Dubai should consider revitalising its buildings
Regulations for companies in the energy savings sector has been on the rise in the UAE, we examine how lucrative the space actually is
ISG Middle East recently completed the refurbishment works of Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Sports City Stadium, one of the oldest sports facilities in the UAE.
The stadium’s new fit out now features sustainable components like intelligent lighting to reduce energy consumption; air conditioning units that are connected to the building management system, allowing for air flow to be monitored and controlled; and cooling and fire suppression systems that don’t contribute to ozone depletion.
The refurbishment work included the renovation of staff administration offices, VIP lounge area, leasable Grade A offices, the public washrooms, and the entire flooring to the corridors in the upper concourse and ground floors.
The latest refurbishment is a series of many that the stadium has undergone, but the complex stands as a testament to high construction standards as it nears its 40th anniversary in 2019.
Hence, the market for fit-outs, refurbishments and energy retrofits is growing in the Middle East.
Meanwhile experts say the property market is facing fast depreciation of many buildings built little over a decade ago, when cost-cutting was a must. Peter Prischl, international and global head of corporate real estate, Drees & Sommer said: “We now find more and more buildings in dire need of fundamental repairs because of the low-quality materials used, built that way through necessity at the time. Couple that with the astronomical growth across hospitality and residential construction, and we are left with a highly competitive field within which developers are required to constantly innovate to ensure ROI,” added Prischl.
He was speaking at a panel discussion in Dubai which was moderated by MEFMA board member Ali Al Suwaidi. Experts, however, said a thorough revitalisation is up to ten times more expensive than a project ‘facelift’, which could involve new paint and a property deep clean, it could extend the average lease time of tenants in the residential and commercial sector.
He went on to explain that a building’s value depreciates over time, and the rate of depreciation is dependent upon three key quality factors: design, materials and construction. “Effective minimisation of depreciation can be achieved through regular maintenance of structure and MEP, as well as refurbishments. However, if we are to achieve renewed ROI, we must undergo a revitalisation project, ideally every 15 years.”
The case for ESCOs
Micha Pawelka, managing director at Priedemann Façade Engineering said that currently only 10% of buildings across the Middle East comply with the standard air leakage rate allowance. This makes the energy retrofit market a pivotal one, which is becoming a competitive sub-sector for fit, refurb and facilities management companies.
As for energy savings companies itself Sougata Nandi, founder of 3e Advisory said for the energy service company model to scale up, it is imperative that it is well regulated. DEWA’s Etihad ESCO, now referred to as Etihad ES, has been around for more than five years and has been regulating the energy retrofit and refurbishment sector. Meanwhile, the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA) has put together the Kafaati initiative of the Tarsheed programme and SEWA too is putting together their concept of the ESCO.
These initiatives are streamlining and standardising the ESCO business model, by managing such programmes on behalf of end customers, using unified contracts, best suited to the unique needs of the ESCO business. Historically, ESCO contracts have often been fractious, with no legal expertise existing in the region; sometimes ending in arbitration.