Emirates Green Building Council unveils new guidelines for retrofitting of buildings

Bernd Debusmann Jr. (Chief Reporter) Filed on June 18, 2015

The 220-page document titled “Technical Guidelines for Retrofitting Existing Buildings” includes sections on energy and water use, as well as indoor air quality, materials and waste.

Saeed Al Abbar along with the contributors of guidelines for retrofitting buildings. — Supplied photo

Dubai — The Emirates Green Building Council (Emirates GBC) has unveiled new guidelines for the retrofitting of existing buildings to make them more environmentally friendly and more efficient.

The 220-page document titled “Technical Guidelines for Retrofitting Existing Buildings” includes sections on energy and water use, as well as indoor air quality, materials and waste, and innovation and management techniques designed to lower utility and labour costs for owners.

The guidelines have been endorsed by the Ministry of Public Works and the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy as conforming with the UAE’s National Agenda 2021, as well as the Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy and Abu Dhabi Vision 2030.

Speaking at the launch event, EmiratesGBC Chairman Saeed Al Abbar said there is massive potential to retrofit buildings.

“There are 120,000 buildings in Dubai alone. A lot of these were built prior to any sustainable or energy-efficient building codes in the UAE, so there is a large, large potential for retrofitting these,” he said, noting that the study identified 30,000 of these buildings as having a high energy-saving potential.

The guidelines also cover local and regional standards, building processes and new technologies available to increase energy efficiency and sustainability.

Al Abbar added that changing the behaviour of tenants — such as using unnecessary water and power — is a crucial part of making the UAE’s buildings more sustainable.

“We see that a large portion of the reason buildings consume energy or water is down to tenant behaviour, so we provide a set of guidelines on how building owners can educate tenants to use the buildings more sustainably,” he said.

“We can always have the most brilliantly designed buildings or most brilliant retrofits, but if the tenants aren’t using energy and water in an efficient way a lot of that is lost.”

Faisal Ali Hassan Rashid, Director of Demand Side Management at the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, said that retrofitting buildings will have an impact on the lives of every resident of the UAE.

“We all are affected by buildings one way or another. It’s the most important tangible asset on the planet. A building lasts a lifetime,” he said. “It (buildings) accounts for 85 percent of power-generating capacity and also 60 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.”

The guidelines note that almost three-quarters of the UAE’s ecological footprint is a result of energy generation and consumption caused by the burning of fossil fuels and the operation of inefficient buildings in the country.        


Bernd Debusmann Jr.

Originally from Mexico City, I've been in Dubai since January 2015. Before arriving in in the UAE I worked as a general news reporter in TV and print in Mexico City, NYC and Washington DC. I'm interested in defence issues, politics, technology, aviation and history. In my spare time i enjoy traveling and football - I'm a keen fan of Chelsea FC. I developed an interest in the Middle East traveling through Jordan and the West Bank. I have a BA in Political Science from Dickinson College in the USA and an MA in International Journalism from City University London.

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