The UAE is spearheading a new culture of sustainability and it will have a significant influence on everyday lifestyle in the coming years
Picture this: Your rooftop has a solar panel. You generate electricity that you need, and you give the excess to the national electricity grid. The monthly bill becomes an exercise where, in all probability, you will be receiving money from the government.
Now, this would have appeared extremely far-fetched in the Middle East region not many years ago. When there are enough oil and gas reserves, why even bother about investing in solar panels? There are also other worries to be addressed, including the protection of the panels from dust and other mitigating factors that limit their efficiency.
Today, however, this is becoming a reality, and this thrust on renewable energy is going to be the new narrative for the region in the not-so-distant future.
The UAE has been at the forefront in shaping this ‘green energy’ narrative. In 2011, the UAE government had announced its ‘green economy for sustainable development’ vision. A commitment to sustainability is also ingrained in the UAE Vision 2021 document.
Tapping solar power
For many years, there have been isolated efforts to tap the power of solar energy and explore environmentally sustainable initiatives to ensure water and power use efficiency. In fact, Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, has incorporated several green features in its construction.
For example, its high performance exterior cladding system has a high shading co-efficient and low U-value (which relates to the ability of the material to transmit heat from outside to inside) to reduce the transfer of external heat.
Further, the tower has a unique cooling condensate system, whereby the water that is generated through the significant amount of condensation due to the humid climate is collected and drained in a separate piping system to a holding tank. This provides about 15 million gallons of supplement water a year, equal to about 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
A number of solar panels are also used to meet a bulk of the water-heating requirement of residents, which are estimated to be totally about 100,000 to 150,000 litres a day. A significant portion of this is heated up using solar power.
In other key achievements to securing a greener environment, the iconic headquarters of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry has now received the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification, which is the highest possible rating. Dubai Chamber is the first to secure this honour in the Arab world, having already gained the basic-level LEED certification in 2009.
(Read the full article in the April 2016 issue of Safety Messenger Magazine)