Potentials of Retrofitting the Federal Buildings in the UAE to Net Zero Electricity Cost Buildings by Implementing Passive and Active Measures

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The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
The efforts of the United Arab Emirates' (UAE) government regarding sustainable developments are remarkable since the country was labeled with the highest ecological footprint in 2007. Many strategies and initiatives have been launched to manage the energy demand and to diversify energy supply as well. The buildings sector has received a huge amount of attention due to the fast pace development of the country. However, the challenge relies within the existing buildings. The electricity consumption doubled in the last 10 years, and the energy demand is expected to increase around 30% by 2020 compared to 2014. A promising initiative, which allows rooftop photovoltaic to be grid connected, is expected to play a key role in reducing electricity demand from the main grid and provide buildings with green energy. This research aims to assess the potentials of retrofitting an existing office building to a net zero electricity cost building by implementing passive and active strategies to reduce the energy demand. This includes the use of photovoltaic technology to provide the building with energy supply in order to reduce its reliance on the grid electricity. A federal building has been chosen as a case study to deliver a broader message of the country's vision towards sustainability, both locally and globally. IES VE simulation software is used to assess the impact of each strategy for both passive and active categories on reducing energy consumption. Different scenarios for each parameter are applied to highlight the optimal scenario prior to introducing the renewable energy. The results reveal that implementing passive measures, such as shading elements and upgrading walls and windows' thermal insulation, provide around 19% saving of the cooling energy consumption and 14.7% in total electricity consumption. Moreover, active measures, such as enhancing COP of cooling system and varying the cooling set-point, increase the savings in electricity up to 63.2% . The introduction of photovoltaic systems as an energy supply proved to be a great addition as an active measure. Since the base case is an office building, the energy demand corresponds with the energy supply; therefore, the majority of the produced solar energy was consumed on site. Different scenarios with different technologies are assessed to define the optimal scenario for this base case. Ultimately, both passive and active strategies have played an important role in reducing electricity consumption. However, in newly constructed federal buildings with high internal gain, active measures proved to be more effective in reducing electricity consumption than passive strategies. However, with such a hot climate region, protecting the glazing from solar radiation is considered a priority as well, especially in buildings with large windows such as the base case. In this research, since the building is a small sized office building (G+1) with a total area of 2251m2, PVs solar energy has proved to be a very efficient energy supply and can transform the building to a net zero electricity cost building.
federal buildings, United Arab Emirates (UAE), electricity consumption, green energy, photovoltaic technology, renewable energy