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Experts discuss the sustainable benefits of retrofit projects

by Neha Bhatia on Sep 2, 2017

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In a city known for constructing the world’s tallest tower and largest mall, building refurbishments might come across as a minor necessity.

However, as long-term residents of Dubai will have noticed, key landmarks across the city have, over the years, undergone renovation and refurbishment works, only to emerge as more sustainable and functional spaces.

For instance, a refurbishment programme is currently underway at Dubai’s Jumeirah Beach Hotel, which, upon completion, will offer “a refreshed look for 175 rooms and suites, and upgrades to a number of [the] most popular guest facilities”, according to the hotel’s website. The refurbishment started this May and is expected to be completed in November 2017.

In July, hotel operator Atlantis Resorts & Residences also began a $100m (AED367.3m) refurbishment programme at its flagship property, Atlantis, The Palm.

Announced in 2016, the project will see a three-year refurbishment programme implemented for all rooms, suites, bars, and restaurants throughout the hotel. The plan also includes the refurbishment of 1,539 rooms and suites, with 50 rooms and suites being refurbished every six weeks, to ensure that the guest experience is not impacted.

Indeed, hospitality is emerging as a key sector for refurbishment works in the GCC, and particularly in the UAE. In November 2016, Emirates Green Building Council (EmiratesGBC) published a report  titled Energy and Water Benchmarking for UAE Hotels, which recorded unsatisfactory energy-use intensity (EUI) and water-use intensity (WUI) across 46 hospitality properties in the country.

The report drew on information such as the properties’ general, physical, and operational characteristics, as well as their annual energy and water consumption data between 2013 and 2015. 

The study found that UAE hotels have “unequal energy and water performance, with high potential for significant savings using viable and affordable existing technologies”, according to a statement by EmiratesGBC.

“There is a strong need to replace old fixtures and ensure maintenance of water systems, with laundry services and landscaping contributing heavily to WUIs,” the statement explained. “The study also found that poor-performing hotels consume three times the amount of energy, and 7.4 times the amount of water compared to the best-performing hotels.” 

Hotels built “more recently” were found to benefit from newer technologies and efficient design, as well as stringent codes and regulations. However, this trend highlights the need for older properties to “consider retrofit as a solution to reduce their carbon footprint”, the statement added.