Green solutions are not always expensive

Hazem Al Mousli, project director, PMP tells us how green solutions are not always expensive and talks us through a few tricks of the trade to achieve this.

AL MOUSLI: Green solutions can save developers millions
AL MOUSLI: Green solutions can save developers millions

Hazem Al Mousli, project director, PMP tells us how green solutions are not always expensive and talks us through a few tricks of the trade to achieve this.

In compliance with the UAE's movement to incorporate green solutions into the design and construction of new developments, stakeholders are now aiming to find out practical solutions and methodologies that can participate in saving energy while maintaining the quality and budget set for the development.

Thinking simple

In a workers' accommodation project that is planned to accommodate 25,000 people, many proposals were put on the table for discussion; most were complicated and required thorough assessment to explore their feasibility.

However, during a value engineering session an interesting and simple question was raised: After a long day of hard work, workers would definitely need to take a shower; so what is the best way to heat the water for them?

Spontaneously, the MEP engineer's answer was to provide central electrical calorifiers (heaters). That's the common method adopted to provide huge amounts of heated water.

Regardless of the engineer's answer the question was decisive; especially when it was found that heating the required amount of water would consume 32,528 KW/hr of energy daily.

By realising the considerable daily electricity consumption, the door was widely opened inviting all the design engineers to explore other alternative solutions.

Consequently, that was the first attempt toward adhering to client directions.

Thinking green

Convincing a conservative MEP engineer to discover alternative and distinctive solutions wasn't easy.

However, being in the Gulf region where almost every day is sunny has made the task much easier.

The decision to use solar energy to heat water becomes evident. It was without a doubt one of the best solutions for the Gulf region; installing a solar heating system will provide a cost-effective and green solution for a simple and necessary daily chore - a shower.

Solar heating system

The next step was to search for the latest technology in solar energy and the best available solar heating system that could satisfy requirements such as scope, quality, time and cost.

A proven technology using all glass evacuated solar collector tubes was found to be the best solution. The tubes were designed to feature excellent solar heat absorption and minimal heat reflection. The air is evacuated from the tubes to form a vacuum, which eliminates conductive and convective heat loss.

Although cloudy days are not regular in the UAE during the winter, the selected evacuated tube solar collectors are able to absorb the energy from infrared rays, which can pass through clouds.

When the selected solar heating system is compared to other commonly used systems such as flat plate solar collectors, one will find that wind and low temperatures have less of an effect on the efficiency of the former system due to the insulating properties of the vacuum of the evacuated tubes.

The amazing numbers

Based on the selected solar heating system a comprehensive technical and cost analysis was conducted, and it was found that adopting the solar heating system would lead to significant savings in both capital and commissioning costs compared to the electrical heating system. Furthermore, the maintenance cost of the solar heating system is almost negligible.

Initial calculations resulted in savings of US $3,978,201 in the capital cost and $378,988 per year in the commissioning cost. The calculations were based on speculative assumptions that resulted in minimum projected savings.

This method will gave a true indication to the client but the savings are subject to increase due to possible future increments in the local electricity consumption tariff.

Another number was revealed when calculations were concluded. Amazingly, the overall saving was $15,347,841 over a period of 30 years which was the life of the development.

Saving the planet

Who says that green solutions are always expensive? This misconception shall change sooner and not later. It is our role to explore solutions and find out ways to save our planet.

It is time to realise that adopting green solutions, in every aspect of our lives, is not the only role of particular organisations or government sectors; it is a progressive collaboration between all of us that shall start and never stop.

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Construction Week - Issue 767
Sep 01, 2020