Improving sustainability and efficiency in the built environment

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Industry experts are calling for measures to address refrigerant leaks in air conditioning systems and mandatory installation of indoor air quality (IAQ) sensors to increase the sustainability and efficiency of the UAE’s built environment. .

Marco Buoni, Managing Director of the Italian training center Centro Studi Galileo (CSG) and a consultant specializing in indoor air quality and air filtration at several universities and research institutes. Iyad Al Attar, a lecturer, spoke to Zawya Projects at the launch. Industry association Eurovent Middle East will hold the HVACR Leadership Academy in Dubai in October.

Climate groups point out that 40% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings. In the UAE, up to 70 per cent of a building’s energy consumption is spent on cooling and ventilation, with overall consumption exceeding 50 per cent.

Research estimates that 25 percent of energy savings can be achieved through simple preventive maintenance, 15 percent through improved installation, and 20 percent through improved operation of HVACR (heating, ventilation, air conditioning, cooling, and refrigeration) equipment. I am.

Typical air conditioning and refrigeration systems are designed to operate successfully for 20 years without maintenance and have as little as 1% leakage.

“This problem can be solved by training HVACR technicians to properly install, maintain, and regularly check the system,” he said.

Buoni also highlighted the risks posed by refrigerant leaks, noting that refrigerants have a high global warming potential (GWP) compared to CO2 emissions.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), every kilogram of refrigerant leak releases more than 2,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. Therefore, an average-sized supermarket air conditioning system consumes approximately 100 kg of refrigerant per year. A leak rate of 10% means that at least 10kg of refrigerant is released into the atmosphere.

“This requires the introduction of F-gas regulations that restrict the use of refrigerants with GWP values ​​above 2,500. This includes R-404A refrigerant used in refrigeration dryers,” Buoni said. says.

F-Gas regulations require checking for refrigerant leaks and regular system inspections. It also provides for mandatory certification and training of technicians.

However, with the exception of Bahrain, the regulation has not yet been introduced elsewhere in the Middle East, he said.

CSG executives said new environmentally friendly refrigerants and less polluting refrigerants like propane are available for retrofits and new systems.

Buoni said there will be a dedicated pavilion for the refrigeration sector at COP28 in Dubai, where stakeholders are expected to announce the UAE’s intention to ratify the Kigali Amendment as soon as possible to reduce polluting refrigerants. He said that it has been done.

The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol is an international agreement to gradually reduce the consumption and production of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), powerful greenhouse gases widely used in refrigeration, air conditioning, and other industrial applications.

The UAE has signed the amendment, but has not yet ratified it. Mariam bint Mohamed Almheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said the UAE looks forward to working with other GCC countries to accelerate the ratification process.

air quality

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) expert Iyad Al Attar stressed the importance of installing air quality sensors in all buildings due to the deterioration of air quality.

“IAQ measurement systems should be mandatory because air quality should be by design, not requirement. Air quality measurement systems should be mandatory in schools and public buildings,” he said. Stated.

He advised school management to invest in better IAQ sensing systems and filters to legally charge premiums.

Municipal authorities should strongly advocate the installation of IAQ monitoring systems by providing incentives.

“Local governments should set up awards for buildings with the best indoor air quality monitoring systems,” he suggested.

IAQ experts also suggested that the government may consider providing subsidies or interest-free loans to equip buildings with air quality measurement systems.

“The benefits are indirect: if students, teachers and employees don’t get sick in contaminated environments, there will be less absenteeism in schools and offices and fewer hospitalizations,” he said.

He also proposed a measurement mechanism that measures not only solid particulate matter but also gaseous pollutants such as ammonia, NOx (nitrogen oxides), and SOx (sulfur oxides).

He concluded that air quality should be an integral part of the discussion regarding the selection of heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems and the occupancy of new buildings.

“Air filtration is now available with less energy usage, so you can get high efficiency with much less energy usage than you could have five, 10, 20 years ago. So what you need is We have everything in place. All that remains is to position what we have in terms of technology and innovation.”

(Reporting by Bhaskar Raj; Editing by Anoop Menon)

(anoop.menon@lseg.com)

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