UAE-based Diamond Developers is planning on integrating solar-powered district cooling facilities within The Sustainable City Yas Island project in Abu Dhabi as part of its goal to achieve “net zero” emissions.
“We plan on installing 10 distributed district cooling plants that will supply chilled water to the condos, townhouses and mixed-use plots within the project,” said Salah Habib, Chief Executive Officer of Diamond Developers.
He added that the company continues to push the boundaries of "net zero" by exploring alternative solutions for optimizing renewable energy uptake in the built environments under various scenarios, including on-grid and off-grid.
“By integrating such systems, we will benefit from cost reduction as they require substantially lower electricity usage and maintenance costs.”
He said the district cooling plants will offer enhanced efficiency and reliability, space savings, flexibility of air-conditioning loads, and considerably longer plant life.
Additionally, Diamond Developers plans on using the communal photovoltaic (PV) on the roof of The Sustainable City Yas Island parking areas to power the distributed district cooling facilities.
Habib said the solar-powered cooling systems will cater to 3,500 residents across 864 townhouses and condos.
In January 2022, Diamond Developers and Abu Dhabi-listed Aldar Properties entered into a joint venture agreement to develop the 1.8-billion-UAE-dirham ($490 million) The Sustainable City Yas Island.
Construction is scheduled to commence in the fourth quarter of 2022, with a 30-month completion target, the companies had said in a statement.
Habib said that each of Diamond’s projects involve innovative methods, technological or indigenous, when it comes to selection of materials or logistics of construction.
"Cities are essentially playgrounds for innovation and exploration; this mindset is deep-rooted in our DNA and how we plan, design, build, and operate sustainable cities,” he emphasized.
On whether construction costs for building sustainable cities have gone up, he admitted that supply chain disruptions and macro-economic developments have increased construction costs globally but underlined that sustainability methods and efforts could bring down costs when integrated into the initial project design.
“With ongoing technological advancements, the cost of employing sustainable methods and smart systems is slowly decreasing, which makes a case for using them more appealing. These methods include solar PV, battery storage, intelligent solutions including BMS and dashboarding,” he said.
Although some sustainable systems do come at an additional cost, they can be easily offset in the long run through operational savings. Hence, Diamond Developers takes additional steps of cost analysis related to sustainability for each development.
“We believe that when sustainability and net zero goals are embedded in a project’s design process, there should be no additional costs,” Habib concluded.