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|20 Feb 2012|
The building envelope's importance related to 'green ratings'.
Building envelopes have a considerable amount of impact on 'green ratings', according to industry experts in UAE. “Ensuring that a building works holistically with a good knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of the available cladding materials in the market can greatly increase energy efficiency,” said Stuart Clarke, an Associate Director at Arup and a Middle East Facade Engineering Leader. This will work as one of the many criteria to up the ante for attaining a 'green rating' in UAE, he added.
The orientation of the buildings is first priority. “Insulation also plays a key role. Large areas of opaque wall are a cost-effective way to get a good performance from the building,” he added. The Society of Facade Engineering was formed in 2004 as joint initiative of CIBSE, IStructE and the RIBA. In 2009, it set up the regional chapter in Dubai.
“Historically, in terms of 'green rating' in the UAE, we have had LEED and occasionally, modified versions of LEED to make it appropriate for this region. Since Estidama was created by the UPC in Abu Dhabi, we are finding that people are making more references to the Pearl benchmark, not just in Abu Dhabi, but also the rest of UAE (even though the requirements are only required in Abu Dhabi).”
He sees it as a good sign. Estidama means ‘sustainability’ in Arabic. He added that there are 45 LEED certified projects in the UAE (“hundreds registered in 2008/2009 but will likely never be completed”).The famous LEED buildings in Dubai are Pacific Controls building (LEED Platinum – New Construction), and Dubai Chamber of Commerce (LEED Certified – Existing Buildings). “Both are first in the region in their category,” he said.
“Estidama has made excellent progress since its inception,” said Edwin Young, Program Advisor, Program Implementation & Execution at Estidama. “We have almost 100 design assessments completed within UPC and two completed construction projects. Estidama is now in the DNA of most developments; taking on board sustainable values from the concept design through to the project delivery.”
The Pearl Rating System (PRS) is a program encompassing a Pearl Building Rating System (PBRS), a Pearl Community Rating System (PCRS (a minimum permanent residential population of 1,000 people)) and a Pearl Villa Rating System (PVRS), introducing rating practices across the design and construction phases of development projects. Ratings start at 1 Pearl and progress to 5 Pearl.
The system provides a set of measurable guidelines for rating sustainability performance of communities, buildings, and large-scale developments of villas.
It addresses seven categories (there are mandatory and optional credits as well as weights with maximum credit points delivered to each)
- Integrated Development Process or IDP (13 credit points against 10 for communities)
- Natural Systems (12 credit points against 14 for communities)
- Livable Buildings (37 credit points against 38 for communities)
- Precious Water (43 credit points against 37 for communities)
- Resourceful Energy (44 credit points against 42 for communities)
- Stewarding Materials (28 credit points against 18 for communities)
- Innovating Practice (3 credit points for buildings and communities)
The building envelope plays a definite role in terms of attaining these ratings, added Young. “The envelope construction and verification is intrinsic to the usage of energy within any development. Our focus is not just on elemental values but the quality of construction. In the years to come, air leakage reduction will play a large role in reduction of energy usage,” he said. “Energy is only one section in our rating methodology but accounts for approximately 25 percent of the points available. Water is another big component. We have had around 22 ongoing projects coming into UPC so far in 2012 and are about to award a 2 Pearl to a development of 3,000 villas, which is part of the National Housing Program."
People are definitely modifying the way they are designing buildings, agreed Jeff Willis, vice-chairman of the Emirates Green Building Council (EGBC). “The current building materials available in the market offer the right quality necessary for Pearl ratings in terms of window and wall systems. If any new consultant needs help in sourcing the right materials, the UPC can help them to find them and the EGBC is also happy to provide them assistance." The EGBC was established in 2006 as an independent forum to help shape policies for built environment and promote sustainable practices in the UAE.
“We are now looking at a stage where owners are upgrading their buildings in the UAE and asking us how to improve the building life and energy performance to the level of the tenants needs in the coming decade,” said Clarke. “It shows that the market is maturing. We have done projects elsewhere such as countries like Singapore where companies have dramatically reduced their energy bill by replacing the façade of the Singapore Power HQ (in the solid areas, we applied additional insulation and aluminium panels and on the glazed areas, we replaced all the aluminium and glass with thermal-break frames and double glazed windows. By getting the U value of frames from 1.8 to 2.4 without much effort is another change that can be done locally without additional costs.” One just needs to change the mindset.
© Written exclusively for The Future Build by Sona Nambiar.