What’s an FM company’s role in Net Zero buildings?
With a realistic target in place, UAE’s real estate sector is being encouraged to be part of advancing the country’s net zero building efforts
EmiratesGBC has encouraged the real estate sector and facilities management (FM) companies to adhere to UAE’s goals in advancing net zero buildings.
Saeed Al Abbar, chairman, EmiratesGBC addressed the second World Workplace Forum in Dubai where he also encouraged professionals and private entities to be part of its efforts to spread the message of sustainable building and maintenance practices.
Al Abbar said: “The current benchmarks for buildings [in Dubai] is around the 250 to 300 [KwH per m2], but we have set a target of 90kwH. And we will revise it, and possibly in two years it could be 70KwH per m2. We want to get it down to where we will be in a position to match global objectives.” He also said that EmiratesGBC is looking to set strict targets while ensuring they are realistic and achievable. “There is no point in having 99.9% of non-achievable targets,” Al Abbar said to fmME at the forum.
He also said that the organisation looked at a number of case studies that supported the definition of net zero buildings. Taking an example from the villas it surveyed in Dubai, Al Abbar said that the carbon footprint ranges from 43 KwH m2 and on the other end of the spectrum there are villas that produce around 80KwH m2.
Al Abbar said that there are a few challenges: “Lack of awareness is the major challenge in the adoption of carbon net neutral buildings, along with cost effectiveness. Meanwhile the climate, lack of government incentives or initiatives, high cost of renewable and energy efficient products are also considered as significant challenges.”
In order to drive its efforts in the right direction a centre of excellence is in the works that will be made up of members from the government, private sector, academic fields and industry groups that share knowledge and capacity.
“The network of individuals will then accelerate the concept of net zero adoption. The more people that are aware of the benchmark, they will go out and achieve it, and in turn they can convince their clients. [The centre of excellence will] also drive strategies, prepare road maps in collaboration with the government,” he said.
Drawing on best practices from other parts of the world, Al Abbar said UAE’s targets were set after taking various conditions — such as weather — in to account. “There are other countries that are more advanced — especially in Europe where they have to comply with the EU directive that was put out in 2010. According to which, member states need to put in place policy and regulation for nearly zero energy buildings. Hence all government buildings have to follow it’s country’s definition of nearly zero, and by 2018 all government buildings will have to comply. Meanwhile, all non-government buildings will have to adhere to the requirements by 2020.”
Al Abbar also said that Denmark and Germany have some of the most advanced building codes. “They have been place since 1960, their figure is 20KwH per year to 30KwH per year. Obviously they have different weather conditions, it’s a lot easier heat building than it is to cool buildings,” he said.
Al Abbar said the FM sector will have to play a major role in embracing the efforts by the various bodies in Dubai and the UAE. “The message to the FM industry is that it’s definitely coming, whether it’s this year or in the near future. The advice would be to get up to speed now, and align your operations in a way that you are able to manage and deliver buildings close to a net zero point,” Al Abbar concluded.