EGBC Focus Day discusses importance of retrofits

Event was attended by more than 90 industry professionals

Essa Al Zaabi, senior vice president - Institutional Support Sector, Dubai Chamber
Essa Al Zaabi, senior vice president - Institutional Support Sector, Dubai Chamber

Emirates Green Building Council (EGBC) held its first Focus Day of the year in partnership with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry by hosting a discussion that highlighted best practices in retrofitting existing buildings to make them more energy efficient.

Attended by more than 90 representatives from across the building industry supply chain, the Focus Day discussed at length the challenges and opportunities in retrofitting buildings.

Experts from the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, Dubai Municipality, Etihad ESCO and Etisalat Facilities Management shared best practices in refurbishing buildings to promote the rational use of energy and water.

Addressing the participants, Essa Al Zaabi, senior vice president - Institutional Support Sector, Dubai Chamber, said it was instrumental in leading the business community in the area of greening existing buildings in the region.

"This initiative is in line with the Dubai government's directives to promote the sustainability of buildings and safety in the workplace which have become a priority for successful corporate strategies,” Al Zaabi said.

"Dubai Chamber has shown the way for the private sector by securing the basic level LEED certification from the United States Green Building Council as the first existing building in the region in 2009, and now receiving LEED Platinum, the highest possible rating and another first in the Arab world,” he explained.

“This was achieved at no extra cost and effort but through simple initiatives, which contributed to tremendous electricity and water savings, besides conserving the environment and promoting the health of the employees,” Al Zaabi added.

Jeffrey Willis, vice chairman, EGBC, said the emphasis on retrofitting green buildings at the Focus Day underlined the strong need to promote public private partnerships to drive built environment sustainability.

"The UAE has set impressive milestones in built environment sustainability, and Dubai Chamber's LEED Platinum certification is a strong example of how this can be achieved cost-effectively,” Willis said.

“While new developments in the city are placing emphasis on green features, it is important that we also focus on retrofitting existing buildings to accelerate our goal of achieving the 'green economy for sustainable development' vision announced by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai,” he added.

At the Focus Day, Abdullah Rafia, assistant director general for engineering and planning sector, and head of the Sustainability Committee in Dubai Municipality, explained how new green building guidelines apply to existing buildings, while Katarina Hasbani, senior analyst, demand management at Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, presented Dubai's strategy for building regulations and retrofits.

Stephane Le Gentil, CEO, Etihad ESCO, presented the ESCO guidelines for energy efficiency improvement, while Waleed J Khoury, COO, EMS, and Antoine Massad, senior manager – strategy and business development, Etisalat FM, shared his company’s experience promoting green buildings.

Jagatha Gunawardena, senior manager, projects and building development, Dubai Chamber, presented a case study on Dubai Chamber's experience in securing the LEED Platinum certification. He also joined a panel discussion on the challenges and barriers to greening the existing buildings, along with Simon Roopchand, general manager, energy services, Emrill, Abdullah Rafia, and Stephane Le Gentil.

Commenting on the event, Saeed Al Abbar, chairman, EmiratesGBC, said: "The strong participation at the Focus Day, by experts from both the public and private sector, is a strong demonstration of the concerted efforts being undertaken in Dubai to promote green built environments. We will continue to develop industry events that promote dialogue on the challenges and opportunities in built environment sustainability."

 

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