Smart buildings vital for ME sustainability

Smart buildings vital for region's long term viability, experts say

Technosphere in Dubai is currently under construction, but has experienced some delays following the financial crisis.
Technosphere in Dubai is currently under construction, but has experienced some delays following the financial crisis.

Industry professionals say that in the future, Dubai will require significantly more smart buildings if it is to successfully reduce energy usage and enhance sustainability in the region.

In an interview with Construction Week, Hyder’s head of electrical engineering in the UAE, Matt Jones, said, “It’s a great leap forward in the user experience of buildings, abilities of facilities managers to understand and monitor their buildings and for energy usage to be reduced.

“This is a natural progression of building design as technology progresses and in a field where there has been very little change in many years. This technology paves the way for an improved future for the complete built environment."

Other experts agreed, alluding to a new responsibility on developers, and an emirate-wide sustainability drive, prioritised in 2009 by Dubai's leader Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

“Developers have a duty of care to ensure buildings minimise energy consumption once they are operational. They need to recognise the importance of controlling energy usage and energy costs within a building in response to the escalating energy prices and the 'green' movement to reduce carbon emissions,” said the Sunland Group’s COO David Brown.

Nathan Hones, the general manager of Stride Treglown architects Abu Dhabi, added, “Building Management Systems are crucial to the effective operation and efficient running of buildings at various times of the day.

“With Sheikh Mohammed’s mandate that all buildings must be green back in 2009, this has put the focus firmly on developers and owners to deliver buildings that are socially responsible and sustainable.”

In Europe, where smart buildings were first conceptualised, it is still the case that only 10% of buildings have efficient and effective controls.

In the Middle East, there continues to be very few smart buildings, but contractors and suppliers say that number is increasing, with projects like Le Rêve in Dubai, the Yas Marina hotel in Abu Dhabi and the Waseel Tower and Mövenpick in Riyadh all completed in recent years.

Unfortunately, the global financial crisis has stunted many flagship developments in the area, with those such as The Pad and The Technosphere in Dubai both encountering delays.

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