by Madhav Dhar, Co-founder and COO, ZāZEN Properties
With the growing impact of global warming and climate change impossible to ignore, we need to see a seismic shift in the implementation of sustainable strategies across industries. For example, the real estate sector in most major cities contributes 40% of its annual CO2 emissions. Experts, therefore, need to focus on developing sustainable, cost-friendly solutions in the development, operations and management of assets within this sector.
Whether you are a consumer or a business looking to live more sustainably, the first step is choosing the type of property you buy or rent, whether as a residence or an office. Even though Dubai has a plethora of housing options, from ultra-luxury to affordable, the majority of residences still do not cater to living sustainably. From the materials used in the facilities down to energy, waste and water management, it is not easy to find green buildings or communities. In fact, there is a need for more education to raise awareness of the benefits of implementing sustainable practices in new developments and operational buildings.
For eco-conscious consumers, the easiest step towards living sustainably is through a certified green building. Such developments help you reduce your carbon footprint by incorporating the methodology, materials and technology used to help make substantial reductions in energy consumption and CO2 emissions, right at the design stage. The integration of such eco-friendly concepts into building development and operations, will not only help save costs for both consumers and developers but will also support environmental sustainability and help foster a greater sense of community.
For consumers, it is important to be aware that a building using solar panels to supplement energy usage, will have a lower annual electricity bill, leading to lower operation costs and lower annual service charges for the end-user. Similarly, developers who build to rent also benefit, as the solar panels usually pay for themselves within five to six years of operations, after which it reduces the overall cost of operations for the long term.
The easiest step to ensure you are buying or renting in a sustainable building is to check if it is LEED Green Building Certified (or equivalent). The certification focuses on key components that foster a sustainable lifestyle and help end-users reduce their carbon footprint.
An embodiment of a homegrown sustainable development is ZāZEN One, the first development by ZāZEN Properties. A Trakhees LEED Green certified residential building, in Jumeirah Village Triangle, is estimated to save 440 metric tonnes in CO2 emissions annually. This is achieved by planning and managing three key components in sustainable design.
A Trakhees LEED Green certified residential building, in Jumeirah Village Triangle, is estimated to save 440 metric tonnes in CO2 emissions annually
A major factor contributing to the carbon footprint of a home is the amount of energy expended to supply, treat and use its water. Water-oriented strategies significantly reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. Through low-flow water fixtures, water-efficient landscaping and drip irrigation systems, a development can reduce its water consumption in dramatic quantities. For example, ZāZEN One will achieve an approximate 33% annual reduction in water usage.
The seven components of the Green Building concept influence and support one another. Responsible waste management is one of the keys to creating an energy-efficient environment. A Construction Waste Management Plan should be developed and incorporated into the tender requirements itself for the contractors to follow, to help efficiently manage the waste-to-landfill output. The building should also incorporate operational waste management strategies such as the installation of Waste Bins on each floor to segregate waste such as paper, small cardboard, metal cans, plastic, glass etc.
This creates a win-win situation, allowing for savings of up to AED 500,000 on the building’s annual electricity bill
Everything down to the exterior walls, roof and glazing can be designed to be as efficient as possible, allowing for less heat transfer and therefore requiring less energy for cooling throughout the year. Similarly, efficient HVAC systems and thermostat controls should be considered in the design process. Even simple operational decisions such as using an efficient, low-wattage lighting system and having the exterior and common area lights on motion sensors or timer switches, have a massive impact on the building’s monthly electricity bill.
The carbon footprint of a building can also be reduced by sourcing operational energy through solar panels that have been aesthetically integrated within the development. Depending on the size of the development and the number of solar panels used, developers can aim to generate between 100,000 to 500,000 kWh of power annually, amounting to between 10% to 50% of the estimated energy of a mid to large size building would likely consume over the same period. This creates a win-win situation, allowing for savings of up to AED 500,000 on the building’s annual electricity bill, thereby reducing the annual service charge for any buyers.
Implementing sustainable practices from the get-go will play a big role in an organization’s environmental, social and economic impact. At ZāZEN Properties, we are committed to this cause and aim to add value to the city’s landscape through our design, quality, community and sustainable mindset.