Nearly Zero Energy Building Study

The UAE aims to become a global leader in sustainability and has implemented a number of national strategies that will bring it closer to achieving this objective. Strategies including the UAE Vision 2021, Dubai Plan 2021, and Abu Dhabi Plan 2030 all have clear targets towards sustainability, and the UAE has further demonstrated its commitment to limiting climate change as a signatory to the Paris Climate Agreement.

The EmiratesGBC’s nZEB study is one of its many programs that works to support the UAE’s efforts to reducing the carbon footprint of its built environment. Nearly Zero Energy Buildings (nZEB) are buildings that have very low energy consumption and use renewable energy to meet most of its energy requirements. Globally, most of the European Member States are also committed to the Paris Agreement and have subsequently started implementing a transition to nZEBs, with the aim to make all new buildings nearly zero by end of 2020 under the Directive 2010/31/EU.

It is important for the UAE to adhere to these global trends to realize both national and international pledges. Developing nZEBs in the UAE can pave the way for developing a low carbon, low energy economy and set an example for other countries within the Middle East region.


For this purpose, EmiratesGBC carried out a first of its kind nZEB study in the region and published a statistical and analytical report that provides an initial definition of Nearly Zero Energy Buildings (nZEB) in the UAE with an aim to support future building regulations.

As part of the study, EmiratesGBC approached its corporate members, partners and standout projects requesting masked data on best practice low-energy projects. To evaluate the market readiness and feasibility of nZEBs in the UAE, EmiratesGBC also approached building experts to complete a survey on their understanding of the concept of Nearly Zero Energy Buildings.
The main objectives of the study were as follows:

  • Review existing definitions of low, zero and positive energy buildings,
  • Identify factors and parameters which can help define Nearly Zero Energy Buildings with a particular focus on the UAE and the region at large,
  • Recommend a suitable definition for Nearly Zero Energy Buildings in the UAE based on analysis of best practice projects.

The findings of the study were announced at the report launch during World Green Building Week on 27th September 2017 at a Focus Day held with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce. The 2017 World Green Building Week was themed ‘Our Hero Is Zero’, placing global focus on net zero buildings.