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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/tenants.  In fact, research conducted by the Inter Governmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) found that improving the efficiency of existing buildings has the highest potential for cost effective reductions in carbon emissions.

With a relatively small industrial sector, the majority of electricity consumption in the UAE occurs in buildings with estimates of 80% of total electricity consumption attributable to buildings widely cited.  In continuing its strategic development as a competitive, diversified economy, there are numerous challenges faced by the UAE’s energy sector, including;

  • Energy security issues (UAE is now a net importer of natural gas)
  • Meeting peak demand (UAE currently utilises extremely expensive liquid fuels to meet peak demands during the summer)
  • Providing the infrastructure to meet the future energy demands of the country (some estimates state that peak demand will increase by over 40% by 2020)
  • Reducing government spending on electricity subsidies
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions (the UAE has one of the world’s highest carbon footprints per capita)

It is widely reported and acknowledged within the building industry that energy retrofits provide substantial operational savings, with short payback times.  Furthermore there exists numerous energy efficiency opportunities in almost all buildings in the UAE, which incur very little or no capital cost.  To date, however the uptake of energy efficient retrofits in the UAE and Middle East has been relatively limited.  Stimulating the market for energy efficiency retrofits of existing buildings provides a viable private sector led approach to tackling the major energy challenges of the UAE, which leads to the following benefits:

  1. Reduction in annual and peak electricity demand of the UAE.
  2. Reduction in the quantity of future investments required in energy infrastructure through a reduction in peak demand
  3. Reduced government spending on utility subsidies
  4. Creation of knowledge based jobs and opportunities in the field of energy efficiency
  5. Positioning the UAE as a regional and global leader in energy efficiency
  6. Improving energy security

The Emirates Green Building Council has created a taskforce of industry experts to identify the major challenges that inhibit the widespread implementation of energy efficiency projects in buildings in the UAE and has also proposed approaches that can be taken to overcome these challenges.

The EGBC taskforce of industry specialists is currently developing a detailed program of activities to overcome these challenges and shall be working with key stakeholders from the industry, finance institutions, insurers and regulators to devise collaborative approaches to stimulate the energy efficiency sector, which is a critical pillar to the sustained economic development of the UAE.

View the summary of Challenges/Solutions identified.

For questions or comments on the EGBC Energy Efficiency Program, or for details on how to get involved, please contact the Emirates Green Building Council at