Abu Dhabi: Building cooling systems in the UAE are a major cause of concern among environment officials who are working together with relevant experts to invest in cleaner solutions despite the challenges, a top official in Paris said.

Speaking to Gulf News on the sidelines of the ongoing Paris Climate Change Conference, Dr Thani Al Zayoudi, Director of Energy and Climate Change at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: “Cooling in our buildings is consuming a lot of energy. Therefore we are taking steps in eliminating less efficient appliances and investing in technologies that can enhance the competence of these systems.”

In fact, Chairman of the Emirates Green Building Council and board member of the World Green Building Council, Saeed Al Abbar more specifically said 60-70 per cent of a structure’s energy in the UAE goes toward cooling systems.

“A large portion of our carbon footprint is from buildings … Therefore, a system called district cooling which can reduce energy consumption by up to 40 per cent is already in place accounting for approximately 20 per cent of the UAE’s cooling energy,” he told Gulf News.

“District cooling is a technology approach where by a cooling system is provided on an industrial scale therefore eliminating the need of an air conditioning system in each building. This provides energy for a district or collection of buildings and allows through economies of scale, the technologies to be much more efficient,” he added.

The Downtown Burj Khalifa area, the Dubai International Financial Centre area are some newer locations with district cooling while others such as Abu Dhabi Emirate have had it installed for around 15 years.

“In theory, due to the higher energy efficiency of the building, owners would pay a lower consumption charge to district cooling providers in exchange for air conditioning services than they would if they had the devices installed in their own property, “ he said.

While this model presents an economically viable solution for most there still are some challenges with district cooling.

“Retrofitting the system in villa compounds which usually have a large surface area and a relatively low population density may not be ‘financially sound’. Installing the right size especially in places where the development is taking place in phases and doing so in areas with older buildings can also be challenging. However, the government is working on regulations in order to ensure that we maximise the benefits of this technology,” the official added.