The art of designing energy efficiency

The art of designing energy efficiency

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Nareg Oughourlian, managing Director of Commercial at Alpin Limited, with a background in Mechanical Engineering.

Energy efficiency: Rome was not built in a day, or so the saying goes. In November 2021, the UAE pledged to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and, in doing so, became the first Gulf state to commit to a timeline to decarbonise its economy and fully reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.

Not that this happened out of the blue; the UAE has been heavily financing clean energy projects such as Masdar, Sustainable City, and the Barakah nuclear plant for over 15 years, inexorably pushing the sustainability envelope in the region and worldwide.

Internationally recognised guidelines require most companies to decarbonise 90-95% of CO2.

The country has always been known for its sky-high ambitions and impressive success rate, of that there is little doubt. However, the net-zero target marks a real turning point in the way things are done in the UAE and, more importantly, sets up a challenging and exciting target. It requires an exact drive for the future, challenged only by the limitations of sustainable development.

The previously held reliance on oil is changing, and the region is shifting towards alternative options. Shifting towards an ecological mindset remains at the core of any decisions that need to be made moving forward. The UAE is proudly leading the way in the region alongside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Following the pledge to reduce emissions at the 2015 Paris agreement, many countries fell through on the promise to achieve short-term goals, but structurally altering the policies of a nation takes time, and changes are slowly and surely being made across the globe. In the UAE, winning the bid to host the COP28 global climate talks in 2023 further cements the seriousness and gravity of the 2050 target and, amongst other things, the future of green buildings and the built environment in the region.

Energy efficiencies and net-zero goals

Net-zero emissions are essentially focused on maintaining a balance between the greenhouse gases created and the amount that are taken out. In addition to reducing carbon emissions, there is also reliance on carbon offsetting or carbon removal.

Internationally recognised guidelines require most companies to decarbonise 90-95% of all CO2 emissions through internal abatement options to reach net-zero. For the remaining 5-10% of emissions, qualifying neutralisation activities can be used. Those neutralisation activities are not referred to as offsets, but instead include only activities that directly pull carbon out of the atmosphere, which can be done through Direct Air Capture, bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, improved soil and forest management, and land restoration. This is a contrast to the term ‘zero carbon,’ which concentrates on reducing existing carbon emissions to zero.

It is a well-known fact that the construction industry is a leading cause of C02 emissions, with 39% of global CO2 emissions attributed to building and construction. This means that any small changes within the industry can enormously impact the environment and climate change.

So, how can buildings reduce their impact on the environment? The immediate answer to these questions lies within the innovation of Low and net-zero Energy and Carbon Strategies. A net-zero building produces as much energy as it consumes on an annual basis. This energy balance is propped up by maintaining energy efficiency by the effective design of building operations.

 

Factory-made homes cut carbon emissions by 45%

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Construction Enquirer estimates that Factory-made homes can cut carbon emissions by 45%.  It is by Aaron Morby.
Shouldn’t countries of the MENA region especially those where housing development is intense, get any inspiration from the idea of factory-made homes cutting carbon emissions by 45%?
Anyway here is:

Factory-made homes cut carbon emissions by 45%

Housing construction using volumetric modular systems can produce 41-45% less carbon dioxide emissions than traditional methods of building homes.

Substantial embodied carbon emissions savings were unearthed by academics from Cambridge University and Edinburgh Napier University in a study on a high-rise and a mid-rise modular scheme in London.

The buildings totalling 879 homes were delivered by Tide Construction using its modular system. University academics found that 28,000 tonnes of embodied carbon emissions were saved from construction – the equivalent of the CO2 absorbed by 1.3m trees in a year.

(l-r)44 and 38 storey George Street in Croydon, now known as Ten Degrees and The Valentine in Gants Hill, London Borough of Redbridge were measured

This is well ahead of industry targets and shows a switch to modular construction could radically reduce the carbon footprint associated with the UK government’s ambition to build 300,000, better quality homes.

Embodied carbon, the CO2 produced during the design, construction and decommissioning phases of a development, is slashed because buildings require lower volumes of carbon-intensive products such as concrete and steel.

The report, “Life Cycle Assessments of The Valentine, Gants Hill, UK and George Street, Croydon, UK” also shows emissions were lower because indirect carbon emissions from deliveries and on-site workers are reduced.

Dr Tim Forman, senior research associate at University of Cambridge, said: “Buildings are responsible for approximately 40% of global energy-related carbon emissions, and there is an urgent need to reduce the carbon intensity of construction and buildings in use.

“As buildings become more energy efficient in operation, reducing the carbon associated with construction — including the production and transportation of materials and site activities – and their end of life is becoming increasingly significant.

“This study underscores the fundamental importance of quantifying carbon in construction and across a building’s life cycle.”

Professor Francesco Pomponi of Napier University, said: “This study is a truly comprehensive and robust life cycle assessment of the modular solution.

“The analysis of two residential buildings was conducted in accordance with the latest carbon assessment guidelines, and analysis was based on conservative assumptions and a careful selection of data inputs.

“While further studies should be completed to deepen our understanding, the research makes a compelling case for the embodied carbon-saving benefits of modular construction.”

 

Expo 2023 Doha to help develop agricultural sector

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The above image is for illustration and is through Pinterest

Published by The Peninsula of Qatar, this article could not go without due notice by possibly the widest audience in the MENA region. So would an Expo 2023 Doha to help develop the agricultural sector pave the way towards a greener future. Or if one perhaps wonders, if yet again, another come to be interference in our good old planet’s distribution of geo-climatisation arrangements is envisioned.

Expo 2023 Doha to help develop agricultural sector

Sanaullah Ataullah

Doha: The International Horticultural Exhibition (‘Expo 2023 Doha’) will not only benefit just Qatar, but also help strengthen agricultural sector in the entire region.

The first-of-its-kind expo in GCC and MENA region is expecting large number of research works from 80 countries and their reputed universities and research institutions.

Expo 2023 Doha, spreading over 1.7 million sqm, will be held at Al Bidda Park between two Doha Metro stations from October 2, 2023 to March 28, 2024, under the theme ‘Green Desert Better Environment’.

Secretary General of the National Committee for hosting Expo 2023 Doha, Mohammed Ali Al Khouri, said that the main idea behind organising such a mega event is sharing experiences in developing agricultural sector and preserving environment.

Speaking on a Qatar TV programme yesterday, Al Khouri who is also Director of Public Parks Department at the Ministry of Municipality, said that the latest research in agricultural sector will be presented at the expo to help increase the agricultural land and develop it, especially in desert countries.

“The biggest section of the expo will be dedicated for agriculture sector. Usually this expo is held in countries with big agricultural land. This edition  will be the first time it will be organised in a desert land,” said Al Khouri.

“We can feel, from now, the great importance being given by participating countries and their universities and research organisations.” 

He said that the theme of expo is ‘Green Desert Better Environment’ as the talk of the time is environment, climate change and plantation, especially in desert countries which have limited resources of water and arable lands. 

“These challenges need intervention by agricultural experts and researchers to reduce the cost of production and water consumption. This is what we will try to achieve through the expo and even after the event the researches will continue. We expect fruitful results which will serve the entire region,” said Al Khouri.

He said that over 80 countries from all over the world are expected to participate in the expo showcasing and sharing their experiences which will be utilised by the desert and even agricultural countries in developing their farming methodologies.

On the other hand, he said, the expo will also focus on preserving the environment which has become a global issue seeking a reduction in carbon footprint.

“Qatar launched many initiatives to protect the environment such as Plant Million Tree initiative which is expected to be completed before FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022,” said Al Khouri. He said after that another initiative targeting to plant 10 million trees in the country will be launched. “These initiatives are being implemented mainly with the support of the government, however many companies and institutions from the private sector are participating in a big way,” said Al Khouri. 

Dispute grips Green Climate Fund over net zero

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Published on 8 October 2021 by Climate Home News is the story of how a Dispute grips Green Climate Fund over net zero condition for accessing finance by certain countries. Here is this story.

The above image is for illustration and is of Climate Home News.

Dispute grips Green Climate Fund over net zero condition for accessing finance

By Chloé Farand

Board members from developing countries insisted that making a 2050 net zero goal a condition for accreditation to the fund breaches equity principles

The UN’s flagship climate fund has been gripped by fierce debate over what decarbonisation conditions should be imposed to developing nation organisations seeking to access funding.

In the Fulani village of Hore Mondji, located in southern Mauritania on the banks of the Senegal River, a women’s cooperative uses solar energy to operate the borehole that supplies water to the market garden. A project piloted by UNICEF in partnership with local authorities. In a country heavily impacted by drought and welding periods, solar energy represents an inexhaustible source of energy for the production of fruits, vegetables and aromatic plants (such as okra, carrots, mint, peppers, eggplants or tomatoes) for local consumption as well as for sale in the markets of neighboring towns. The women of the cooperative thus have a regular income as well as a rich variety of fruits and vegetables that promote dietary diversification and the well-being of their children.

It was close to 4am on Friday in the Green Climate Fund’s South Korean headquarters when board members brought the four-day virtual meeting to a close.

Besides the usual delays and procedural wrangling, discussions became heated when board members were asked to consider whether to renew the GCF’s partnership with the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA).

At the heart of the issue was a disagreement between members from large emerging economies and richer nations over whether decarbonisation conditions should be imposed on organisations from developing nations seeking to access funding.

The GCF was created to help poor countries curb their emissions and cope with climate impacts. It depends on agencies like DBSA to deliver projects in poor nations.

Some board members from rich countries added as a condition for DBSA to be re-accredited that the bank adopts a 2050 net zero emission target across its portfolio, and an intermediate 2030 target, within one year of the accreditation being approved.

The bank, which currently has no fossil fuel exclusion policy, would have to demonstrate how it is shifting its loans and investments away from carbon-intensive activities.

But the move was strongly resisted by developing country members who accused developed nations of imposing a carbon-cutting pathway on poorer ones.

Wael Aboul-Magd, of Egypt, told the board the 2050 net zero goal was “a global aspiration, not a prescription to every country, and particularly not for developing countries”.

Turkey ratifies the Paris Agreement after approving a 2053 net zero goal

Board member Ayman Shasly, of Saudi Arabia, described the condition as “blackmail,” adding that the GCF was being “manipulated by [developed countries] pushing their own agenda onto the fund”.

Yan Ren, of China, agreed with Shasly that the condition did not respect the Paris Agreement’s equity principle of common but differentiated responsibilities that nations that became rich from burning fossil fuels should cut their emissions faster to allow poorer ones to develop.

“We should not impose conditions on developing countries to force them to achieve certain targets. There is no one size fits all on fossil fuels,” she said.

DBSA is a development finance institution wholly owned by the South African government with 60% of its financing directed to the rest of the African continent.

Oil Change International data shared with Climate Home News shows that between 2018 and 2020, DBSA supported gas projects with $270m in financing, compared with nearly $320m for wind and solar.

Some of the DBSA-backed projects included a gas power plant in Ghana and LNG production in Mozambique.

However, campaigners warned that poor transparency in reporting at DBSA meant the true figures could be higher.

Campaigners have directly called on the South African government to commit to stop funding fossil fuels through DBSA by ensuring the bank adopts a fossil fuel finance exclusion policy and increases financing for accelerating the clean energy transition.

UAE sets net zero by 2050 target, promises renewable investments

Members from rich nations pushed back against calls to re-accredit DBSA without any conditions and the issue was postponed to a future meeting.

Stéphane Cieniewski, of France, said the conditions were “not unreasonable or excessive” and aligned with the Paris accord.

Lars Roth, of Sweden, one of the board members who requested the net zero condition be applied to DBSA, told the meeting the bank was “already working on and intended to approve” a 2050 net zero goal across its portfolio and would be making a formal announcement in a couple of months.

Meanwhile, the fund agreed to re-accredit the UN Development Programme for another five years, amid ongoing corruption investigations into two of its projects in Albania and Samoa.

Overall, the board approved $1.2 billion for 13 new carbon-cutting and adaptation projects – a record amount for a single board meeting.

This included $125m for the GCF to become an anchor investor in the creation of a global fund to support and de-risk private investment designed to protect and restore coral reefs around the world.

The Global Fund for Coral Reef will support companies investing in sustainable fisheries and aquaculture practices, coral farming, plastic waste management and water treatment.

But it will also promote ecotourism and the development of “sustainably-managed hotel resorts” and tourists activities such as “surf, diving, snorkelling and cruises”.

UAE sets net zero by 2050 target, promises renewable investments

The proposal was submitted by Pegasus Capital Advisors, a Delaware-incorporated private equity firm. The fund is due to be rolled out in 17 countries and aims to protect 29,000 hectare of reef globally and create nearly 13,000 jobs.

Board members overwhelmingly backed the design of the project despite strong opposition from civil society members acting as observers at the fund.

“We are very concerned that instead of helping communities in reef ecosystems adapt from climate change impacts, this adaptation project will profit out of harming the reefs,” Erika Lennon, of the Center for Environmental Law, told the board.

Lennon described the absence of connection between funding surf, diving or snorkelling enterprises with safeguarding reef ecosystems as “woefully inadequate” and urged for investments in hotel resorts, cruises and shrimp farming to be explicitly excluded from the scope of the project.

She warned that reef-damaging practices promoted by the project risked damaging the GCF’s reputation.

WOHA designs a truly green pavilion for Expo Dubai 2020

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FLOORNATURE ARCHITECTURE & SURFACES News produced this article on how WOHA designs a truly green pavilion for Expo Dubai 2020. It somehow relates to the cities of Dubai and Singapore with some additional views on other Pavilions.

WOHA designs a truly green pavilion for Expo Dubai 2020

5 October 2021

Starring: WOHA Architects

Photographer: Quentin Sim, Singapore Pavilion Dubai Expo 2020,

Singapore-based architecture firm WOHA, known for its green architecture many years before forests on towers became fashionable, has designed Singapore’s pavilion for the World Expo 2020 in Dubai. The pavilion is a prototype that demonstrates how the built environment can coexist with nature.


Other photos…A year late, the Dubai Expo 2020 opened on 1 October 2021. Among the many architectural highlights is the Singapore pavilion commissioned by Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority from WOHA. In essence, it is a structure designed to welcome visitors to a sustainable oasis in the desert that integrates nature, innovation and architecture. In addition, the structure addresses Singapore’s vision of becoming a city in nature.
That is why the pavilion was designed as a prototype to demonstrate how the built environment can coexist with nature. It also reflects Singapore’s history. It is a city-state that manages to thrive in a difficult environment on a limited area, as the pavilion is also located on one of the smallest lots in the Expo. But this is certainly not to the detriment of either the design solutions adopted or its tremendous visual impact.
To maximise the usable area of the site, the architects of the WOHA studio, known for its distinct approach to biophilic design and integrated landscape planning, opted to stack multiple levels and functions on top of each other. Thus, visitors are treated to an experiential journey as they make their way along the canopied walkway that meanders through multiple levels of the pavilion, surrounded by verdant palms, trees, shrubs and orchids. The Hanging Garden and three thematic cones all wrapped in vertical greenery add to this immersive, three-dimensional biophilic experience. Next comes the Open Sky Market on the upper level, crowned by a canopy of solar panels that shelters the pavilion from the elements and generates electricity, making the Singapore pavilion a net-zero energy consumer. To reduce the use of energy and other resources, passive strategies such as natural cross-ventilation, shading and planting were implemented to create a comfortable climate for visitors and plants. A solar reverse-osmosis desalination system will meet all of its water needs.
The Singapore Pavilion also houses more than 170 varieties of plants that will grow during the Expo period. As well as providing a wonderful immersive experience, the plants provide measurable ecosystem services such as reducing solar heat, sequestrating greenhouse gases, reducing other pollutants such as PM10 particles, producing oxygen, reclaiming rainwater and providing habitats for animals.
By means of exhibitions and experiences, the Singapore pavilion investigates how we can build resilient, self-sufficient, biophilic, attractive yet highly functional structures that coexist with nature. These are flexible solutions in that these design strategies can be adapted to different climates and geographies, and even be scaled up to district or even city level.
As the architects of WOHA say: “Our climate crisis shows us that the impact of human actions on the planet cannot be ignored, and that urgent action needs to be taken. This reinforces the aspirations of the SG Pavilion: to design a different future and to create a sustainable, resilient environment in which humans coexist with nature.”

Christiane Bürklein

Project: WOHA
Location: Dubai
Year: 2021
Images: Quentin Sim. Singapore Pavilion Dubai Expo 2020

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