Ramboll Middle East, an engineering, design and consultancy company, announced yesterday it is investing Dh300,000 in research into new strategies for retrofitting existing buildings to improve energy efficiency, said its Middle East Managing Director.
It is also in the process of announcing a partnership with a like-minded public or private partner to widen the scope of the research, he added.
"We actually made a decision to fund the research in 2009 but it will be carried out this year," Peyman Mohajer, Middle East Managing Director at Ramboll told Emirates Business.
"The initial funding has come in from Ramboll Foundation, which has funds allocation for humanitarian projects and we applied for this fund last year. It is required in this country that we do some research into existing buildings and try to minimise the carbon emissions. We were given the go ahead before the end of 2009. We thought that the World Future Energy Summit was a good time to announce the launch of this project, which will look at sustainable design for existing buildings.
"There are many developers in the region who use sustainability ratings as a key pillar of their new projects. Yet, it is well-known that new buildings are greatly outnumbered by those already in existence. With this in mind, Ramboll is committing Dh300,000 to research into designing existing UAE buildings towards being carbon neutral."
Ramboll is now arranging meetings with other firms and organisations in the region to discuss future partnerships, he added. "So far, we were waiting for the approval, from the head office. So we did not approach anyone. Now that we have the go ahead, we will be inviting them to join us," said Mohajer. "We are the initial stages of the discussions and will hopefully announce this by early next week. Any party who would be interested in doing something in this area is welcome. We are at the beginning of the journey and have many bridges to cross. But we also have the backing of this foundation and hence do not expect them to fund at this stage."
The plan is to have an ongoing research programme, which will have support from like-minded government bodies and also from some private organisations. "The information will be freely available on our website to begin with and then will be further disseminated through public journals. We hope that it will act as a catalyst and enabler for those in the Middle East who wish to make their own homes, offices, schools and neighbourhoods more sustainable."
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