Analysis of Architectural Design Sustainability Issues of Office Towers in Hot Climates: UAE Case

Khaled A. Al-Sallal


The UAE has been spending billions of dollars to construct new urban developments in order to satisfy the country’s fast development, which started since the country was founded in 2 December 1971. The architecture in the major cities such as Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah has been shifting into large-scale projects or the so-called mega projects. Such projects typically involve tower architecture. These huge developments are manifested by the continuous vibrant change of the cities’ skylines, which sometimes could be noticed easily within a few weeks.

Due to their huge size and external surface area exposed to harsh outdoor conditions (e.g., solar radiation, temperature, and humidity), tower buildings usually consume massive amounts of energy (mainly for cooling and lighting) and water, which makes them among the highest environmental footprint contributors and the largest CO2 and greenhouse gases emitters. High-energy consumption of office towers as a result of high reliance on inefficient systems and poor lighting design has been witnessed in many buildings like the ones discussed later in this chapter. Many problems emerge from inappropriate design decisions usually made at the early stages of architectural design such as the choice of form configuration and orientation or the depth of floor-plate.

Pressure to slash CO2 emissions continues to mount with growing levels of legislation and incentives to preserve the environment. To meet these targets, considerable efforts into energy efficiency are underway. In Abu Dhabi, the foundation for Estidama was created in 2007 by the Urban Planning Council (UPC) in the form of Plan Abu Dhabi 2030, which aimed to define how a contemporary, sustainable Arab Capital should look and how it could live (UPC-Estidama 2010). Under the Estidama initiative, a building rating system, called the Pearl Rating System for Estidama,

K.A. Al-Sallal (*)

Department of Architectural Engineering , UAE University, Abu Dhabi , United Arab Emirates

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017 A. Sayigh (ed.), Sustainable High Rise Buildings in Urban Zones, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-17756-4_3

was developed and UPC made an announcement of its approval in May 2010. Similar efforts were also made by the Government of Dubai to tackle the increasing environmental issues caused by building constructions in the Dubai Emirate, which lead to the introduction of the Dubai Green Building Regulations implemented in 24 October 2007.

Over the next three decades, the building stock is projected to grow extensively in many parts of the world, which creates an extraordinary opportunity to achieve significant emissions reductions in the building sector. The purpose of this chapter is to analyze current practice of office tower design in the UAE with regard to sustainability issues with emphasis on increased energy consumption. The method used previous research findings as basis for analysis and the derived outcomes are schemed in formats to work as sustainable design guidelines for building designers.

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