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Energy Conservation in Government Buildings (In UAE)

2.1    Introduction

This chapter provides an extensive literature review and a theoretical ground to energy conservation in Government buildings in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Energy conservation in public buildings has received tremendous attention in the recent past due to increased power consumption and wastage of resources. This chapter comprehensively discusses the significant of adopting various energy conservation strategies and why it is required. The paper will use various studies to examine the causes of high power consumption, provide the various solutions available to solve the problem as well as the way out to ensure energy conservation in government buildings in the UAE. The solutions for the problem will entail identifying different energy efficiency strategies and investments that include upgrades to lighting, adopting lighting control systems, the installation of building automation, upgrades to heating and ventilation and air-condition systems, as well as cogeneration and solar photovoltaic systems.

2.2     Why Energy Conservation is needed

The Energy Conservation program in Government buildings in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is required so as to minimize the cost spends by Government agencies on energy as well as avoids wastage of energy on Government buildings. The conservation will enable the various public institutions to reduce the cost of offering government services as well as enable them to redirect the saved resources and funding to the provision of front-line services. In the 1980s, the Chinese Central Government formulated and implemented standards and regulations about building energy efficiency with the aim of curbing the rapidly growing energy consumption. The energy conservation will also assist in improving the lighting efficiency through three primary phases namely identification of required light quantity and quality to perform the visual task, increasing light source efficiency when occupancy is frequent, and optimizing lighting controls when occupancy is infrequent. Due to the rapidly increasing gross domestic electricity consumption in the UAE, it is important that energy is conserved where possible. Studies have shown that the annual average growth of energy usage in UAE is 4 percent over the past six years, and this proportion is predicted to increase to 5 percent annual growth through 2020 (Karlsson, Decker & Moussalli, 2015). Energy conservation in all areas including government buildings is thus crucial so as to increase energy sustainability and minimize energy costs.

2.3    Energy Consumption in Public Building

Government agencies and institutions occupy a large proportion of building stock and often their annual water and energy costs are substantive. Research has have shown that the built environment contributes to half the total energy consumption as well as greenhouse emissions in the developed nations and approximately a fifth of the world’s total energy consumption. The energy consumption in these public buildings that get approximated to be above 20 000 m2 is attributed to the energy usage in lighting, air conditioning system, elevator, office electric equipment, etc. It is estimated that government agencies spend over 10 billion dollars every year on the energy required to provide services and meet constituent needs. As these local governments struggle with tightening budgets, approximately one-third of the funds used for energy to run typical government buildings go to waste. Liu, Wu & Hu, (2012) conducted a study about power consumption in typical public buildings. The sample of the investigation involved 28 governmental office buildings, 15 emporiums and five hotels in which the study design involved collecting basic building information, measuring the energy consumption and carrying out an energy audit. The study determined that the average total costs of electricity, water, and gas in the sample government buildings was 47.25 RMB/m2, with the highest cost been 103 RMB/m2 and the lowest cost been 8.77 RMB/m2. The percentage cost of electricity, water and gas costs in government buildings in the total energy cost was 82 percent, 9 percent, and 9 percent respectively. This study concludes that electricity consumption that includes both lighting and air conditioning is the main area that utilizes most of the energy (Liu, Wu & Hu, 2012).

Various factors contribute to the increased growth in utilization of energy in public buildings as well as to the extremely wastage of energy resources. First, in government departments, the majority of the executives and employees lack energy conservation awareness and also are not motivated to save energy used since it does not relate to their salaries and rewards. It is, therefore, essential for the national government to strengthen the policy of building energy saving as well as for local governments to execute the energy efficiency appraisal regulation. Second, the lack of professional staff dealing with energy efficiency management in public buildings contributes significantly to energy resource wasting. Third, the installation of many energy systems that includes firefighting system, lighting system, hot and cold water supply system, heating and air conditioning system result in high energy consumption in public buildings. Fourth, the case of China that started promoting building energy efficiency but developed slowly due to an imperfect national policy (Zhu & Li, 2015). The policy had legal laws and regulations that did not support public building energy saving aspect and also lacked necessary energy saving measures.

2.4    The Strategies of Energy Conservation

Various short-term and long-term energy conservation measures have been implemented in government agencies and institutions so as curb energy wastage as well as reduce the cost of energy consumption in these buildings. Today, most Governments mandate the construction of energy efficient buildings as well as require the introduction of renewable energy into electricity grids and also the market for liquid fuels. Some national governments and twenty-four US states are among that have binding renewable portfolio standards requiring the addition of a specified amount of renewable electricity to the national and state grids. The Spain authorities have recently updated the building codes making it a requirement to incorporate solar water heaters in all new buildings. Similarly, in April 2008, the state government of Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany, made it a requirement that 20 percent of all new building’s heating requirements be achieved through the use of energy from renewable technologies (Haas & Hird, 2012). The government can also fix standards for environmental measures such as vacuum insulation, advanced energy management system inclusion, light-emitting diode installation and energy production through rooftop panels so as to conserve energy consumption. It is the role of the federal and state governments to promote a culture of energy conservation through helping government agencies, schools and industrial employers to adopt low energy use. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers local governments a proven energy management strategy and tools to assist them to save energy and money as well as demonstrate their environmental leadership. Various lost-cost measures and cost-effective investments can assist national and state governments to save on energy.

The low-cost measures include:

  1. Turning off the lighting when not in use as well as maximizing natural daylight use.
  2. Measuring and monitoring energy performance
  3. Setting back the thermostat at the end of working hours and when the building is unoccupied.
  4. Educating and creating awareness among staff and executives on proper energy use practices
  5. Undertaking routine maintenance of heating and cooling equipment so as to guarantee efficient operation throughout the year.

The cost-effective investments include

  1. Installing energy-efficient lighting systems and controls that aim at improving the light quality and minimize heat gain
  2. Making use of performance contracts so as to ensure energy savings from upgrades made.
  3. Collaborating with energy service providers so as to assist in managing and enhancing energy performance
  4. Upgrading and maintaining heating and cooling equipment such as replacing chlorofluorocarbon chillers or retrofitting or installing energy-efficient models that meet the buildings reduced cooling.
  5. Purchasing energy efficient products that include ENERGY STAR qualified office equipment (United States. Environmental Protection Agency, 2007)
  6. Installing windows films and adding insulation or reflective roof coating so as to minimize energy consumption.

The UAE will implement both short-term and long-term plans that aim at minimizing the energy consumption in government buildings as well as saving resources.

2.4.1    Short Term Plan (reducing the energy consumption strategy)

The formulation of short-term plan aims at understanding the measures that can be implemented so as to minimize the energy consumption strategy. The short term solutions that can assist UAE in minimizing energy consumption and enhancing energy efficiency are lighting control system strategy, HVAC control strategy, water consumption control, and Building Management System strategy.    Lighting control system strategy

Lighting controls in building provide the ability of systems to be turned ON and OFF either automatically of manually. The primary goal of adopting a lighting control system is to minimize the energy consumption that can be attained by eliminating all the unnecessary use of electric lighting when the room is unoccupied or during the day when the sunlight is sufficient for the visual comfort of the space users. The centralized lighting control systems integrated into building management systems also plays a major role in increasing the building’s functionality. A properly controlled lighting control system can minimize energy usage up to 60 percent over a simple on-off lighting system installation. Various strategies have shown the capability to control lighting. They include manual switching/dimming, daylight harvesting, time-based switching, constant luminance, scene setting, presence detection and visual appearance enhancement. The control of lighting should always have the ability to create the appropriate lighting conditions at the right time, for the right objective. The most recurrent control strategies of controlling lighting are 1) time switching, 2) daylight harvesting, 3) occupancy control, and 4) combination of the previous (Sansoni, Mercatelli & Farini, 2014). These strategies get described in the section below.

a.1 Time Switching

Time switching describes the technique that entails the turning of luminaires on and off automatically at scheduled times so as to avoid useless lighting out of working hours. Time switching is the simplest and widely used solution in public and commercial buildings. The system is capable for buildings with fixed occupancy as it is set to switch lights on shortly before work starts and to switch the entire lighting off after working hours. However, the system is configured in a manner that enough lights are left on for security and safety at night and also cater for people working late. Typical switch off times for the lighting system is during the lunch hour, shortly after the end of the working data as well as after the cleaning period.

a.2 Daylight Harvesting

Daylight harvesting is the control technique that entails the automatic adjusting of luminaires light flux (dimming) so as to maintain a predetermined illuminance in the room by considering the contribution of daylight. Daylight control system ensures that sufficient lighting condition is available throughout the working hours and also saves energy through reducing the lighting power as a function of day lighting supply. The technique works properly for all light interior space that receives high daylight and is used all day. Daylight harvesting technique uses photo-sensors and electronic dimming ballasts that are strategically placed in the rooms. The photo-sensors and dimming ballasts create a lighting control system that controls the light level according to the intensity of daylight available. When there is sufficient sunlight in the space, the fluorescent lighting gets dimmed so as to maintain a band of light level. The output gets changed gradually by a fade control so as to prevent disturbance of the space users when rapid changes in light level occur.

a.3 Occupancy control

Occupancy detection or presence sensors get designed so as to turn luminaires on and off when the presence and absence of people are detected in space. The interval of switching on and off is decided appropriately (say 10 to 30 minutes) so as to prevent shortening of lamp life. The technique automatically prevents any energy wastage if the space occupants leave the space forgetting to turn off the lights. A lighting control may be set based only on presence detection and will be effective in rooms that users are often absent as well as in public or commercial buildings where occupants are little motivated to care about light usage. Passive infrared gets used as the most common detectors since they detect movement of a warm body across their field of view. The range of operation of a Passive infrared is up to approximately 10 m. For larger spaces, a microwave detector may be employed as its operation range may be up to 50 m. Acoustic sensors are used as detectors of noise in space. Presence detectors get used together with a photocell so as to prevent the operation of the lighting when there is adequate ambient light.

a.4 Combination of the previous.

Manual and automatic lighting controls get used so as to provide users of space the possibility of overriding automatic control when their requirements have not been met. Time switching and manual controls are combined for use in offices that have low daylight availability, and the general lighting gets provided utilizing High-Pressure Metal Halide lamps that cannot get switched on and off instantaneously and cannot be dimmed. The combination of daylight harvesting, occupancy control, and manual control is effective for use in private offices in government buildings that include administrative offices. This technique allows for the automatic dimming of lights based on the daylight harvesting control system that uses the high daylight availability and at the same time adopts the lighting control system by space occupancy since these offices have a medium absence probability. The figure 1 below describes the control logics corresponding to the energy conservation technique of combining both daylight harvesting and occupation detection systems. The lighting will automatically go on and off when a user enters or leaves a space due to the installed occupation sensor and also the due to the daylight harvesting system the lighting will also dim up or down to integrate daylighting so as accomplish the needed lighting conditions for visual comfort.


Figure 1: Flow chart of the lighting control logic based on both daylight harvesting and occupancy detection systems    Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Control Strategy

The integration of an HVAC control strategy in government buildings in the UAE will conserve energy by maintaining and controlling the temperature and humidity levels in the buildings. The system is widely used so as to provide an adequate indoor environment for people activity or for processing goods. Today, buildings in the US consume approximately 70 percent of the energy used, and HVAC systems consume a large amount of the energy. The UAE is mostly a scorching nation and the majority of the government buildings get located in the hottest cities that include Abu Dhabi. Due to the extreme weather conditions, heating and cooling of buildings consume a large amount of the energy in the buildings. The application of the HVAC control strategy in UAE will aim at maintaining occupants’ thermal comfort in the office space as well as ensuring energy efficiency of air-conditioned buildings. Thermal comfort of a person is a vague and subjective concept and varies from an individual to another.

In 2010, the European Commission, within the Seventh Framework Program founded a project known as “Smart Energy Efficient MiddleWare for Public Spaces” (SEEMPubs). The SEEMPubs project aims at offering functions and tools that add energy efficiency features to the Building Management System (BMS) through monitoring environmental and energy data in real time as well as for controlling the operation of active systems such as HVAC services. The project uses ICT monitoring and control services as well as takes advantage of natural resources such as solar technology and lighting so as to ensure the best possible comfort conditions for space users together with the most efficient energy use. Aghemo, et. al. (2013) proposed a heating control strategy based on communication between all sub-systems that is heating and cooling, lighting and other electricity uses. The heating control strategy supposes that all spaces possess their panel of circuit breaker that is a circuit breaker for heating in the case of fan coils it is on the ventilator that we act, another circuit breaker for lighting and another breaker for electricity plugs. The strategy also proposes that a minimum indoor temperature gets defined that the heating has to restart. This project could also be applied in UAE effectively and also allow taking advantage of the plenty of solar technology.    Water Consumption Control

Water consumption in the UAE is estimated to be highest among all nations in the world. In 2010, the nation’s per capita water consumption rate was about 500 liters per day that are 82 percent above the global average per capita water consumption rate (The Report: Ras Al Kaimah 2012). In Abu Dhabi, the annual water consumption exceeds the local water supply by almost 26 times. The city has therefore shifted to groundwater resources, which will, however, get depleted by 2050 at the current consumption rate. Government buildings contribute to this water consumption through uses such as cleaning of office space, restrooms, HVAC systems, and landscaping. Water wastage that includes running taps that are not used and leakages also contributes to the water use in public buildings. It is, therefore, necessary that the nation formulates and implements strategies to conserve water and enhance the sustainability of the available resources. The government has undertaken various water management initiatives to save water and water resources. They include well drilling and aquifer testing, the construction of new desalination and wastewater treatment plants, the construction of delay and recharge dams, and exploration as well as restoration of traditional falaj systems. In the city of Abu Dhabi, the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority started a campaign in 2004 known as “Rethink Your Lifestyle –Save Water and Energy” with the aim of creating awareness among the general public and government employees on the significance of water and energy conservation.

The UAE cities also use the process of waste-to-energy so as to increase energy production and supplement that in the national grid. The process entails generating electricity from controlled combustion of municipal solid wastes. The UAE cities also integrate water management. In Abu Dhabi in particular, a solar-powered desalination plant has been constructed so as to provide the city with water supply. The city aimed at recycling 80 percent of its wastewater and reusing it for irrigation and other domestic uses.

Various other measures will be implemented in government buildings in addition to the current efforts so as to increase water efficiency and conservation. They include using leak detection systems, purchasing and using appliances with high water efficiency rating, grey water recycling, encouraging behavioral changes among employees and executives in government agencies and also adopting water smart landscaping strategies. This water consumption control measures in UAE can aid in water conservation and efficiency.    Building Management System strategy

The lack of an efficient Building Management System (BMS) or Building automation contributes to high energy consumption among existing public buildings (Pellegrino, et. al. 2016). BMS allows for an optimal operation of various systems in a building. Retrofitting of building stocks can significantly aid in achieving major energy savings potentials. It can be achieved through the upgrading of system technologies such as replacing the traditional lighting plants with new high efficient LED lights. It can also be achieved by implementation and use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) for purposes of building management and monitoring. The adoption of building energy management system (BEMS) in high-rise office buildings can assist in monitoring energy consumption of the building. This strategy will be effective in short term energy reduction and also assist in refining the existing power control strategies or determining new solutions.

2.4.2    Long Term Plan (zero energy consumption strategy)

The primary goal of formulating the long-term plan is to understand the energy transition pathway to a 100 percent renewable energy power system for the United Arab Emirates, especially for government and public buildings. This zero energy consumption strategy will ensure that public buildings and government agencies depend totally on clean energy sources for all their electricity needs. The use of alternative sources of energy that include solar, wind, geothermal and biomass has become favorable over the past decade. Research and development have also been enhanced on these clean energy sources by many nations and organization. The increased attention and shift to renewable technologies is because they are environmentally friendly as well as due to increased problems associated with conventional energy sources. The burning of fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and gas significantly contributes to greenhouse gasses that have adverse consequences on the climate. Renewable energy technologies, especially solar energy, can assist UAE in meeting the reliability and affordability energy development. In spite of the nation’s wealth of renewable energy such as solar energy, tremendous efforts shall get implemented.    Solar Energy

In the recent past, solar photovoltaic technology has become a major mainstream of energy and also its use has been employed all around the world due to solar radiation availability in all regions in the world. The amount of solar radiation reaching the Earth (approximated to be between 4 to 7 kWh/m2/day) is about 10, 000 times the current energy consumption by man. This natural resource is larger compared to all the other alternative energy sources in the world. It is estimated that the solar energy received in one hour on the earth surface is enough to meet the total power requirements of the world for over a year. This factor makes the conversion of solar radiation into electricity using PV cells one of the most attractive solutions to energy problems facing the world today. Therefore, the adoption of solar photovoltaic technology in government buildings in the UAE would assist in enhancing energy use through supplementing the electricity supplied by the national grid. The electricity generated by the solar PV cells can be used for purposes such as lighting, heating/cooling, and other purposes in the government buildings. The use of solar energy is appropriate due to its abundance as well as it is environmentally friendly.

Solar photovoltaic cells are used for the conversion of sunlight into electricity directly without involving other intermediate conversion phases. The solar energy emitted by the sun is input to the solar cells in the form of solar radiation, and the output is energy emitted in the form of electricity. The crystalline silicon PV cells are the most common solar cells since they have the highest energy conversion efficiency of 25 percent. Silicon is also widely since it is abundant and a safe resource.

Today, the UAE is playing a pivotal role in enhancing the world’s effort to adopt large-scale renewable source of energy projects. According to Driouchi (2014) solar technology and geothermal projects is either in the construction or planning phase so as to generate power for UAE and form part of Abu Dhabi’s plan to make 7 percent of electricity generation from renewable by 2020. These efforts get attributed to UAE’s political stability and autonomy. Dubai that is the most populous city in UAE has implemented the green building code so as to enhance energy efficiency in buildings. Abu Dhabi, one of the most populous cities in the UAE was designed in an ecological and resource-efficient manner. The designs combine green design techniques so as to minimize energy consumption and environmental impact, as well as aim at reducing the running costs of buildings, create more pleasant spaces and also improve occupants’ health. One of the renewable technologies used in the city and has been integrated into building structures is solar technology that aims at providing 50 percent of all the electricity needed. The adoption of solar energy in the UAE, especially in government buildings is considered a long-term plan since despite its high initial cost of installation, the project has little or no maintenance cost and can meet a large portion of the energy needs for the government agencies. Consequently, it will minimize the cost of power for the government institutions substantially.




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Sherry Roberts is the author of this paper. A senior editor at MeldaResearch.Com in college research paper services if you need a similar paper you can place your order for best essay services online.


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