x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

'Green makeover' winners find even small steps can mean lower energy footprint,

A campaign by Emirates Wildlife Society - World Wide Fund for Nature has picked three private companies for a Dh100,000 energy saving effort.

ABU DHABI // When it comes to reducing energy and water use, companies can do a little to achieve a lot. A campaign by Emirates Wildlife Society - World Wide Fund for Nature (EWS-WWF) aims to help some of them do even more, choosing three private companies out of more than 300 entries this week as winners of a "green makeover". Air conditioning accounts for most of the energy corporations use: some 60 per cent for commercial ventures and 70 per cent for hotels. Making chillers work more efficiently and reducing the rate of air flow can lead to a substantial reduction, as can installing motion sensors to activate air flow.

The same motion sensors can also cut down on energy used in lighting. "Without big investments, you can achieve savings of about 10 to 20 per cent," said Markus Oberlin, the general manager of the Dubai-based Farnek Avireal, which will carry out energy audits as part of the EWS-WWF contest. "The biggest savings potential is in old buildings." More expensive options include putting up shading devices to limit the amount of heat entering the building, reducing cooling demands.

All the contest winners will be considered as part of the Heroes of the UAE campaign. Launched in May of this year, the campaign earlier saw schools competing for green makeovers. In the latest instalment, Brightpoint, a wireless devices manufacturer; Agility, a logistics company; and the property developer Aldar were chosen for upgrades. Each makeover, which will include retrofitting as well as consulting, will be worth Dh100,000. The Emirates Foundation for Philanthropy is footing the largest share of the bill. Two other companies - the Kanoo Group and Abu Dhabi's One to One hotel - were already chosen as part of the initiative and have undergone audits.

"Our aim was to choose companies from different sectors to show that you can achieve savings regardless of what type of business you are in," said Tanzeed Alam, the EWS-WWF climate change and sustainability manager. "There are some really easy wins possible. Some of them can be no-cost options. It could be simple behaviour changes as well." The winners were chosen based on eco-friendly initiatives they have already been implementing. Agility launched a programme in August to recycle its office paper.

"Paper recycling affects everybody, it was a no-brainer," said Brent Ruru, manager for quality and business process at the company. Agility, which has five offices and 1,000 employees, also has come up with a plan to replace lighting in one of its older offices with more efficient alternatives. The auditors will have to work out solutions for a 60,000-square-metre warehouse and the company's head office, both in Jebel Ali.

"A lot of the initiatives can be rolled out to our other offices," said Mr Ruru. Agility also has given itself a year to reduce its water, electricity and paper use by 15 per cent. The savings would equal Dh1 million per year, he said. @Email:vtodorova@thenational.ae