Dubai Building Index: An Integrated Approach to Improving Building Lifecycle Performance

The recent Consultant Contractor Conference, held in September, in Dubai saw a spirited discussion amongst the good and great of Dubai’s construction sector about the varied approaches in place today to improve building performance.

Given the fact that shelter has moved from being a fundamental requirement to an expansive sector in itself, comprising of all the knick-knacks required for an improved lifestyle, it is imperative that high building performance be made a priority. However, despite the fact that high building performance is the need of the hour and is talked about a lot, it still feels like a castle in the air. This shortcoming inspired the innovative concept of the ‘Dubai Building Index’, an integrated approach to increasing building performance for its entire lifecycle.

Construction sector should get governed based on the geographical and climatic conditions with a concept of building index which will be an actual representation of the quality of building & actual energy consumption of the same. Let’s assume a concept of ‘Dubai Building Index’, for Dubai.

We dig into the bones of this concept of Dubai Building Index here, to understand how it can be useful and helpful to all stakeholders of construction sector.

Dubai Building Index: An Integrated Approach to Improving Building Lifecycle Performance

Building Performance Can Further our Resolve in Attaining the Sustainable Development Goals.
Source: World GBC

What is the Dubai Building Index?

At its heart, the Dubai Building Index is an approach to assess the performance of a building at regular intervals post project completion, to ensure that building efficiency continues to remain consistent, and suggest improvements required if it does not.

Where did the Idea of Dubai Building Index Stem From?

Over the years, the lifestyle of people all across the world has seen a major reboot. The last 50 years have witnessed an unprecedented development in amenities, especially in the realty sector. There is a growing awareness about the need for comfort, safety, hygiene, and energy efficiency in a building. Accordingly, several norms are in place for new projects, taking care of the eco-friendliness, efficiency, sustainability and safety of the building.

However, when it comes to sustaining the energy efficiency of the building a few years post the occupancy of the building, there are no guidelines to follow. In fact, there is no official procedure in place to analyze and keep track of whether a building is being as energy efficient as it ought to, or is simply degrading the environment day by day!

In addition, as the norms for green building and optimum building performance have been set up recently, a majority of the existing projects are not compliant with the same. It is necessary to understand that focusing on improving the building performance of these projects is as important as ensuring high building performance for new ones.

This is where the concept of Dubai Building Index comes into the picture.

The concept is to address the performance issues of all buildings and provide a range of solutions for improving the same. This includes deciding the factors that can drive the stakeholders to implement sustainable changes/improvements to their buildings, the benefits for each stakeholder individually, and the means to convince people of the need for better building performance.

The Dubai Building Index can offer a way for executing this process.

How Shall the Dubai Building Index Work?

In Dubai Building Index at first, all existing and future buildings will be categorized into four primary types which can be termed as classes:

  • Economy (E) – Buildings that focus on hygiene and safety
  • Comfort (C) – Buildings that focus on hygiene, safety, and comfort
  • Luxury (L) – Buildings that are equipped with luxury amenities in addition to hygiene, safety, and comfort
  • Super Luxury (S) – Buildings that have an opulent array of amenities for an ultra-comfortable lifestyle

Secondly, to determine the efficiency of each building in these classes, an additional star-rating, from 1 to 5 with 5 being highest, shall be added. These star ratings would be based on Energy Use Intensity (EUI), e.g consumption can be categorized as:

  • 100 kWh/m2/yr – 5 star
  • 125 kWh/m2/yr – 4 star
  • 150 kWh/m2/yr – 3 star
  • 175 kWh/m2/yr – 2 star
  • 200 kWh/m2/yr – 1 star

The building shall not receive an energy rating if consumption is above 200 kWh/m2/yr. Hence, the complete method of categorization would be category+class. For example, a Comfort 3-star building would be one that is moderately safe, hygienic, comfortable, and energy-efficient.

Every category and class shall have a decided range of expected building performance and all buildings shall be evaluated at fixed intervals to analyse whether the expected value is being maintained.

Dubai Building Index: From the Stakeholders’ Perspective

Not only can the Dubai Building Index analyse and track building performance, it can also be used to create awareness in the market about efficient building practices and motivate all stakeholders to take an active part towards achieving the same.

OWNER’S PERSPECTIVE:

From the owner’s perspective, developing a building having a high ranking will improve brand recognition. A building that achieves high performance consistently can be given incentives and additional monetary support, motivating it to keep up the efforts.

CONSULTANT’S PERSPECTIVE:

The consultants would be benefitted as they can have the freedom to choose a niche in the market, say luxury buildings, and become conversant with all the ins and outs of the category to optimize building performance for every project. The certification achieved by every building would add to their portfolio, based on which further clients can approach them.

CONTRACTOR’S PERSPECTIVE:

For contractors, having a high-performing building can become a matter of prestige, making them amenable to spend more time on creating a sustainable design that would increase the building performance for the long run and not merely compliant with the current values expected. In addition, the long-term requirement to maintain building performance would ensure that the contractors work in tandem with the developers even after project completion.

OCCUPANT’S PERSPECTIVE:

The occupants can analyse whether a building suits their requirements from its certificate and make an informed decision as to the quality and efficiency of the building before they buy or rent it. In addition, they are fully aware of the expectations for sustainable living based on the building they choose and can follow those norms accordingly.

FACILITY MANAGEMENT:

Facility management agencies can build a portfolio based on the rating of the buildings they provide services for. This can be a useful tool of reference for contractors looking to hire facilities management services for their project.

On a Final Note

The Dubai Building Index can be an innovative way to promote improved building performance in new as well as existing stock of buildings in the market. It takes into account the fact that sustainable development is not just in creating new buildings that are energy-compliant, it is also in upgrading buildings with low efficiency to make them more energy-efficient.

A universal method of analysis can be successful in aligning the varied interests of the stakeholders involved in a project and making a cohesive effort towards a sustainable future.

What are your thoughts about the Dubai Building Index? Comment below to let us know!

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