Energy Efficiency: The Impact Of Building Regulations And Energy Management Systems are elaborated in this article.
Dr Mutasim Nour, Director of MSc Energy and MSc Renewable Energy Engineering programmes at Heriot-Watt University Dubai expresses his views on the impact of building regulations and energy management systems on maximising energy efficiency
The picture above is for illustration and is of How energy efficient are buildings in Dubai? by Energy Live News
Currently, just over half the world’s population lives in cities, but that is expected to rise to 68% by 2050. As a consequence, world energy demand is set to increase by more than 50 percent by 2050, according to predictions by the US Energy Information Administration – resulting in even higher energy consumption.
Hence, rapid urbanisation and a rapidly growing population along with climate change are key challenges that cities and countries must urgently address.
Closer to home, energy efficiency is a rising challenge in the UAE, due to a growing population, rise in economic activity, and increased energy consumption at a pace that will be difficult to provide for over the long term.
In a growing economy, energy consumption will rise despite reductions in the energy intensity of developed economies.
Although more and more cities are boosting their commitment and progress to becoming net zero carbon, they still have a long way to go. With climate change worsening, more action is required on specific fronts. Everything from factories and homes to transport systems and consumer devices need to become more energy efficient.
One such solution lies in implementing Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS), i.e. automation systems that collect energy measurement data from the field and make it available to users through graphics, online monitoring tools, and energy quality analysers, thus enabling the management of energy resources.
The effectiveness of energy policies and regulations
Prior research indicates that buildings consume 80% of the overall energy demand in the UAE (UAE) and 40% across the globe. The UAE’s Federal Electricity & Water Authority (FEWA) estimates that around 60 to 70 percent of energy demand in the UAE currently stems from building HVAC requirements, with split air-conditioning units making up an estimated 60-70 percent of cooling systems in the market.
Therefore, the UAE as a whole, and Dubai in particular, have put in place different energy security and efficiency strategies such as UAE Vision 2021, Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030 (aims to reduce Dubai’s total energy consumption by 30% by 2030), and Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 (gradually increase the employment of clean energy sources to 75 per cent by 2050).
Additionally, Dubai has established the ‘Green Building Regulations and Specifications’ (GBRS) which aims to improve the performance of buildings in Dubai by reducing the consumption of energy, water and materials; improving public health, safety and general welfare; and by enhancing the planning, design, construction and operation of buildings.
Although not mandatory, GBRS acts more as a guideline for developers and contractors and offers recommendations for constructing energy efficient buildings in Dubai. It is intended to support Dubai’s Strategic Plan, create a more sustainable urban environment and extend the ability of the Emirate’s infrastructure to meet the needs of future development.
Maximising hedonic efficiency (extent to which the delivered service meets the demand) will offer a route to providing optimal service with reduced consumption. However, it is challenging to draft policy initiatives to maximise hedonic efficiency. This needs to be explored and considered by the professional and regulatory bodies.
In addition to a more persuasive regulatory framework, marketing and awareness campaigns that encourage building owners, occupants, developers, and other stakeholders to lessen their energy consumption can have a positive impact on energy conservation. DEWA’s ‘Smart Living’ initiative is one such example that allows consumers monitor their electricity (and water) consumption easily and make smarter decisions to reduce consumption.
Additionally, the adoption of innovative technologies such as EMS are needed for a more cohesive approach to achieving energy-efficiency.
BEMS to the rescue
BEMS enables real-time remote monitoring and integrated control of a broad spectrum of connected systems – allowing modes of operation, energy usage, environmental conditions and so on to be observed and allowing hours of operation, set points and more to be adapted in order to improve energy performance and occupancy comfort.
According to Mordor Intelligence, the Middle East and African market for energy management systems is projected to grow at a CAGR of 11.87% to reach USD 3.76 billion by 2021. This growth in demand comes from concerns over declining energy security, ambitious environmental goals, and the reduced cost of sensors, analytics software and data storage.
Currently, adoption levels across the GCC are lower due to a lack of codified regulation. Hence, a directive from the government to deploy energy management systems could play a critical role in helping country meet its sustainability targets.
There are two major aspects of constructing energy efficient buildings: using “green” design and building materials during the construction phase; and continuous monitoring and controlling energy consumption during the operation phase. While there has been enough emphasis on sustainable construction in some GCC states, there is very little attention on the installation of energy management systems. Focusing on energy management systems should be a key factor in the efforts towards creating a sustainable built environment in the region.
It is claimed that the magnitude of savings accomplished by BEMS can range from 10% to 25%. If used properly, BEMS should allow the optimisation of energy consumption without compromising on comfort or performance. But this requires an in-depth knowledge of how buildings are meant to perform, and how different systems within them communicate. In order to operate accurately, BEMS should be properly designed, installed and commissioned as well as have a user interface that is easy to use.
BEMS may have remote outposts that can be probed locally, or may be managed via mobile devices. However, some buildings could be susceptible to cyberattacks, especially when they are related to critical organisations. This can become an issue in the case of functions that run in the ‘cloud’, such as cloud-based analytics, and the ability to access and manage multiple sites remotely. The ability to retrieve live analytics, or receive alarm notifications from hand-held devices has enormous potential benefits, but may also bring additional risks.
BEMS taken into consideration right from the start of a new construction project can help owners and facility managers gain better control over energy use. Given the large push for sustainability, especially within the built environment, BEMS can therefore become crucial in Dubai and the UAE as more and more green projects come to fruition.
The current generation of smart cities aiming to make buildings greener and smarter should invest more in BEMS and other technologies. Moving forward, BEMS will play a vital role in contributing towards the sustainability goals of energy-smart cities, as sensor-equipped, energy consuming devices such as HVAC, lighting, and refrigeration, become more integrated with BEMS.