The UAE is leading the GCC initiatives in smart building solutions with more than two-thirds of the 1,236 Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (Leed)-certified projects, according to a study by technology firm Honeywell International.
''It is also the frontrunner in the region in implementing unified building codes for new buildings. Since 2014, the Abu Dhabi International Building Code (ADIBC) standards have become compulsory for all projects in the emirate,'' the study noted.
The international smart building market is expected to touch $36.3 billion by 2020 from $7.26 billion in 2015, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 38 per cent, according to a recent report.
Quick to respond to this global trend, the GCC continues to bolster its smart building solutions sector with the implementation of strict environmental regulations.
Dubai, on the other hand, has recently launched the green building rating system called Al Safat, which classifies facilities under the Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze categories. Every building constructed in the emirate after 2014 has to adhere to the minimum Bronze requirement to receive a permit.
The new building codes not only support Expo 2020’s theme ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ through ‘Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability’ but also facilitate Dubai’s move towards becoming a smart city. They also complement Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, which aims to provide seven per cent of the emirate’s energy needs from renewable sources by 2020, increasing its capacity to 25 per cent by 2030 and 75 per cent by 2050.
Imdaad, a leading provider of integrated facilities, environment and energy management solutions in the GCC, has expressed that building owners in the GCC are not harnessing the full potential of building management systems (BMS), noting that 80 per cent of these systems still operate manually.
Despite talks about integration of BMS with heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) with the help of state-of-the-art technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), there has been a moderate response from building owners in acknowledging smart building solutions.
Jamal Abdullah Lootah, CEO, Imdaad, said, "Initially, building owners were not aware of the numerous benefits of smart building technologies such as energy efficiency, building longevity, and enhanced living experiences for residents."
"Moreover, due to a lack of incentives and the cost involved, even facilities management (FM) companies were not enthusiastic about adopting energy saving solutions. However, the implementation of the new codes in the UAE have brought about a definite change in the mind-set of people, including our clients who have started requesting green building solutions," he added.
According to the study, the Middle East’s average smart building score is 48 out of 100 with Doha, Qatar, leading with 70 points, followed by Dubai at 65 and Abu Dhabi at 48. The survey also reported that airports in the region have a score of 80 while hotels are second at 57, followed by hospitals at 56 and retail at 52. Those with the lowest average scores are private offices at 46, high-rise residential buildings at 45 and educational facilities at 41.