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27/11/2013 - 10:09hs

Public and sustainable building

Everything in the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority building is done to economize resources. The building consumes 66% less energy and 48% less water than a similar enterprise.

Dubai – Inaugurated in February this year, the sustainable Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) building is the largest environmentally green government building in the world. The site has platinum certification by LEED, granted by the US Green Building Council to buildings that comply with rigorous sustainability criteria. On Tuesday (26), ANBA visited the building and learnt what is in the most environmentally correct public building in the world.

Aurea Santos/ANBA

Mock-up showing exterior of the building

The floors of the building are well lit and most of the illumination is natural, as 90% of the areas have broad windows and both work stations and meeting rooms have glass partitions, allowing the sun to illuminate environments.

The strong sun in the Middle East, which can generate strong light inside the building, has its heat contained by plants on the roof. In the place of tiles, or other produced material, plants help maintain a comfortable internal climate.

“It is a plant adapted to our climate, and it needs low consumption of water. We do not use grass, which needs much water,” said Bader Al Qemzi, an engineer and senior manager for maintenance projects. Vegetation occupies 33.5% of the building’s roof.

Above the plants are 2,200 solar panels that generate part of the building’s energy. On the roof there are also four solar water heaters. Regarding water, all the water used in the building is treated there. “We issue no water for external treatment,” said Qemzi. The recycled water is used to irrigate the plants.

With these resources, the building consumes 66% less energy and 48% less water than similar constructions. The Dewa sustainable building has four storeys, totalling 31,587 square meters.

The building hosts customer service and also the Water and Civil Engineering divisions. Built to host 1,000 employees, the site currently houses 600 collaborators and receives around 200 people a day.

The building started being raised in October 2010. Green certification was obtained last year, a few months prior to inauguration. To have an idea of how the enterprise fulfils the necessary requirements, out of a maximum of 110 points a building may obtain, the Arab building got 98.

Aurea Santos/ANBA

Qemzi: preference for local material

 The manager explained that many inputs used in the works are imported, but it was attempted to use the maximum material from the region. “We prefer to use local material to reduce pollution,” said Qemzi, referring to the need of vehicles to transport resources.

In the technology used by the team working in the building, sustainability is also taken into account. “All equipment used has low energy consumption,” said the engineer. The building also counts on CO2 sensors to monitor the quality of the air.

In the green building, 98% of wood is produced from certified trees and forests. There are, of course, baskets for collection of recyclable material, and even the cleaning products used are less aggressive to the environment.

Employees are stimulated to commute to work in a sustainable manner. The building is just 500 metres away from a subway station. Those who prefer to cycle have a guaranteed place for storage and there is also a dressing room with available lockers. In the parking lot, electric cars have special places.

*Translated by Mark Ament

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