x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Wildlife group urges firms to cut use of electricity and water

Emirates Wildlife Society launches campaign asking companies to help to reduce UAE's environmental footprint, with savings of 10 per cent targeted

An audit found the One to One hotel's carbon footprint could be reduced by 17 per cent, saving Dh72,000 a year.
An audit found the One to One hotel's carbon footprint could be reduced by 17 per cent, saving Dh72,000 a year.

DUBAI // Companies are being asked to cut their electricity and water use by 10 per cent. The campaign, launched yesterday by the Emirates Wildlife Society - World Wide Fund for Nature (EWS-WWF), is part of its nationwide initiative, Heroes of the UAE. Razan al Mubarak, the managing director of the EWS-WWF, said voluntary measures were needed to help the country reduce its environmental footprint, the world's biggest.

The environmental footprint measures the area necessary to provide all the resources for a country to sustain itself. Ms al Mubarak said: "Since 2001, the UAE has had among the highest environmental footprints. This is mainly due to our carbon footprint." Dr Rashid bin Fahan, the Minister of Environment and Water, who attended the campaign's launch at the Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre, said: "There is big room for reductions in consumption. It needs commitment. It is everybody's problem."

Based on this country's environmental footprint, if everyone lived the same way as the average UAE resident, humanity would need four-and-a-half earths to sustain itself. The measure takes into account more than water and electricity use. It includes the total area needed to produce a country's food or timber, and to absorb its waste. But electricity and water use are regarded as key components and, in the case of the UAE, have been identified as major challenges.

The Heroes of the UAE campaign, launched last year, initially focused on getting people to change their lifestyles. The focus was expanded to include government institutions, including the ministry, which was advised on how to run its building more efficiently. The recommendations resulted in savings of 40 per cent in water use and 24 per cent in electricity consumption, Dr bin Fahad said. The campaign team is now bringing the same approach to private companies. Yesterday's launch featured two which had volunteered for green makeovers.

The Kanoo Group, which is involved in industries such as oil and gas, shipping, machinery and travel, underwent an audit to assess its electricity and water use, as well as the amount of waste it produces. The study found that, by introducing simple modifications to lighting and air-conditioning systems, the company could reduce by up to 25 per cent the carbon footprint at its headquarters, which emits 454 tonnes of greenhouse gases per year.

Prashant Nasery, Kanoo's quality manager, said it was already working on improving the efficiency of an air-conditioning system. The procedure, in which a chemical additive is run through cooling pipes to remove accumulated oil, is said to improve efficiency by up to 20 per cent. If it proved efficient, the procedure could be implemented at other company buildings, Mr Nasery said. The Kanoo Group yesterday became the UAE's first corporate "hero" by officially signing up to the programme. This involves Kanoo pledging reductions of at least 10 per cent in electricity and water use. It had to document its experience in the form of a case study and make a long-term pledge to further reduce its impact on the environment.

Tthe One to One hotel in Abu Dhabi, although it has not signed up to become a full corporate participant in the campaign, is also taking green steps. It was the subject of an energy, water and waste audit in March. The study found that the hotel's carbon footprint - 1,280 tonnes of greenhouse gases a year - could be reduced by up to 17 per cent, which would translate into savings of Dh72,000 (US$20,000) a year.

The hotel is now experimenting with energy-efficient lighting in one of its villas, said Rabih Feghali, the manager. If guests responded positively, lighting throughout the property would be changed, he said. @Email:vtodorova@thenational.ae