Design and construction costs account for an estimated 20% of a building's total lifetime cost (the remaining 80% is spent on operations, maintenance and management). Approximately 30% of the total lifetime cost of a typical building in the UAE is AC-related. So the cost of keeping a building cool in Dubai eventually exceeds the initial cost of construction. For developers who want to hang onto the projects they build, that's incentive enough to find alternative, more sustainable AC-solutions.
Government also has incentive to look beyond conventional AC systems for the 11,636 active projects under construction in the UAE (with an estimated value of $805 billion). Power shortages are not uncommon in the Gulf States, and there is an increasing risk of brownouts and blackouts in the region. The UAE will require an additional 1,500 megawatts annually for the coming decade to cover the increasing power needs.
Staying on top of national power needs has not stopped the UAE from leading the movement toward low-carbon development and to closing the 'emissions gap'. Developers now understand that buildings can adopt a number of affordable strategies to cut CO2 emissions while keeping their operating and capital expenses within or below budget.
Our TermoDeck engineers worked closely with the team that designed and built Masdar's Eco-Villa, a prototype residential villa that achieved a 4 Pearl rating according to the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council’s Estidama Pearl Building Rating System. Installing the TermoDeck system, and all the other water and energy-saving solutions did not result in a higher capital cost than a comparable villa without these advanced technologies. Green doesn't need to mean expensive.
We also have reports from air quality experts Envida that the air quality in our existing UAE buildings is 97% lower than the Dubai Municipality requirements - with negligible traces of mold, yeast and bacteria (in a building that has been operational for nearly two decades). Not only is the outdoor air benefitting from our use of off-peak power generation and low carbon emissions, but the indoor air is also as clean as can be - 8% lower than the most stringent international standard for green indoor air.
So if you're building your own home and wonder if its worthwhile to look outside conventional HVAC, the answer is, yes. Each of us has a responsibility to keep the planet livable for our future generations. With low cost, green solutions readily available to us, its smart for everyone to build right from the start.
These solutions, such as TermoDeck, solar energy and other energy-savings systems, are also being employed in commercial and institutional developments. GEMS Education Group has embraced the studies that link air quality to students' performance and has installed 'Learnometers' to sample classroom environments and check for levels of light, heat and air-quality. They've gone one step further by using TermoDeck in the construction of the GEMS Dubai American Academy. Smart moves by smart entities, one step at a time will help ensure that the UAE reaches its goal to have a 44 per cent national renewable energy target and a 40 per cent energy demand-reduction goal for 2050.
Many of us living in the UAE have the chance to actively participate in the growth of this incredible nation. If we work together, we can make sure that growth is sustainable, cleaner and greener for all, all at no extra cost.