UAE construction industry backs energy-focused retrofits

By Dominic Ellis
EmiratesGBC study finds most respondents believe deep retrofits can yield 50 percent energy savings...

A study by the Emirates Green Building Council found most respondents believe deep retrofits can yield more than 50 percent energy savings in the UAE.

The findings of Advancing Deep Retrofits in the UAE, unveiled at an online webinar, showed 84 percent of respondents, covering consultants, suppliers, manufacturers and ESCO experts, backed the notion of green practice when carrying out major retrofits.

Ali Al Jassim, Chairman of EmiratesGBC, said: "We believe that achieving deep retrofits can be executed by implementing energy efficiency measures before the addition of on-site renewable energy generation. 

“We are committed to supporting the UAE’s goals for a greener future, with the nation being among the first to announce its commitment to the ‘Zero Carbon Buildings for All’ initiative, a multi-partner global initiative led by the World Resources Institute and endorsed by the UN Secretary General. Deep Retrofit plays a major role making this commitment a reality.”

The study was conducted to understand the current UAE retrofit market’s awareness and capabilities, as well as the challenges and opportunities related to deep building retrofit projects. It found there is no common standard used for reporting energy savings in the market, with some retrofit projects including renewable energy generation as part of the reported energy savings. This also prompts respondents to call for building retrofits to be made mandatory by the government. 

The study showcases the viewpoints of the key stakeholders in the UAE retrofit market to support in the development of national and emirate level roadmaps to deep retrofits and decarbonisation of the existing building stock, he adds.

From the developers’ perspective, 45 percent believe the retrofit market can be further accelerated by mandating energy and water performance certificates for existing buildings. If retrofits are mandated, 64 percent of the developers would prefer an annual reduction target (in kilowatt-hour) between 11 to 20 per cent. 

Highlighting the opportunity to execute deep retrofit in the UAE effortlessly, 70 percent of building industry stakeholders say technology for deep retrofit is already available in the market, while 60 percent observe there is a greater need for technical knowledge and experience for deep retrofits to be delivered successfully in the UAE.

“The long-term value of deep retrofit, which aims for 50 percent onsite energy use reduction, outpaces the initial costs where done effectively. The challenge today is not as much in project financing but on the need for industry stakeholders to go further into retrofitting and not look at just the easier tasks – such as lighting. That is why it is important to look at deep retrofitting to achieve the net zero goals,” Al Jassem adds.

The challenges highlighted by the respondents include lack of landlord interest and financial incentives, low tariff rates, high capital investments, and lack of government initiatives. 

Most of the respondents highlighted the need for benefits such as linking building performance to rental costs, dynamic tariffs rates to promote higher building efficiency, green loans or lower interest rates, tax-rebates and grants for energy efficiency-related projects, the report concludes.


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