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With the summer temperatures already upon us, many residents in the UAE have already switched on their air-conditioning (AC) up high, and preparing themselves for the higher seasonal costs of keeping their houses cool. The impact of an increase in electricity use can be felt not just on the finances but also on the environment.
The UAE’s gross domestic electricity consumption has more than doubled over the past 10 years, and it is expected to grow even more rapidly over the next five years as the country undergoes substantial population and economic growth, according to a 2015 study by management consultancy Strategy &, formerly Booz & Company. The UAE has already taken several initiatives to enhance its energy efficiency and move towards a sustainable future.
I LED The Way, a new sustainability campaign, was initiated last month to support the country’s move towards reducing its demand for power, while urging residents to switch to energy-efficient LED lighting to save on power bills as well as lower their carbon footprints. Simply by switching to energy-efficient lighting, UAE residents could save Dh459 million in utility bills, officials pointed out while launching the initiative. The campaign was supported by Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (Esma), Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB).
Niall Watson, Founder of the initiative, which ended on June 5, tells PW, “Around 57 per cent of the UAE’s ecological footprint is generated from the household energy consumption, of which 6 per cent is attributable to lighting. While 6 per cent doesn’t sound like a big figure, it’s surprisingly deceptive. If every UAE home replaced its traditional inefficient (incandescent) light bulbs with energy efficient light bulbs, the saving on CO2 emissions would be equivalent to taking 165,000 cars off UAE roads each year.” Watson has a number of programmes planned, including the Dubai Efficient Lighting Week in October, to promote energy conservation in the UAE. “Dubai Efficient Lighting Week will involve awareness raising and retail-orientated programmes to motivate the public to lighten their lighting footprints. Residents and citizens will be able to take advantage of price reductions on select high-efficiency light bubs. Residents will also be offered environmentally- friendly disposal solutions for their old light bulbs and daily rewards will be offered to participants,” he says.
Reduce your energy use
According to Watson, the simplest and most obvious way to cut down your energy bill is to use less light. “Turning them off when leaving a room and using natural daylight are two examples that come without any cost. AC is one of the biggest energy concerns in the UAE. Enhancing energy efficiency by reducing consumption is a key solution. Consumers can achieve this by manually reducing the length of time the AC is functioning and turning it down to 24 degrees, which is a widely accepted norm for energy saving. You can also set your AC unit on a timer - all of these are no cost solutions. Long-term investment strategies would be to retrofit air-handling units, making them automatically more efficient owing to their technology.”
With a tourism target of 20 million visitors by 2020, educating visitors and shortterm guests about their energy consumption during their stay is also a sound strategy. Watson believes this requires further work on behalf of the international governments and agencies to bolster the notion of global citizenship, while, at a local level, he suggests working with the tourism and hospitality industry to provide a framework, advocating responsible energy consumption within their properties. For example, hotels can let their guests know that they can opt out of daily housekeeping services to help conserve energy. “By opting out of housekeeping services, hotel guests can save enough water for a person to drink almost two cups per day for a year and enough energy to run a laptop for around 10 hours,” says Watson.
The role of property developers, while designing buildings, is also critical for enhancing energy efficiency of a city. A lot of work has already been done in this area to strengthen Dubai’s green credentials. For example, the green building regulation, launched by Dubai Municipality, ensures that developers of new buildings in the city adhere to certain guidelines for energy efficiency.
Watson explains: “This intervention by the local government puts the onus on the developer to consider the impact of a structure on the environment before commencing building works. The green building code is one part of the greater sustainable vision that the UAE has in order to become a greener economy. The code is the first of Dubai’s demand side management (DSM) strategy as outlined in the overall Dubai integrated energy strategy, which outlines eight areas of improvement to help the citymeet the 30 per cent energy consumption reduction target by 2030.”
He, however, adds that the developer is only one part of the mix, and, once the property is handed over, the responsibility is shifted to the residents to make sound environmental decisions. I LED The Way was a huge part of that educational process.
Source: Karen Osman, Special to PW