GNcareers, from Gulf News

Saving energy with smart cooling

Saving EnergySam Lehain is the CEO of Logic Utilities, a utilities solutions and services provider in the UAE

As the mercury rises, chilled water production and usage across every building in the country is at its peak capacity. And while they make life bearable in the blistering heat of the desert, are cooling systems being optimally and efficiently utilised? What is their carbon footprint? Can they reduce the impact of their structure on the environment?

Every building owner, developer, management and owners association (OA) needs to look at the cooling system installed in a property and ensure that it is efficient and cost-effective, and that it complies with conservation norms.

This is key as the UAE’s Vision 2021 aims to reduce energy demand by 30 per cent. The government is doing a lot and the private sector needs to proactively contribute to help achieve this target.

This is where companies such as Logic Utilities play a role by providing energy management solutions. Sam Lehain, CEO of Logic Utilities, tells PW the ways in which the firm is helping the government achieve its goals.

What does energy management involve?

There are various aspects of energy management. In the case of Logic Utilities, it involves offering a solution and service — unique metering, maintenance, billing and collections — for the management of chilled energy supply, which is essential for the efficient operation of air-conditioning units in commercial, retail and residential developments.

What are some of the solutions that Logic Utilities offers in chilled energy management?

Our solutions are bespoke because no two developments are the same, and we take into account all the unique aspects of the property to be serviced. Is it centrally cooled or does it use a stand-alone chiller? Has it been handed over? What is its occupancy rate — empty, low or fully occupied? Does the property have an existing system and infrastructure in place? Does it lack the software or commissioning process, or does it require to be retrofitted with meters?

Depending on the answers to the above mentioned, a customised system and final solution includes the actual meter design, open-sourced metering software and an Electronic Bill Presentation and Payment system.

Do the solutions help in saving energy and preventing wastage?

Users are billed on the basis of consumption and not a flat rate. This encourages them to monitor their air-conditioning usage and be sensible. It cuts down unnecessary consumption, eventually leading to conservation of energy. Sensible usage of air conditioning can help in reducing cooled energy consumption by 15-20 per cent.

What are the key challenges when it comes to implementing solutions?

Raising awareness and education are key challenges. In a country where chiller charges are often embedded in the overall cost of the property or levied as maintenance and/or service fees, changing the mindset of the stakeholders — developers, OAs, owners or tenants — can be a difficult task. There are still those who believe that the ability to measure consumption does not guarantee savings or justify the return on investment. Tenants who have so far avoided paying chiller charges because their landlords cover them are hesitant to switch to consumption-based billing.

This is where greater awareness and education are essential to inform the public about the need for a long-term strategy for energy conservation and sustainability, and the significance of each individual’s contribution.

Tell us about the projects handled by Logic Utilities.

The portfolio is growing. We currently service residential, commercial and retail properties in Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Dubai Sports City, Dubai Marina, Shaikh Zayed Road, Dubai International Financial Centre, Jebel Ali and Downtown Dubai. We are working with popular companies such as Emaar, Damac and Asteco. OAs are also increasingly employing our services. Stratum and Novus are two of the larger OAs we work with.

What can we expect from Logic Utilities going forward?

Through our dedication to customer service and satisfaction, as well as energy conservation and innovation, we strive to maintain a leading position within the energy management sector. We believe in educating clients on the importance of responsible management of energy resources and endeavour to be one of the industry stakeholders who will play a role in influencing energy efficiency policies in the country and the region.

How can consumers reduce consumption?

In the summer months, for example, air conditioning typically accounts for 70 per cent of energy consumption in the UAE. If consumers pay heed to the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority’s recommendations, turning their air conditioning up from 20°C to 24°C especially during electrical peak hours — between noon and 5pm — we will not only save 160,000 tonnes of emissions but also 270 million kilowatt hours a year, amounting to Dh81 million. That energy is sufficient to supply electricity to 11,000 apartments for a year.

What is the future of energy management in the country?

By 2021, the UAE aims to reduce energy demand by 30 per cent through programmes and projects promoting green buildings, retrofitting, district cooling and other energy efficiency policies. Over the years we can expect to see more effort from the government, businesses and households in collaborating to achieve the target.

Energy conservation will become a priority in the private sector as more pressure is applied on companies to cut costs and decrease carbon footprint. Also, as the market matures, all industry stakeholders will be required to conform to local and international standards.

Source: Ashutosh Gupta, Special to Property Weekly