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Arab universities urged to adopt district cooling

President and CEO of Idea calls for move to cut water and electricity consumption, as well as costs

District cooling has been adopted throughout the Middle East.
District cooling has been adopted throughout the Middle East.

Arab universities should adopt district cooling systems instead of conventional chilling methods to help reduce water and electricity consumption and cut costs, a construction industry expert has said.

Robert Thornton, the president and CEO of International District Energy Association (Idea), issued the call on the eve of the body’s annual conference in Dubai.

The event is being held under the patronage of Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman of Dubai Supreme Council of Energy and chairman and chief executive of Emirates Airline & Group, at Jumeirah Beach Hotel from 14 to 16 December.

“To simply define district cooling, it is a system to cool multiple nearby buildings from a highly efficient central plant via a chilled water piping network,” Thornton said.

“Many university campuses in the Arab world are significant energy users and may benefit by adoption of district cooling for a campus community to deliver reliable, efficient and more sustainable energy services,” he added.

According to Thornton, hundreds of North American colleges and universities such as Harvard, Cornell, Princeton, UCLA, UNC Chapel Hill and University of Michigan have highly efficient district energy systems and were active members of Idea where they come together to share their experience and successes.

“We welcome Arab universities to consider joining Idea to learn from their counterparts in North America on technologies and best practices in deploying district energy to achieve conservation of natural resources and reduce emissions of greenhouse gas emissions. On our campuses, district energy with combined heat & power (CHP) has often been the single most effective environmental strategy to reduce carbon emissions as part of a campus climate action plan,” said Thornton.

Ahmad Bin Shafar, the CEO of Empower, said: “District cooling delivers chilled water to buildings like offices, apartment towers and factories for cooling purposes. It is more environment friendly than using electricity to run compressors in conventional cooling.

“It allows an overall energy efficiency whose benefits Arab universities should not underestimate.

“District cooling systems can replace the air-cooled chiller systems used at universities in the Arab world that are currently consuming large amounts of electricity for their campus buildings,” he added.

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