The Case for Zero Energy Buildings

November 16, 2017

Everyone needs to become familiar with this concept which is set to become the norm. Darrel Strobel, Managing Director, MEP Engineering, KEO International Consultants explains why.

What are the current trends in MEP?

As a result of global acceptance and ratification of the Paris Agreement to combat climate change and global warming, there is a drive towards near zero and zero energy buildings.  The concept is in its embryonic stage, particularly in the GCC region, but is starting to impact the way we will design buildings now and will do so even more in the future. As legislation is developed to encourage a reduction in the carbon footprint of our buildings, this will become more the norm and it is something everyone should become familiar with.

undefinedHow far is the GCC in alignment with the global adoption of net zero and near net zero energy buildings?

In the UAE, the Emirates Green Building Council issued a booklet earlier in 2017 defining nearly zero energy buildings (nZEBs) for the UAE and encouraging stakeholders to adopt them with the main aims of combating global warming, achieving a net positive built environment and decarbonising the economy (where economic growth and environmental degradation are decoupled). The concept is not currently included in local legislation for buildings, but as an understanding is developed in the coming months and years, the expectation is that this will happen which will therefore require building owners, designers and other stakeholders to adopt it. In Europe, for example, legislation is being put in place that will require all new buildings to target near net zero by as early as 2020.

What are the implications of these changes for the industry?

There are a number of challenges associated with targeting near zero net energy buildings, from understanding and defining the concept in the first place, to gaining recognition and uptake in the market place, to having educated clients who demand it in their new building projects. There is however one major requirement for making the concept of nZEBs achievable and that is the reliance on the technologies available for producing renewable energy on site. Manufacturers are constantly looking at developments to improve equipment efficiencies and reduce costs, and as there is increased demand for renewable energy, such breakthrough developments will occur.  The whole industry will come to rely on them in the future.

Can you give us some examples of low energy building projects in this region?

In my presentation, I use a theoretical case study of a villa in the UAE to show the development required to achieve an nZEB project. We are currently working on a project in Dubai that we understand will be the first zero energy building in the GCC region, however we cannot discuss the details of this project at this stage.  There are many examples globally, two widely recognized ones are the Edge in Amsterdam and Apple Park in Cupertino, California.

During your Talk, what will be your key focal point?

The presentation will start by making the case for nZEB and ZEB buildings, and will then discuss what it means in the UAE.  I will also go through a theoretical case study in detail to show how the process works.

How do you plan to engage with your audience?

The presentation is very visual with difficult concepts explained in a graphical representation which makes it easier to grasp and understand.

Who will benefit the most by attending your Talk?

Any stakeholders involved in owning, designing, constructing and operating buildings will be interested in the developments relating to nZEB happening around the world and in our region.


Darrel Strobel, Managing Director, MEP Engineering, KEO International Consultants, will deliver a presentation on the topic of Net Zero and Near Net Zero Energy Buildings at The Big 5 Talks on day 1 of The Big 5, which runs from 26-29 November 2017. 

Summit: MEP Talks

Topic: Net Zero and Near Net Zero Energy Buildings

Time & Date: 12:30 - 13:30, 26 November

Location: Za’abeel Hall 4

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