Dubai’s de­vel­op­ers and land­lords must retro­fit to save en­ergy, expert says

The National - News - - NEWS EMIRATES - PA­TRICK RYAN

Land­lords and de­vel­op­ers who fail to in­vest in their build­ings risk un­nec­es­sary re­pair bills.

Habiba Al Marashi, chair­woman of Emi­rates En­vi­ron­men­tal Group, said retrofitti­ng air con­di­tion­ing and plan­ning for the long term could help keep costs down.

At the Knowl­edge Summit in Dubai World Trade Cen­tre, she said smart prop­erty own­ers stayed on top of main­te­nance.

She called for retrofits of en­ergy-sav­ing tech­nol­ogy to be made manda­tory in all build­ings in the emi­rate.

“Wise prop­erty own­ers are be­ing proac­tive and look­ing at ways they can in­crease the longevity of their build­ings,” she said. “If they make a longterm in­vest­ment by retrofitti­ng they won’t have mas­sive re­pair bills every few years.

“It is to their ad­van­tage to make the changes now be­cause there’s a chance it could be­come manda­tory soon and when that hap­pens the costs will be sky high,” she said.

Of­fi­cials at Dubai Supreme Coun­cil of En­ergy pre­vi­ously com­mit­ted to re­duc­ing car­bon emis­sions in the emi­rate by 30 per cent be­fore 2030.

As part of that aim, au­thor­i­ties are en­cour­ag­ing home own­ers to in­stall new light­ing, wa­ter and air-con­di­tion­ing prod­ucts to help re­duce con­sump­tion.

Dubai Elec­tric­ity and Wa­ter Author­ity said it would retro­fit 30,000 build­ings by 2030.

It hopes to re­duce car­bon diox­ide by a mil­lion tonnes and save 21.2 bil­lion litres of wa­ter. The project is ex­pected to save Dh82 bil­lion in en­ergy costs.

“Not hav­ing a manda­tory [retrofitti­ng] re­quire­ment means they can say, ‘Why should I do it? The law does not re­quire me to do it’,” Ms Al Marashi said.

“They are be­ing naive though and they will lose out. Con­sumers to­day are very knowl­edge­able. When they go to rent or buy they will want to know about the sus­tain­abil­ity fea­tures of the prop­erty.

“They will ask about what they are be­ing of­fered in terms of qual­ity of life.”

Ivano Ian­nelli, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Dubai Car­bon, an en­vi­ron­men­tal cam­paign group, said part of the prob­lem was peo­ple putting quick fixes be­fore longterm gains.

“Retrofitti­ng im­proves an as­set, but what hap­pens is peo­ple don’t un­der­stand the value in mak­ing im­prove­ments,” he said. “Quite of­ten, they’ll just try and pa­per over the prob­lem. Some peo­ple think noth­ing of buy­ing a new part for a faulty air-con­di­tion­ing unit at Dh1,000 a pop, in­stead of buy­ing an en­tirely new unit for just a lit­tle bit more than that.

“You might think you are sav­ing money by only re­plac­ing the part, but what hap­pens if it breaks down five or six times?”

Mr Ian­nelli said it was a ques­tion of ed­u­cat­ing ten­ants and prop­erty own­ers about the fi­nan­cial ben­e­fits of hav­ing more en­ergy-ef­fi­cient sys­tems in their homes.

“Not retrofitti­ng is like hav­ing a bucket with leaks and try­ing to patch it up in­stead of buy­ing a new bucket with no holes in it,” he said. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

Also at the summit was Khalid Al Awadi, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the en­vi­ron­men­tal health and safety sec­tor for Dubai Mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

“Build­ing own­ers need to change their mind­sets,” he said. “The ir­ra­tional con­sump­tion of en­ergy re­sources must be re­jected. If we do not pro­tect our re­sources we will drown.”

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