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15 July 2024

Emirates Green Building Council calls for setting up financing scheme for ‘green’ retrofit of buildings

By Staff

Emirates Green Building Council (EmiratesGBC), an independent forum aimed at conserving the environment by strengthening and promoting green building practices, has proposed the creation of an innovative financing scheme to promote the green retrofitting of existing buildings to make them more energy-efficient. EmiratesGBC will serve as facilitator of the project, which aims to strengthen the uptake of financially viable energy-efficient projects in the country.

EmiratesGBC will meet financing institutions, insurance agencies, suppliers and regulators to lend momentum to the project. The Council had set up a dedicated taskforce to support the creation of a green financing scheme. The team worked with various stakeholders to address the current challenge of funding green retrofit projects, and have been in discussions with banks and financial institutions to obtain their inputs.

Adnan Sharafi, EmiratesGBC Chairman, said: “One of the key issues identified in our extensive studies to promote sustainable built environments is the lack of adequate financial support for retrofitting existing buildings to new green building standards. We observed a lack of awareness in the market about opportunities for energy retrofitting, and a scarcity of funds among landlords to make the necessary changes. Building owners also do not have any incentive to implement the energy savings because electricity bills are largely paid by the tenants.

“This encouraged us to focus on promoting the creation of a green financing scheme for existing buildings, as making them ‘greener’ will be a strategic step to address the energy sector challenges we face today. A concerted industry approach, where stakeholders come together to create a financing scheme will significantly boost the green building sector of the UAE, and in turn contribute to the nation’s sustainable development.”

Research conducted by the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) has highlighted that improving the efficiency of existing buildings has the highest potential for cost effective reductions in carbon emissions. Today, buildings account for the most significant part of electricity consumption, estimated at about 80 percent of total power usage. Additionally, traditional energy sources also lead to a larger ecological footprint.

“With the nation now focusing more on a strong energy management strategy led by renewables and boosting efficient use of existing resources, green buildings can complement the approach effectively by reducing power consumption,” explained Sharafi. “According to reports, the peak demand for electricity is expected to increase by 40 percent by 2020. Improving the energy efficiency of existing buildings provides a financially efficient strategy for the UAE to tackle energy-sector and environmental degradation challenges.”

He added: “The UAE has clearly defined its goal of promoting ‘a green economy for sustainable development’ in the strategic vision announced by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. With a serious and firm commitment from different stakeholders, we can further accelerate this vision by offering tangible support for sustainable building projects.”

Energy audits and energy efficiency retrofits offer a significant opportunity for not only reducing the carbon footprint of the built environment but also offering substantial operational savings to building owners and tenants. Among the suggestions put forth by EmiratesGBC include the creation of a special ‘home improvement loan’ for energy retrofit projects, as well as co-ordinated efforts with insurance and government agencies.

EmiratesGBC has more than 260 members representing all stakeholders in the building construction supply chain. EmiratesGBC regularly takes part in key conferences and exhibitions to promote sustainable built environments.