Analysis of Sustainable Tower Architectural Design in the UAE

The issue of high consumption of energy in commercial buildings such as office towers in the UAE and its adverse impact on the environment is alarming and must be considered by decision makers in any future planning. This requires improvement of ambient microclimate in the urban environment, adaptation of urban buildings to passive mode systems for cooling and natural lighting, and using more efficient advanced air conditioning systems.

Improving energy efficiency and sustainability of office buildings must depend on green design guidelines as a basis for generation of design alternatives and concept development analysis. The design issues and determinants for office tower design are outlined in Table 3.2. This table can be used along with the design guidelines shown in Appendix A to help designers generate design concepts of sustainable towers and to evaluate case studies. The guidelines are used here as basis for a wide-range analysis of office towers design in the UAE. Four case studies are used to demonstrate the ideas. The chosen case studies are described below and their design data received from a conducted survey by the author (of three of them) were introduced in Appendix B.

Table 3.2 Design issues and determinants for office tower design in hot climates

Design issue

Design determinants



• Orientation of long axis

• Aspect ratio of the built form

• Service core configuration

• Type (central-, split-, end-, and atrium-core)

• Orientation

Floor plate design

• Floor plate orientation to sun and wind

• Internal spaces arrangement and the use of solar buffer zones

• Surface area to volume ratio

• Plan depth

Fagade design

• Building envelope (hermetically sealed versus permeable)

• Intelligent Fagade (double skin versus conventional)

Solar control and shading

• Shading devices (type and orientation)

• Existence of deep recesses or sky-courts

• Glazing type (clear, tinted, solar-reflective, low emissivity, other)

Natural and artificial lighting systems

• Type of daylight systems (sidelight, light shelf, top light, etc.)

• Room proportion for side daylighting (height-to-depth ratio, glazing % of external wall area)

• Artificial lighting energy consumption

• Type of artificial lights

• Energy-saving controls for artificial lighting

• Artificial lights coupling with BMS

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