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Top Billing

MEP speaks to ista Middle East FZE's MD Tarek El-Far

Tarek El-Far, ista Middle East FZE MD
Tarek El-Far, ista Middle East FZE MD

ista Middle East FZE MD Tarek El-Far explains how his company is pioneering the technology and services behind consumption-based billing.

Can you give us a bit of background on ista International?

ista is the global leader in energy and water consumption based billing. It stands behind more than 100 years of solid experience, with head offices in Germany, and a global presence and installations in 26 countries, plus millions of meters and billed units. Europe and the US are the main markets, served by 4600 employees.

When was it established in the UAE?

ista Middle East was established in 2007 to handle the Middle East, GCC and North Africa. It is currently represented in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The UAE’s leaders are visionary, and always on the outlook for the best global practices and innovative solutions, especially when it comes to energy savings and reduction of carbon emissions, so this is the perfect hub for ista in the Middle East.

What is your own background?

My engineering background, as well as my 15 years’ multinational experience in various countries, precipitated my involvement in best practices associated with utilities as well as real-estate developers.

What are consumption-based billing and sub-metering?

Metering is from the utility or district cooling plants to the building. Sub-metering is inside the building. The consumption cost is often distributed by square feet. This is not fair, since tenants do not know whose energy they are paying for, and cannot even arrange their own energy finances. Consumption-based billing means paying only for individual consumption based on the accurate reading of the sub-metering system.

What are your main products and services in terms of sub-metering?

As a one-stop solutions provider, ista offers both M-Bus and full radio frequency technology, including a full range of hardware, as well as a broad range of flexible billing solutions. Web portals, energy management, retrofitting and consultancy services are also an integral part of the portfolio.

What differentiates your company?

ista’s innovative wireless solution is cutting-edge technology. It features bi-directional frequency, whereby meters are sending and receiving. This eliminates the need for numerous data concentrators, saving hardware cost and time during installation and programming. It combines all types of energy (chilled water, water, gas and electricity) in a single bill, and includes a tailor-made web portal. This system has recently been awarded a best practice award for outstanding performance. The same system has been specified for the iconic Burj Dubai.

What about the ‘green’ debate?

Sub-metering provides credits for ‘green’ building ratings, which is why it is becoming mandatory. It is also proven to save 10% to 20%, but first you have to know exactly where energy is being used, so that you can manage it. Sub-metering identifies these areas. It helps facilities managers do a good job, and it helps optimise building designs and energy requirements. The innovative, technically superior solution available from ista makes this a cinch.

What is your customer base?

Utilities, real-estate developers, facilities managers and district cooling providers. Building management system suppliers and MEP contractors often also require such hardware. Mixed-use projects are another market segment.

What do you see as your main challenges and opportunities?

We often talk about privatisation, outsourcing and co-operation between the government and private sectors.

However, this is still not the case in our field. Energy providers should outsource services and focus on their core business. Authorities like the Dubai Green Building Council and Estidama will make this happen.

What is your outlook for the future?

Service businesses have been the least affected compared to others but, of course, it has slowed us down.

Looking on the bright side, it has enhanced awareness of cost-saving and energy efficiency. Recently we have seen confirmed signs of economic recovery, and we have absolute confidence in the GCC economy.

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