Dispelling the Myth

October 01, 2018

By Gavin Gibbon

The Sustainable City lives up to its name

It’s easy for Phil Duncan to wax lyrical about The Sustainable City in Dubai. As design and planning manager, LEED AP at the sprawling new metropolis it’s his job to convince a somewhat sceptical audience that the emirate, famed for biggest is best, can also operate in harmony with the environment.

undefinedBut Duncan, who has been an integral part of the project since 2012, is talking the talk while walking the walk - he’s also a resident of the 46 hectare city.

He said: “When people think of Dubai and sustainability there’s a lot of cynicism. Dubai is known for its excess and the idea of a Sustainable City is something of an oxymoron. It’s been really great to see this idea come to fruition and be so well received in the community, by the government, education institutes and other developers.”

Even at the very beginning it was agreed that precast concrete would be used in the construction of the project to ensure reduced waste. Further innovative energy saving solutions at the Dubailand development helped to avoid 6,554 tones of carbon emissions in 2017 - the equivalent of 670 SUVs taken off the road for a year.

According to figures from its Greenhouse Gas (GHG) inventory, The Sustainable City was successful in achieving a lower footprint through efficient design, rooftop solar, solar-charged electric buggies, organic waste composting and other low carbon initiatives. The per capita grid electricity and water consumption is 42% and 30% less than the Dubai average respectively.

Moving forward, further steps to reduce emissions are in the pipeline through the addition of 3.6 MW of solar PVs. The city is also using exclusively B100 Biodiesel to power construction at the second phase of the community, which has radically minimised harmful emissions.

Currently sitting at 95% occupancy, the city is also home to 11 biome greenhouses, known as ‘The Farm’, which produce one million pots of herbs and vegetables a year - with 20% given to residents free of charge and the rest sold to local supermarkets and grocery stores.

Duncan said: “It is not a case of us just building the city and walking away, we are constantly monitoring the very latest technologies and identifying what is working and what needs improvement.” 

Tilal Al Ghaf sets high sustainability standards

Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) has set ambitious sustainability targets for its new flagship Dubai community, Tilal Al Ghaf, with plans to become the first mixed-use development in the emirate to achieve a ‘very good’ rating under the BREEAM sustainability accreditation programme.

undefinedExtensive on-site generation of solar power will be a key pillar of Tilal Al Ghaf’s sustainability strategy. Majid Al Futtaim aims to produce 20% of the community’s energy needs from renewable solar power, transferring surplus electricity to DEWA through the Shams Dubai initiative which went live in 2017.

To achieve this, the first offering of upper-luxury villas and bungalows, launched in April 2018, will offer rooftop photovoltaic solar panels as a standard feature, providing 45% of energy needs, along with solar hot water heating and top-notch air conditioning systems.

In addition, solar panels will be offered as options on other single-family buildings, and installed on public buildings across the community. Public spaces will be lit by solar-powered streetlights and renewable energy will be deployed alongside smart technology to reduce energy consumption.

“Majid Al Futtaim sets itself apart by not just selling bricks and mortar, but also making a steadfast commitment to the community beyond delivering homes by setting long-term goals to enhance its green footprint,” said the CEO of Majid Al Futtaim Communities, Hawazen Esber. “We are taking an ambitious but practical, viable, and achievable approach to sustainability that will not only have environmental benefits, but in the long-run will also deliver financial savings for residents to create a healthy and balanced community living.”

Other environmental targets include a 55% reduction in the project’s carbon footprint, and 25% reduction in potable water demand. All water bodies, such as the fully swimmable Crystal Lagoon, will be topped up using ground water. This will relieve pressure on the water table, which is rising across much of Dubai.

Homes will be fitted with water filters to provide pure drinking tap water and reduce consumption of bottled water, potentially saving 200 tonnes of plastic waste every year. During building, 60% of construction waste will be diverted from landfill, and 30% of waste will be recycled during operation, with 80% of organic waste recycled as compost for the community’s parks and gardens.

Scientechnic shines a light on Dubai’s latest landmark

Dubai Water Canal is one of the city’s latest landmarks and it was up to Scientechnic to show the impressive 3.2km long development in its best light.

undefinedThe flagship company of Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group LLC was selected to design and execute a comprehensive lighting solution for the area, which includes 6.4km of waterfront, a boardwalk, cycling track and several lifestyle and leisure developments on each side.

Scientechnic’s general manager, Easa F. Al Gurg, said: “Every effort was made in Scientechnic to do our best work on such a prestigious project. If you construct a magnificent building, you’re not able to operate in that space without lighting. Lighting is more than just beautification… it provides the life of a building or a project. The challenge with the Dubai Water Canal wasn’t purely lighting; we had to offer a level of customisation in a record-breaking timeline of just two months.”

Work on-site took place around the clock with over 220 personnel working in three shifts to ensure that the project was completed on time.

Wi-Fi enabled smart poles with CCTV cameras and USB chargers are fitted along the boardwalk. Feature lights on the smart poles provide maximum light reflection on the water. While step lights and planter lights with soothing background music enhance the area’s aesthetics and create a memorable ambience for visitors. 

Amongst the key features of the canal are three contemporary designed pedestrian bridges that allow visitors to cross the canal at key points, while taking in the view. The design of the bridges represents the concepts of the past, present and future. The bridges are lit by bridge lights and handrail lights, in keeping with their three-themed concept. RGB (Red-Green-Blue) dynamic lighting ensures that the lights are not merely guide lights but also highlight the area’s architecture by enabling theme-based colour changing. 

Automatic light intensity controllers ensure that the amount of light is just right for the time of day. LED lights were used for the entire project that is controlled by a system to ensure there is no loss of light. This locally controlled system is co-ordinated with a centrally monitored RTS SCADA system to enable quick detection and prompt correction of faulty lights.

Disruptive solutions to healthcare challenges

While it’s not advisable for patients to be disruptive during their time in hospital, when it comes to building one, it’s a completely different story altogether.

undefinedASGC is currently integrating the use of disruptive technology for the Mediclinic Parkview Hospital, a ten-storey, 500,000 square feet development on Umm Suqeim Road, Dubai.

A spokesperson for ASGC said: “For these projects we always consider using IoT solutions so that all the physical assets in the hospital will be connected to the internet and will be sending information through sensors in real time. While today we are focused on building the structure, in parallel we are considering how the aspects of the building’s connectivity is going to be important to doctors and patients in the coming years.”

In terms of the engineering on this project, ASGC is using BIM, which is helping to solve whatever obstructions come up in coordination with the MEP subcontractor, specialist subcontractor or medical equipment subcontractor. Weekly technical coordination meetings with the BIM team are held to resolve the technical challenges, following which the proposed technical solutions are submitted for the consultant’s approval.

Drones are also being used to help the project team monitor construction progress on the hospital, which will have over 150 beds and six operating theatres. Another challenge overcome here is that a hospital is a building with double-height floors, so formwork is a major consideration. The formwork needs to be fixed in a special order and managed in a safe manner.

One of the biggest challenges the project team has overcome is managing the requirements from the medical side. A great deal of coordination is required between the medical equipment department and the construction field. As the main contractor, ASGC are doing the main fit-out with the medical equipment subcontractor who is working for the client.

The spokesperson added: “For example, there are critical rooms like the MRI room – the medical equipment itself is supplied by the client, so some coordination must be there – like with the lead lining and the RF shielding for the room. This is related to the radiation from the medical equipment. There must be precautions for this, like special treatment for sections of the walls, for the concrete and the lining, which means that a layer has to be built into the wall and ceiling to protect against whatever radiation is coming from these machines or tools.”

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