Energy conservation is one of the biggest challenges of these modern times given the spiralling amount of energy consumed every single day. In the UAE alone, the nation al annual peak demand for electricity has been projected to reach over 40,000 MW by 2020, accounting for a cumulative annual growth
rate (CAGR) of around 9 per cent from 2007. This is altogether not very surprising considering the rapid pace of development that is happening across the UAE, a country who se energy consumption per capita is already up to seven times more than the global average. On one hand, the exceptionally high level of energy consumption presents unprecedented problems, particularly in light of the sustainable development agenda that is being pursued by the UAE Government. On the other hand, this actually presents a huge opportunity and an even greater incentive for the UAE to be more aggressive in moving ahead with its energy conservation initiatives.
Such challenges are not unique to the UAE. The rest of the Middle East region, particularly the GCC countries, is facing the same major obstacles with regards to escalating energy consumption given the fast-expanding economies and the region’s distinctively hot climate. In fact, studies have shown that up to 70 per cent of the energy demand in the GCC is generated by cooling requirements alone. In response to such extraordinarily high level of energy consumption, GCC governments have introduced environmental regulations and more stringent green building standards, highlighting the critical importance of sustainable energy consumption as a key element to the socioeconomic development agenda of GCC countries.
Despite the fact that they are collectively the worlds’ leading producers of oil, GCC countries are among those that take the issue of energy conservation very seriously. Projects such as the Masdar City in the UAE underline the concern within the region to create more sustainable solutions to address future energy needs. This is particularly important in light of the the scale and complexity of the development projects being undertaken in the region, such as the recently unveiled mega-development Mohammed Bin Rashid City in Dubai, which is possibly the largest project of its kind in the UAE; The Pearl-Qatar in Doha, the artificial island that will create over 32 kilometres of new coastline in Qatar; and the ambitious economic cities being built in KSA, among many others.
The increasing adoption of sustainable, energy-efficient Facilities Management (FM) solutions has been credited as one of the key factors that have contributed in gradually improving the efficient use of energy and promoting sustainability in the region. Facilities management essentially provides outsourced solutions that enable business organisations to take advantage of the most modern and energy-efficient technologies and techniques in the maintenance and management of their facilities. In this context, the FM industry has accordingly become synonymous with sustainability and energy efficiency. Indeed, a growing number of master developers, property owners and contractors increasingly appreciate the long- term impact and value of partnering with a professional facilities manager for the proper maintenance and management of their properties and assets.
“Although it is a relatively new concept in the Middle East, experience dictates that professional FM companies are best equipped to handle the maintenance and management of buildings, facilities and other business assets. Numerous studies have already shown that maintenance, management and
energy expenditure account for most of the total lifecycle cost of buildings and other facilities. Building owners, in most cases, do not have the expertise and resources to optimally maintain and manage their properties, forfeiting the opportunity of generating more long-term savings from the property’s total lifecycle cost. Taking this into account, it therefore pays to invest in trained professionals who have the skill- set, experience and technology to properly
maintain and manage buildings and facilities without compromising on cost and energy efficiency,” says Jamal Abdulla Lootah, CEO of Imdaad, a leading provider of integrated facilities management solutions in the GCC. Underlining the growing popularity and importance of FM services in the region, it has been reported that the regional FM industry registered revenues in excess of USD 4.2 in 2010, increasing by over 10.5 per cent from USD 3.8 billion in 2009. By 2013, it has been projected that the FM industry will further accelerate its growth to reach a value of USD 8 billion. The aggressive adoption of FM services in key high-growth markets such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar has been recognized as a major driving force behind the robust growth of the industry over the years.
Imdaad affirms that a growing number of enterprises now greatly appreciate the true value of FM services as a strategic investment. The company now boasts a portfolio of high-profile clients who all acknowledge the concrete benefits and business value of Imdaad’s specialized integrated FM solutions.
“Business enterprises enjoy a wide range of benefits when they embrace FM solutions as part of their business strategy. More specifically, I believe that FM services deliver two major advantages to businesses. First, it makes available highly specialised expertise and resources for maintenance and management of facilities without the usual huge upfront cost they may have to incur if they do these tasks in-house. Second, they enjoy long-term savings in energy consumption cost without having to make drastic changes to their business operations. Our clients have professed that facilities management is the perfect sustainable solution to enhance the lifecycle of their properties, and to maintain cost-efficiency and profitability,” says Lootah.
In a study titled “Energy and sustainability policies in the GCC”, which was commissioned by the Kuwait Programme on Development, Governance and Globalisation in the Gulf States, it has been revealed that the high purchasing power and the growing number of the urban population has greatly contributed to the surge in energy demand in the GCC. Moreover, it has been noted that the energy sector suffers from unsustainable energy production and consumption patterns, particularly in the end-user segment, according to a study jointly conducted by the League of Arab States and the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia entitled “Progress Achieved on Energy for Sustainable Development In the Arab Region”. These studies clearly show that aside from the business and industrial sectors, the residential sector is equally responsible for the sustainable use of energy in the society.
FM companies are therefore gradually expanding the scope of their core services to offer more specialized solutions tailored for homeowners in the region. Imdaad, for its part, has established the Imdaad HomePro Maintenance Services, a new line of business that specifically serves individual homeowners. Imdaad HomePro Maintenance Services cover all key areas of protecting and preserving the safety, value and beauty of the home, while lowering the total cost of home ownership, particularly energy-related costs, in the long run.
“Households naturally play a vital role in reducing the overall energy costs of the entire society. It was therefore very important for Imdaad to introduce specialized FM solutions that specifically cater to the needs of residential communities. The awareness level of residents with regards to energy conservation and sustainability is very high because of widespread awareness campaigns and extensive government efforts to promote sustainable practices in the society. The HomePro services were introduced in line with Imdaad’s strategy to constantly expand the scope of our services and address emerging requirements and demands in the facilities management market,” says Lootah.
More than providing specialized integrated FM services to businesses and residential communities, the FM industry has also been a leading advocate of modern concepts and technologies that complement energy conservation efforts in the society. Because of the nature of their services, FM companies are in an excellent position to influence other sectors of the society to embrace sustainable technologies and practices, including the use of more efficient and cost-effective alternative sources of energy. Some of the new technologies that have huge potential to boost energy efficiency in buildings and households include solar power, cool roofing technology, which helps reduce the Urban Heat Island Effect, and advanced HVAC systems, among many others.
“It is important to look at the big picture to be able to deliver a more cost-effective, efficient and high-impact FM solution to our customers. We always explore all possibilities and see how we can provide high-quality FM services that match the evolving needs of the society. This approach has led us to alternative energy sources and technologies, which are some of the truly
innovative and ingenious ways to address various FM challenges, particularly those that are related to energy conservation. Indeed, with maintenance, management and energy expenditure accounting for up to 80 per cent of the total lifecycle cost of properties, I think that it is very important that we constantly explore new ways to help businesses and homeowners reduce their energy consumption levels and collectively make a significant impact in the continuing efforts to cut down the spiralling energy consumption of the society,” concludes Lootah.