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King-size Challenge

by Gavin Davids on Sep 13, 2011

Jalayerian Mehdi says that he expects the Kingdom Tower to set the next milestone for MEP in supertall buildings.
Jalayerian Mehdi says that he expects the Kingdom Tower to set the next milestone for MEP in supertall buildings.

“You don’t have to install significant capacities for it,” Jalayerian says, “this system is distributed through the heat exchanger system. Within each zone there are systems that are adapted towards each occupant. For example, office buildings would have more of a conventional approach, typically done for offices with the BAV system.”

“The hotel is generally designed as what you’d see in most hotels, where you have fan cooling units dedicated to each room. We send chilled water to each of those packages.
Residential is fairly similar to hotels, the exception is the larger zones that it deals with. Distribution is fairly straightforward, once you have the primary side of it resolved.”

Additionally, he says that there are significant sustainability advantages to gain from using this method, especially in the installed HVAC and electrical systems of the buildin, which can use as much as 25% less energy than what would be typically used in a standalone individual occupancy building.

“There are significant sustainability advantages to the larger grouping of these units. To be able to take advantage of the overlapping capacities and redundancies and also because of the combined efforts of all the services, overall, you’re probably 20% - 25% less on energy requirements for a residential unit in this building, with let’s say, a comparable area villa.”

Jalayerian says that the electrical design of the building is yet another challenge that ESD will face as it seeks to distribute power to all parts of the building liking it to trying to power a city.

“A very tall building is like a city standing vertically. Cities are generally distributed from high voltage to load centre points and transformed at that point and then distributed to a group of buildings that are in the city.”

“The same applies to a very tall building. You bring in high voltage systems vertically and you distribute to load centres, go through the transformation and then distribute downstream. Again, that goes back to the concept we had of smaller buildings stacked on top of one another,” Jalayerian says.

With Saudi Arabia experiencing a serious electricity supply problem, the engineering consultancy has designed the building to be as energy efficient as it can be.
As a result the company will be configuring the building, right from the initial design stages, to be energy efficient.

“I think the big part of any design is the integration of all thought processes. We truly believe that you don’t get efficiency only from the HVAC systems. I think most people may think that, [but] the big part of efficiency comes from the development itself.”

“The configuration of the building, the organisation of it and how the building loads are envisioned for the project,” he says.

“For this project, it’s a three legged type of project, it is similar to the Burj Khalifa in the way it’s oriented.”

“Obviously, in the Middle East, you want to avoid large east and west facades, those are low and harsh morning and afternoon sunlight that would be imposing on the building.
This building’s façades, they’re actually north-east and north-west so they’re away from the harsh solar.”

“[With] the South façade, it is longer. In that position, you have the solar directly overhead, shining at a steep angle to the building, with minimised load. So the shape has a lot to do with reducing the environmental impact of the building.”

ESD has also worked with the project’s architectural team on the high performance aspects of the building wall itself.

From the wall design to the glass performance that reduces the solar gains for the project, the consultancy has endeavoured to ensure that wind and airflow around the building do not adversely affect its systems’ operations.

In conclusion, Jalayerian says that while the project remains a massive undertaking, it shouldn’t overshadow the effect it could have on both Saudi Arabia and the construction industry as a whole, terming the Kingdom Tower a ‘catalyst’ for region.

“I think this building, being the centrepiece of a major master-plan development, is going to be a catalyst to increase the economic viability of the remaining development through increased values and high attraction.”

“At the same time, technologically, I think it’s setting the next milestone (in MEP). Both from an engineering standpoint and, I’m sure, in structural, as well as in systems and architecture. I think it’s a wonderful project,” he asserts before signing off.

Mehdi Jalayerian
Mr. Mehdi Jalayerian is Executive Vice President and Managing Principal of the International and Commercial Projects Division for Environmental Systems Design, Inc. (ESD), which provides worldwide consulting services for major high-rise buildings, assembly venues, convention/hotel facilities, central cooling/heating/electric plants and educational/government projects. 

Mr. Jalayerian has received eight ASHRAE Excellence in Engineering and Technology awards, an Illinois Engineering Council award, and a Chicago Building Congress Award for his projects. 

In 1982, he received Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Kansas is Registered Professional Engineer in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland and Virginia. 

Mr. Jalayerian has published several articles pertaining to mechanical design with a special focus on sustainable design and flexibility, and serves as Adjunct/Research Professor for IIT Department of Architecture and is a member and chairman of Energy and Sustainability task force at the Chicago Committee on High Rise Buildings. 

Mr. Jalayerian has over 28 years of experience in HVAC and sustainable design practice, during which he has been responsible for building system design for numerous worldwide projects including many high rises and high performance buildings including the world’s first positive energy large scale building known as Masdar Headquarters in Abu Dhabi.