Construction sector must innovate to tackle global warming challenges
DC PRO Engineering CEO George Berbari says to industry leaders that the region’s construction sector must start to innovate
Mitigating climate change is a global priority, more than 114 countries have identified the issue as critical, having ratified the Paris Climate Change Agreement back in 2015, while industries and business leaders have a crucial role to play in the race for a cleaner, greener earth.
Construction and engineering are sectors that can lead that charge to a better future if key industry figures consider their options and embrace new technologies. They must adopt more efficient Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems to reduce industry CO2 emission levels and play their part in reversing climate change.
Better construction of homes, including improved walls and roof insulations, minimal glass to wall ratio of less than 25%, combined with motorised and insulated rolling shutters, will boost energy efficiency. More efficient systems that can make a difference include geothermal water-cooled chillers, independent radiant cooling with phase-changing energy storage material and independent fresh air dehumidification chilled water systems with double heat recovery.
Building designs that include swimming pools can contribute with the implementation of heating and cooling systems using waste heat recovery and a geothermal/cooling tower combined with industrial controls and home automations.
Moreover, grey water recycling, food waste composting and other integrated technologies can also help produce the most efficient house in the region that would consume less than 50 KWh/m2/year.
Geothermal air-conditioning comprises water-cooled chillers, condenser pump and condenser piping, and a heat intake and rejection wells to dissipate the heat in the ground, along with gypsum based panels with engrooved chilled water piping for walls and ceiling as well as under-floor piping.
The technologies are well known on their own, but few people have dared to put the effort in to integrate them and push the envelope way beyond their comfort zone of old, tested and frequent used technologies. As engineers, it is up to us to offer our clients a choice.
We are blessed in the Gulf region, as well as in the Red Sea coastal areas, with high water tables that are a few meters deep (2 to 7m). This in itself a key enabler for geothermal air conditioning. It’s imperative that the industry invests time in studying hydro-geological research data and thermal testing data to ensure energy efficiency becomes as a priority.
Zero-energy designs have an important role to play in the future of construction. A zero-energy building produces enough renewable energy to meet its own annual energy consumption requirements, thereby reducing the use of non-renewable energy in the construction sector.
Zero-energy buildings have already been implemented and have proved to be huge a success. Take a typical 38,000 m² school where the cooling is 1,500 TR and power consumption is 6,270,000 KWh/year or 165 KWh/m2/year. By adopting zero-energy techniques and initiatives, such as solar panels, this approach will lead to a total cooling load of just 700 TR of chillers and 2,000 Ton-Hr of thermal storage tank and power consumption of 3,300,000 KWh/year or 87 KWh/m2/year.
At DC PRO we have successfully designed Zero-Energy Villa. A typical villa of approximately 500 m² consumes about 150 W/m² - a total demand of approximately 75 KW. The DC PRO-designed villa, incorporating efficient HVAC and solar panels, consumes less than 40 kWh/m²/year with a total demand load of less than 50 W/m².