The drive towards sustainability and energy savings has etched an indelible mark into the UAE construction sector’s narrative in 2019, catalysed by the country’s endorsement of the ‘Zero Carbon Buildings for All’ initiative.
Launched at the 2019 United Nations Climate Action Summit, the initiative is backed by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and recognised by the UN Secretary General. It challenges companies, cities, states, and regions to reach net zero operating emissions by 2030.
In order to attain this feat, the UAE has had to evaluate some of the prime causes of energy consumption and carbon emissions – and at the root of the problem lies: Buildings. This includes buildings that have been constructed as well as those that are still in the project pipeline.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), currently occupied buildings and the construction sector together account for 36% of the global energy consumption. The buildings construction sector is responsible for nearly 40% of total direct and indirect CO2 emissions.
Taking cognizance of the detrimental impact of buildings on the environment, the emirates of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and Ras Al Khaimah have all begun to actively transition into smart and sustainable cities. These cities have turned the spotlight on the energy efficiency of their buildings, specifically existing ones.
At the centre of that spotlight lies the protagonist of this article – retrofitting – which refers to measures being taken to replace legacy energy and utility systems with new technologies.
These technologies not only reduce energy consumption and decrease carbon emissions, but also lower maintenance costs, improve safety, enhance productivity, and boost property valuations.