What EGBC is doing to advance net-zero buildings in the UAE?

Published: 30 April 2019 - 6:45 a.m.

EmiratesGBC was formed in 2006, with the goal of advancing green building principles for protecting the environment and ensuring sustainability in the UAE. Majd Fayyad, technical manager, Emirates Green Building Council, told the audience at the MEP UAE Conference about the new building regulations in the region, which are the Estidama Pearl Rating system applied in Abu Dhabi; the Dubai Green Building Regulations and Specifications (DGBRS); Al Sa’fat green building rating system that was introduced in 2016; and Ras Al Khaimah recently introduced its green building regulations Barjeel

He said that the existing building programs in the UAE included Dubai Demand Side Management Program 2030 (retrofit program) and Abu Dhabi Tarsheed Program (reduce consumption of energy and water by 20% by 2030).

Fayyad added: “Dubai government is developing an Energy Performance Label to evaluate the energy performance of existing buildings.”
EmiratesGBC launched the BEA Energy and Water Benchmarking Report to support the labelling scheme, evaluate the performance of hotels, schools and malls, and support the retrofit market.

He went on to explain the definition of net-zero buildings. He said: “Historically, a Zero Energy Building (ZEB) has been interpreted as an off-grid building with an autonomous energy supply. Renewable energy and distributed generation systems were considered to supply and operate these buildings. In some cases, and in order to overcome the seasonal mismatch between demand and supply, these renewable energy systems were oversized. This raised concerns with regards to the loss of generated energy, environmental impacts of the storage systems and other sustainability issues.”
To address these matters, the concept of ZEB was reviewed to consider reducing the energy demand, installing energy efficient equipment, and relying on the public grid as a sink and/or source of energy.

Fayyad said: “Renewable energy also plays a critical role in Nearly Zero Energy Buildings, Net Zero Energy Buildings and Net Plus Energy Buildings. It has been widely adopted as a primary energy source in these buildings to balance the energy use after demand and energy reduction. The difference between the energy consumption and energy generation reflects the ZEB target.”

In the UAE, particularly, a Nearly Zero Energy Building (nZEB) in the UAE can be defined as a highly energy efficient building with a site EUI less than 90 kWh/m2/year and covers a significant portion of its annual energy use by renewable energy sources produced on-site or off-site.

To support the net zero movement, World GBC launched a project in 2017 called Advancing Net Zero (ANZ), which aims to promote and support the acceleration of net zero carbon buildings to all new buildings operating at net zero carbon by 2030 and all existing buildings by 2050.

GBCs committed to the ANZ have developed different pathways to support this movement - developing net zero certification schemes, engagement with corporate members and government, and developing industry capacity through training and education activities.

As part of the same project, WGBC launched the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment, which challenges companies, cities, states and regions to reach Net Zero operating emissions in their portfolios by 2030, and to advocate for all buildings to be Net Zero in operation by 2050.

Fayyad said: “We have 22 cities and 18 businesses that are committed to this including one UAE-based leading developer Majid Al Futtaim.

“I encourage you all to check this initiative and join the commitment to demonstrate the leadership of the MEP industry in mitigating climate change.”

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