Comment: Energy management is ‘heating’ up across the UAE’s business landscape

Easa F. Al Gurg, CEO of Scientechnic, says that companies that invest in environmentally-friendly techniques when fitting out a new building will witness significant long term financial benefits.

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Easa F. Al Gurg, CEO of Scientechnic.
Easa F. Al Gurg, CEO of Scientechnic.

Manufacturing and industrial sectors have been traditional leaders in energy management strategies. Today, small to medium enterprises (SMEs) across several industry verticals are turning their attention towards implementing energy management practices. A joint effort is being made towards controlling and reducing energy consumption without compromising the demands of the society. The aim is to optimise energy use, save costs and reduce carbon footprint. While the specific requirements and practices differ depending on the sector, certain core principles apply to all users and involve the following steps: Collecting data and metering energy consumption; Identifying opportunities to save energy; Taking action to save energy; and Tracking the progress and ongoing improvement, on a regular basis.
Energy efficiency, also known as the ‘invisible fuel’ of production is a challenge in the UAE as a result of population growth, increased economic activity and high consumption rates.  According to a recent report by PriceWaterhouse Coopers (PwC), energy usage in the UAE has increased by an average of 4 per cent annually over the past six years. It is projected to grow by 5 per cent per year for the next two years through Expo 2020. To address this challenge, the UAE government launched the ‘Energy Strategy 2050’ which aims to increase the contribution of clean energy in the total energy mix from 25% to 50%; reduce the country’s carbon footprint of power generation by 70%, thus saving AED700bn by 2050. The objective being of fostering a culture of more responsible and efficient consumption amongst businesses and individuals alike.
Etihad ESCO, a DEWA venture was established in 2013 with the aim to create an energy performance contracting market in Dubai by developing energy efficient projects targeting more than 30,000 buildings. Its vision is to make Dubai a global model of green economy transition through partnership, leadership and adoption of energy efficiency technologies. The ventures’ end goal is to make Dubai one of the most sustainable cities in the world.

Capitalise on emerging technology
Projects that use energy efficiency methods can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing consumption of electricity and natural gas. With technological developments shaping how day-to-day operations are conducted, developers and facility management companies are adopting energy management methods to create green, energy-efficient offices and apartments.
The blueprint for this involves small changes which are effective and easy to implement. For example, retrofitting traditional light bulbs with modern LED lighting lamps and luminaires which results in overall improvement of energy efficiency by 60-75%, generates less heat and also has a great Colour Rendering Index (CRI).
Optimising the output of the HVAC systems also helps reduce energy bills. HVAC systems implement smart thermostats that are automated and responsible for controlled heating and/or air conditioning. Smart thermostats use the internet and enables users to access their heating/cooling remotely and program temperatures in homes and offices, based on their usage habits and schedule. Maintenance reminders can also be set. Other features that help consumers track and analyse their energy usage make smart thermostats a popular choice amongst builders and developers worldwide.
The convenient and easy to use smart thermostats also provide real-time information to the chiller system. The use of variable frequency drives (VFD) in air handling units and chill water pumps of any chiller system can reduce power consumption by 30%. Based on feedback received from a smart thermostat, a VFD can vary the frequency and voltage of power supply to drive the electric motor of the system.

Invest to make savings
Investment in environmentally-friendly techniques when fitting out a new building or retrofitting an old building may seem like a costly practice. However, companies that do invest will witness significant long term financial benefits, as reduction in energy costs will outweigh the initial investment and lead to permanent savings. A quick and easy way to learn how you can make an office more eco-friendly is by engaging energy auditors who will assess and advise on efficient tactics and technologies to reduce consumption as well as overall costs.
For decades, the abundance of easily accessible hydrocarbon resources meant that energy efficiency was not a pressing topic in the UAE. Today, sustainability is a critical issue. According to statistics, it is maintained that in the near future, energy conversion systems based on fossil fuels will reduce by 80% in favour of renewable energy, around the world. However, this is a slow progress compared to what is needed now to significantly reduce carbon emissions. The time is ripe for businesses to act responsibly and conserve energy to reduce expenses while also safeguarding resources for future generations.

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