongoing efforts of EmiratesGBC and building industry stakeholders to drive the retrofitting of existing buildings in the UAE to meet national and global carbon emission targets. Speakers discussed innovative solutions and approaches to retrofit buildings that go beyond current programmes to achieve higher levels of energy efficiency as well as cost-savings. A panel comprising government and industry representatives discussed in-depth the opportunities and barriers in implementing deep retrofits in the region.

The focus on deep retrofits also supports the goal of the UAE, one of the first national governments to commit to the ‘Zero Carbon Buildings for All’ initiative, led by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and endorsed by the UN Secretary General.

Saeed Al Abbar, Chairman of EmiratesGBC, said: “The UAE has set clear strategic directions and commitments to achieving net zero carbon buildings. The UAE Clean Energy Strategy 2050, the Green Building Regulations already enforced in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah, and other sustainable energy initiatives are all significant drivers to achieving sustainable built environments. Retrofitting existing buildings is central to achieving energy efficiency, and it is a task that, no doubt, calls for concerted efforts but with results that have far-reaching positive impact.”

Afra Alowais, EmiratesGBC Board Member & Chief Efficienology Officer, SEWA, said the Focus Day underlines the importance of industry and government to work together to improve the environmental impact of the existing building stock in the UAE. “Building retrofit can yield energy savings and reduce the environmental impact of a building in addition to bringing huge financial benefits to a building’s ongoing operations. The success of deep retrofitting and achieving the net zero goals can only be achieved through strong public private partnership. Our leadership has already set ambitious targets to promote this, and it is important for all stakeholders collaborate and help achieve the goals.”

As part of promoting deeper understanding on retrofitting, EmiratesGBC offers the Building Retrofit Training Programme in partnership with DSCE and Masdar. Twenty-five participants, several of them UAE Nationals, from government entities and the private sector, completed the training programme and passed the certification exam to now be qualified as Building Retrofit Specialists. The participants represented the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, S.E.E. Solutions FZC LLC, Neon Green Buildings Construction Materials Trading LLC, EcoBuild Middle East, JLL, Ras Al Khaimah Municipality, IFMC Electromechanical Works LLC, Quimera Energy and Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority.

At the event, Khaled Bushnaq, EmiratesGBC Vice Chairman & CEO at EMS, provided an introduction to the importance and necessity of deep retrofits followed by John Conboy, Director of Sales at Danfoss, discussing the trends and challenges in the retrofit of existing buildings. Elie Matar, Head of Electricity at Dubai RSB, presented on an energy and water building performance rating scheme for Dubai. This was followed by a panel discussion on ‘Delivering Deep Retrofits in the UAE – The Opportunities and Challenges’ attended by Elie Matar; Henrique Pereira, Senior Manager – Energy Servcies at RAK Municipality; Tharun Thomas, Business Development Manager of Smart4Power; and Ankit Sharma, Energy Consultant, Etihad ESCO.

The participants also joined a tour of the Dubai Chamber building, a local example of building retrofit and the first in the Arab world to achieve the basic level LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification as early as 2009 and the LEED Platinum in 2014.

A short survey of building retrofit was conducted to understand the current market situation as well as the challenges and opportunities faced while working on retrofit projects. The survey input will support EmiratesGBC’s ongoing retrofit programme and market studies. The Focus Day was sponsored by Danfoss, a corporate member of EmiratesGBC and actively committed to sustainability leadership within the industry.

EmiratesGBC regularly hosts and participates in multinational events, conferences and forums. It has also developed a suite of activities, inclusive of networking events, technical workshops, focus days and facilitated training based around specific issues related to the built-environment that meet the needs of its members, of the UAE community and the wider Middle East.

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