Dubai to introduce energy efficiency rankings for buildings

Dubai Municipality is planning to introduce a new ranking system for rating a building’s energy efficiency and a new law setting minimum standards for retrofitting properties.

Speaking at the Emirates Green Building Council’s annual congress in Dubai on Monday, Nabil Siyam, the principal building studies specialist at Dubai Municipality, said that both the ranking system and the retrofitting standards are likely to be introduced in January next year.

“This will be four categories and will be introduced from 1 January 2016,” he said, referring to the rankings.

The entry-level for ranking buildings will be the bronze category and will be based on the minimum standards that buildings need to meet under Dubai Municipality’s Green Building Regulations, which were initially introduced for government buildings in 2010 but became mandatory for all new buildings last year.

“Then there are some enhancements or new requirements for the other classifications,” Mr Siyam said. The new law governing retrofits for existing buildings, meanwhile, is likely to follow a similar pattern to the rules for new buildings that became mandatory last year in that it will not be compulsory for private projects in the first instance.

“It will be launched but always Dubai Municipality will be giving our stakeholders an optional period,” said Mr Siyam.

He said he could not give a date at this stage as to when it might become compulsory.

Meanwhile, Dubai’s Supreme Council of Energy senior director of strategy and planning, Taher Diab, said that it is in the process of developing an “energy intensity map” for Dubai.

“This is actually a tool where you can look at where is Dubai’s highest [energy] consumption.That is naturally going to target older buildings and facilities.

“We’re going to be looking at a sample of commercial, residential and industrial, and then take it to the step where Etihad Esco, for example, can focus their strategic planning on where to target building retrofits.”

Etihad Esco is a company that was set up by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority in 2013 with a remit to help to improve the energy efficiency of Dubai’s existing building stock.

Abu Dhabi already has its own energy efficiency ranking for buildings, known as Pearl ratings under its Estidama regime. However, thus far in Dubai, companies looking to prove a building’s green credentials have generally adopted the US Green Building Council’s Leed (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards. As a result, the UAE has the eighth-largest stock of Leed-rated buildings outside the United States at 3.1 million square metres.

The new retrofitting law will utilise a framework that was developed into a set of technical standards by the Emirates Green Building Council this year.

Saeed Al Abbar, the chairman of the Emirates Green Building Council, which is a not-for-profit industry body, said there are 120,000 existing buildings in Dubai and that many of these were built before any energy efficiency or sustainability regulations were in place.

“Even those that were built within the regulations, some are five or six years old and need fine-tuning or refurbishing to ensure they are performing as well as they should be.”

About 35,000 of these have been identified as being suitable for major retrofits but others could benefit from improvements in operational and maintenance practices to enhance their lifespan, he added.

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