Atkins takes up challenge of zero-carbon tower in Dubai

Plans for green development for DIFC will start a "groundswell" of innovative builds, says architect

In the face of growing awareness of global carbon emissions, the construction industry is well placed to come up with innovative solutions.
In the face of growing awareness of global carbon emissions, the construction industry is well placed to come up with innovative solutions.

The world's first zero-carbon emission tower could be built in Dubai, Construction Week has learned.

Atkins Middle East is currently working on the design of the building, which will be located in Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).

Lee Morris, senior architect, Atkins Middle East, said that the tower is in the early stages of design.


"We are working on a potential project for DIFC and are looking at it having zero-carbon emission. The tower would produce its own power - enough to counter the energy use of the building. Now that would be a huge goal."

He added: "It is conceptual, but it has been given a piece of land, and it has been approved by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum [vice-president and prime minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai]."

In order to achieve its ultimate design, Morris said that Atkins will focus on the tower's orientation, the increased thermal insulation of the building, along with high-volume photovoltaic cells.

The company is also looking into integrating wind turbines on the building.

"It will be expensive - it has to be because the technology we are going to be using is probably a couple of years away from the mainstream," said Morris.

According to Morris, the move to build an iconic building that is sustainable reflects a growing change in Dubai.

"Once you get this groundswell it is going to be awesome and will be hard to resist. The Dubai government has signed the Kyoto protocol, so it has made a commitment to engage on this. And as the country and development matures, particularly as it is a young society, and it is this same society that will bring in views on this kind of thing, I think the next few years will see a sea change."

Atkins' sustainable building projects in the region include the Bahrain World Trade Centre, which uses wind turbines to generate up to 15% of the building's energy, and the Trump Tower on Palm Jumeirah, which has vertically mounted solar panels to generate energy as well as pipes running through the external skin of the building, which heat water.

Other buildings in the emirate that have made strides towards going ‘green' include Wafi City's district cooling plant, which in January achieved the Gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) status, the first accreditation of its kind in the Middle East.

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Construction Week - Issue 767
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