Green Focus

The Taipei 101 ... the tallest building to receive Leed-Ebom Platinum certification.

The Taipei 101 ... the tallest building to receive Leed-Ebom Platinum certification.

SBT builds green momentum

Having helped Taipei 101 score a first with Leed certification, Siemens Building Technologies (SBT) is now spreading the green revolution across the Middle East, reports PUMMY KAUL.

September 2011

HAVING successfully helped Taipei 101 become the world’s tallest green building – a recognition conferred on the Taiwanese 508-m high-rise in July – Siemens Building Technologies (SBT), one of the world’s leading providers of safe, secure and energy efficient solutions for buildings, is keenly eyeing the Middle East as an attractive market that holds great potential for efficient building systems.

The company says it currently has about 30 landmark green building projects in hand and is already the Number Two player (after Honeywell Automation & Control Solutions) in the region.

Taipei 101 earned the US Green Building Council’s Leed (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification, becoming the world’s first building of its size to receive the Leed-Ebom Platinum certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance) – the highest level for energy efficiency and environmental design.

Completed in 2004, the 101-storey tower in Taipei is the second-tallest building in the world, surpassed only by the 828-m Burj Khalifa in Dubai, UAE.

SBT played a key role in helping Taipei 101 attain the certification. Over the past two years, Taipei 101’s building automation and energy efficiency were optimised to achieve 10 per cent savings in electricity usage, water consumption and garbage production. Indoor air quality is now meeting the highest standards as laid out by Leed. Thus, Taipei 101’s energy consumption is 30 per cent lower in comparison to that of an average building, leading to annual energy cost savings of approximately $700,000.

SBT is an operating division of Siemens founded in October, 1998, through the acquisition of the industrial activities of Electrowatt of Switzerland, thus integrating and combining several decades of experience in building automation and fire safety. Among the key projects it is handling in the GCC are the Dubai International Airport, Atlantis The Palm hotel in Dubai, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, and of course, Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company, with which Siemens has signed a long-term strategic partnership.

Siemens Building Technologies ... eyes set on Middle East market.

“For Siemens, the Middle East market is similar to that in Asia and is definitely attractive,” says Hubert Keiber, CEO of Siemens’ Building Automation Business Unit.

“We have about 20 to 30 projects in the pipeline across the GCC spread across in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), Dubai and Abu Dhabi (UAE) and Qatar,” he adds.

Keiber, however, acknowledges the fact that the recent cash crunch has made a serious dent in the growth of the regional construction/real estate industry. With the Dubai market being depressed, he says the company has shifted its resources to Abu Dhabi and Qatar “so that we can compensate for what we are losing in Dubai”.

Siemens is partnering with Masdar to conduct research into technologies for smart buildings, smart grids and carbon capture and sequestration. In the near future, it intends to open a centre of excellence for building technologies in Masdar City. The company has also recently moved its regional headquarters to Abu Dhabi. In addition, Siemens’ Oil & Gas Division has been headquartered in Abu Dhabi since 2010. The company’s Middle East area of operations stretches from Pakistan to the GCC countries, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, and Libya. According to Siemens officials, there are increasing signs of an upsurge in demand for green buildings in the GCC region, driven by regulations and now examples set by government clients. The increased global push towards energy efficiency and the local water scarcity problem are also some of the factors prompting the change.

According to chairman, CEO and chief scientist at EcoTech International Robert Watson – known as the father of the Leed green building rating system – about 100 million sq ft of space is registered and under the green certification process in Saudi Arabia, while about 30 million sq ft in Qatar and about 500 million sq ft is being developed in the UAE.
Green certification is increasing worldwide, although the dominant certification systems vary by nation and by region. Leed, the voluntary standard first introduced by the US Green Building Council, is the dominant green building certification system in the US, while the Middle East utilises both Leed and Breeam (a sustainable certification system created by the British Research Establishment, and used widely in parts of the European Union, in the Middle East and in some parts of southeast Asia.) and Asian nations, including China, Singapore, Korea and Taiwan, have introduced government-sponsored green building certification systems, which are frequently used alongside Leed or Breeam.
In the past few years, GCC countries, too have introduced their own green buildings codes. The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa), for instance, has introduced green building regulations, Abu Dhabi’s Urban Planning Council (UPC) has launched its Estidama (sustainability) ratings system and Barwa and Qatari Diar Research Institute has developed Qatar Sustainability Assessment System (QSAS).

In Saudi Arabia, serious efforts are being made to develop a coherent green building strategy. The Saudi Green Building Council, formed in 2009, is expected to finish its own version of Leed within two to three years. Saudi Arabia’s ecological footprint is estimated at 4.5 global hectares per capita, roughly twice the world average.

The impact of these new regulations is likely to be significant: A recent study by global management consultants AT Kearney says GCC countries can potentially save over $5 billion to $10 billion in infrastructural investment by 2020, through the use of smart technology in monitoring and measuring energy usage.

The report said the use of smart metering and smart grids can predict usage patterns and adjust power generation and transmission to convey energy to the place where it is needed the most.

Naturally, the huge demand for green buildings in the Middle East is likely to offer new growth opportunities for players like SBT.

In pursuing its Middle East strategy, SBT says it is focusing on new buildings rather than existing buildings in the region. “We are focusing in the Middle East on new buildings as retrofitting, in my view, is too early,” says Keiber.

The company provides advice on energy efficiency to the owners of commercial premises and works with them to develop action plans for greater energy efficiency. The aim is to reduce their use of primary energy by at least 30 per cent.

“Of course, it makes life easier if the building owner goes for a green certification, but we also approach customers without certification offering our energy efficiency project aimed to reduce the energy consumption,” says Keiber.
“Buildings account for 40 per cent of the world’s energy consumption and 21 per cent of the global CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions,” says Keiber. “The energy and cost saving potential is substantial. Owners or operators of green buildings can not only generate a significant impact on environmental mitigation, but they can also substantially save costs over the entire lifecycle of the building,” he adds.

“What makes the ‘going green’ of buildings attractive is that it’s technically feasible and that the return on investment is guaranteed,” adds Peter Weiss, CEO of Siemens, Taiwan.

Services for Taipei 101
With 101 floors (plus an additional five floors below ground), Taipei 101 is Taiwan’s tallest building. Although the green concept was already incorporated into its design from the very beginning of the project, Taipei 101 nevertheless mobilised all its resources to undertake a comprehensive and delicate “Quiet Revolution” to be qualified for Leed Platinum certification.

Having invested tremendous man-hour and resources over the past two years, the tower finally passed all strict evaluation processes and was accredited certification, becoming not only the world’s tallest green building, but also the largest-scale building (1.6 million sq ft) that has acquired the certification (surpassing the US Environmental Protection Agency building that previously held the honour with 900,000 sq ft) and the most-user green building with 90 tenants.
During the certification process, Siemens supplied its expertise in building operations and, in partnership with EcoTech International and Steven Leach Associates, provided the operators of Taipei 101 with consulting services in all aspects of the green building certification. As Leed consultant and initial supplier of building control and management systems, security solutions and lighting for the high-rise, Siemens played a critical role in raising Taipei 101’s building automation – which already was very energy efficient – to the “Platinum” level. Siemens’ consulting services, subsequent implementation of the necessary strategies and plans as well as installation of additional components were instrumental in helping Taipei 101 gain the maximum number of points in the Leed-Ebom categories “Indoor Environmental Quality” and “Energy and Atmosphere”.

Siemens’ Energy Monitoring and Control System (EMCS) facilitated the streamlining of the operation and control of the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) equipment throughout the complex, optimising the entire energy usage. Applying improved algorithms for the chiller plant and changing the sequence of operation also considerably increased the efficiency of the cooling system. Taipei 101’s energy consumption is now 30 per cent lower compared to average buildings. This was achieved by using Siemens’ EMCS as well as through energy modelling, energy audits, commissioning services and the installation of additional sensors.

To detect CO2 levels, sensors have been installed in each of the air-handling units (AHUs) located on 11 mechanical floors in Taipei 101. When CO2 levels are higher, the AHUs will automatically draw in fresh outdoor air to lower the level. Tenants of Taipei 101, therefore, are able to enjoy fresher air in the building with a lower CO2 level.

Given its subtropical location, the tower has two sensors on each floor to monitor humidity level through a centralised monitoring system on 24-hour basis. The sensors activate the adjustment of the chilled water volume in the air-conditioning system to reduce humidity and enhance comfort levels.

The landscaping area of Taipei 101 is now 100 per cent watered with the harvested rainwater. All parking lots of Taipei 101 are located in the basement level, which effectively reduces the urban heat island effect. In addition, Taipei 101 also sponsors the nearby Zhong-Qiang Park to preserve the green area and reduce CO2 emission.

In gaining Leed Platinum certification, Taipei 101 now achieves annual savings of 2,995 tonnes in reduced CO2 emissions – the equivalent of preserving over 9 acres of woodland from deforestation, or 239 cars from being driven for the whole year. In addition, 28,000 tonnes of water as well as 1,261 tonnes of garbage are now saved each year. Power consumption is 4.8 million kWh lower than prior to implementing the measures required to meet the Leed criteria. Efficiency gains translate to cost savings of approximately $700,000 a year.

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