Dubai's focus on green integration

Dubai's focus on green integrationImage Credit: Archives,

While the UAE's burgeoning skyline has put facilities management (FM) into perspective, the solutions that will be effective yet competitive are yet to be formalised.

FM Expo, which ends today, has displayed tonnes of clean technologies, which could provide sustainable real estate management solutions. The Middle East Waste and Recycling Expo and Commercial Cleaning and Hygiene Expo have been running alongside.

It's a lot to take in, but worth the effort for all players involved.

Jamal Abdullah Lootah, CEO of FM solutions provider Imdaad. says, ''As a leading FM company in the GCC, it is our responsibility to support events that aim to promote the sector in the region and create awareness about its benefits.

''These events provide us with an opportunity to network with other companies to showcase our products and services and get insight about new developments, advanced technologies and prevailing trends.''

Green technologies

Companies from near and afar are displaying innovative tried-and-tested products from hi-tech systems to green cleaning solutions. Imdaad is one such organisation, which employs sustainable practices and eco-friendly equipment across its operations.

''The FM industry plays an important role in promoting sustainability and energy conservation. It influences other sectors to embrace sustainable technologies and practices such as the use of efficient and cost-effective sources of energy,'' he says.

Imdaad is one of the Middle East Facility Management Association's founding members, which is currently in the process of developing a five star rating system for FM companies.

Lootah says the need to contribute to the global movement to save the environment is one all real estate companies should keep in mind. Dubai Municipality recently announced plans to make the emirate one of the world's top ten sustainable cities by 2020. Dubai's green building codes also went live this year.

The World FM Congress encourages ideas to integrate sustainable FM with green solutions, preferably at the design stage. And the innovation seminar zone at the FM Expo has been building on this concept. For instance, it has been tackling the issue of how to retrofit buildings in eco-friendly colours.

Sandrine Le Biavant, Director Consultancy at Famek, the FM Expo Sustainability Partner, points out that although more companies were embracing green concepts and CSR strategies, a lot of work remains to be done.

''It is our responsibility not only to raise further awareness but to also make solutions as access1ole as possible. With eight years of regional market experience, we have seen, for instance, far too few companies include sustainability in their tenders. They expect this to be a complimentary service without considering the level of professionalism and expertise required to put a sustainable strategy in place,'' she says.

''We would like to see more FM tenders include a structured energy management section, allowing us to demonstrate its cost-efficiency.''

It's clear that the sector needs to grow smarter to survive the competitive market and grasp the concept that going green saves the environment, money and mass perception.

''Energy management has been universally recognized as a necessity. Independent organisations around the world have produced numerous case studies and there is little doubt about the positive 6.nancia1 returns of employing energy-efficient solutions. Building owners will not only save money but also enhance the value of their assets in the short and long term,'' says Le Biavant.

Visitors can listen to examples that provide weight to this theory by attending a seminar by Grant Ruddiman, Complex General Manager of Jumeirah Emirates Towers (Jet), at the FM Expo today.

''Ruddiman will highlight the rationale behind the sustainable direction Jet has taken and how that has impacted the environment, their business and their brand reputation,''
says Le Biavant. She looks forward to coming across ideas to save energy and water and how to manage waste.

FM companies and developers have to keep up with ever-changing technologies. ''Technology is the key to a more sustainable future. We have been showcasing the latest solutions, from environment-friendly cleaning chemicals that need minimal water to sophisticated software, which can monitor the performances of hotels, residences and commercial buildings in terms of water, waste and energy,'' says Le Biavant.

Focus on waste

Taking centre stage this year is waste management to which technology is the answer. Plenty of options are on display at the Middle East Waste and Recycling Expo, while its conference tackle regulations, public education and recycling incentives.

Experts will discuss how to turn waste into an energy source today, including a presentation on the Al Qusais landfill site. It now provides power to buildings and reduces carbon dioxide emissions and smell by covering organic waste with a clay-like product - a far cry from its origins as a waste dump.

''The Al Qusais landfill gas project, which falls under Dubai Municipality's waste management department in association with Green Energy Solutions and Sustainability, has led to the conversion of the 29-year-old site into an energy-producing facility,'' says Johnson Alexander, Director of Human Resources and Quality, Health, Safety and Environment at Dulsco, an award-winning waste management company.

''This has been a milestone of sorts in waste management and corporations should take a leaf out of this book to achieve better eco-friendly results.''

Dubai Municipality has bigger plans in mind, including achieving zero landfill by 2030. With the majority of waste currently ending up underground, the corporation is looking at alternative waste disposal techniques and technology. The challenges it faces are being discussed at the expo seminars.

''The authorities in Dubai are doing a lot in terms of improving waste management and recycling. An ever increasing population and shrinking resources are the main issues plaguing waste management in Dubai. With rising numbers of landfills posing a severe threat to the environment, adequate steps needs to be taken to control the situation,'' says Alexander.

''Waste management issues can be solved with innovative technologies and fruitful campaigns. Dulsco is exploring the option of bringing in technologies from world leaders to help the city and the nation in its green vision.''

Alexander calls upon private businesses to do their bit by adhering to the motto, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. He believes corporations and individuals need to make a conscious effort to support waste management by collecting and recycling waste. Alexander also points out that people need to be made aware of the piling up of landfills. ''The objective is achievable if we educate and gather more likeminded people.''

Of course, Alexander believes that awareness levels have definitely increased. ''Dulsco has partnered with Dubai Municipality to encourage residents to recycle at their homes and we have seen an encouraging response.''

Meanwhile, developers should find out how to integrate waste management into the design stage of new buildings and communities, which be discussed at seminars and conferences at the Expo.

Jeroen Vincent, Chief Operating Officer - GCC at averda, the region's largest waste management company, says raw material supplies are dwindling quickly as urban centres continue to experience dramatic population increase. In this regard, averda calls on cities to reduce their waste streams drastically and rethink waste.

''This will require a major shift away from our linear model of waste management, and companies will need to take waste management into consideration at the beginning of planning new projects,'' says Vincent.

''As the UAE construction industry continues its revival, the FM sector has been experiencing increased growth in the past few years due to the growing number of projects that have been delivered. Since waste management is a key component, this has led to an increased demand for waste management processes and services in the region.''

Vincent believes issues such as legislation need to be discussed to facilitate the growth of this segment. ''Different governments across the region are amending and reimplementing waste legislation, with some markets advancing more quickly than others.

''We expect a more organized approach to sustainable waste management in the future, and are looking forward to contributing to this process,'' he says.

''As a company, our role is to not only provide services for waste collection and transportation, but also provide services that allow any facility to pump reusable waste back into the manufacturing cycle. In some cases, this may generate supplementary revenue as well.''

Imdaad revealed that less than a fifth of waste it collected in communities in 2012 was recyclable. The company also conducts recycling training for its clients, corporate partners and staff.

Lootah says the company emphasises the importance of waste management technology as it is a highly relevant for integrating green solutions with waste disposal.

Safety concerns

Security and safety is another important aspect of FM. In this, the safe use of mobile towers and mobile elevating work platforms are in focus.

Matt Cox, Chairman of the International Institute of Risk and Safety Management (DRSM) Middle East, says, 'The recent history of tower scaffold use in the region has identified key deficiencies, such as suspect training and competence levels of workers permitted to erect and use them.'' These deficiencies were evidenced in the construction and industrial sectors.

The issues are of greater relevance in the FM sector, says Cox. ''The aims of seminars at the Expo have been raising awareness of scaffold tower safety principles and identifying the need for specifically tailored training.

''With the leading trade association for the mobile access tower industry, Pasma, now actively engaged in the region, a significant reduction in tower related accidents, is now definitely a real possibility.''

Source: Nicole Walter, Special to Property Weekly


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