Buildings of Tomorrow
Climate neutrality is a global drive where responsibility is on governments, corporates and individuals as well to work towards preserving energy resources and reducing greenhouse gas emissions for a sustainable future.
The United Nations (UN) led Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects offer substantial environmental benefits and support economic growth in poor communities worldwide. To achieve sustainable environment, UN has also launched a new initiative, ‘Climate Neutral Now’ for businesses and individuals. As these talks continue, countries around the Middle East are focussing on new energy saving architectural plans and thus adopting “greener” operational practices.
The building sector is one of the largest consumers of energy. It accounts for nearly one-third of global energy consumption. It is said to entail an investment of about $125 billion by 2020, according to IRENA. Energy-efficiency of buildings can result in considerable energy savings while cutting down carbon emissions.
Energy needs of a building like that for space and water heating, air conditioning, cooling, and for lighting, according to the specified levels, provides a framework for assessing its energy performance. Focussing on architectural features such as passive solar plan that is the appropriate orientation of building, insulation, and shading, its internal lighting, ventilation cooling with master control system, all together can bring down the energy consumption by about 35-40%. Indoor courts are also being considered for cooling and reducing power required for AC.
The GCC countries, especially UAE, consume a large proportion of energy in buildings to fulfil air-conditioning and lighting needs. To deliver more energy-efficient buildings and technologies, the region is making numerous efforts at government, institution and individual level.
Dubai has joined the Building Efficiency Accelerator (BEA) programme, launched by the UN, to double the rate of energy efficiency improvement in buildings by 2030. Dubai is now one among 23 cities in the BEA programme.
DEWA has started construction works at its Zero Energy Building (ZEB), which is said to have zero net energy consumption. The American University of Ras al-Khaimah is designing a net-zero energy house in collaboration with local industries. It is being modelled to produce enough renewable energy annually to balance supply and demand. Its GHG emissions will also be lower than a conventional home.
According to TERI, money spent upfront in an energy-efficient building is double than that of a conventional building, but it offers a long-term financial benefit and savings of upto 66% on monthly utility bills.
‘Green’ buildings will bring about considerable savings in energy costs and reductions in GHG emissions. Proper energy management by keeping a precise record of consumption parameters will be an important aspect for developing a sustainable built environment in future.