Energy & Sustainability Center

Energy & Sustainability Center

Since the inauguration of RIT-D campus, engineering faculty got involved in research related to the development of sustainable environment in Dubai. Many Master’s degree project papers covered different aspects of the subject. Furthermore, a funded research from the Emirates Foundation was also conducted and papers are published in the field. This effort has finally culminated in the establishment of a research facility, The Energy & Sustainability Center.The center will house and coordinate the research in the area of sustainability and renewable energy and will be used by faculty across disciplines. The activities of the group build on the Alternative Energy and Sustainability concentration of the Master of Engineering degree-program at the University, and focus on sustainability and energy efficiency aspects of interest in Dubai and the UAE. The necessary paradigm shift in the source of the energy we use and how we use it represents a truly global challenge, and our group, part of the worldwide network of expertise that Rochester Institute of Technology embodies and represents, is uniquely positioned to accept this challenge. The center research focuses on three main areas:

  1. The sustainability of the built environment with special emphasis on Residential applications.
  2. Sustainable industrial applications.
  3. sustainable energy production.

Research plan for the work in the residential area has already been formulated, (Residential Energy Efficiency Research). Plans for work in other areas are under development.Current work and partners:We are currently working on projects aimed at reducing the energy signature of the Dubai build environment, we are investigating the implementation of alternative energy technology into the building envelope and in extreme climates, we study water conservation, present public sustainability information, and we are interested in the study of the rapidly growing field of E Mobility and its deployment in the region.Our partners include EMAL (www.emal.com), Emirates Green Building Council, Al-Mulk Holding, Gulf Aluminum Council, to name a few.Proposals have already been forwarded to EMAL and others for research opportunities in the sustainability field. To emphasize the international element of RIT-D research strategy, a number of the proposals are submitted in collaboration with RIT-NY and other institutions researchers.EMAL and the Gulf Aluminum Council have approved the sponsorship of RIT-D organized international Symposium on Sustainable Energy: Aluminum sector. This conference is part of RIT-D strategy to enhance research and innovation in one of the main areas that is identified for RIT-D which is Energy and sustainability.Contacts:For further information on the research, collaboration, etc., please contact: Dr. Ghalib Kahwaji, 04-371-20058 or write to gykcad@rit.edu. The Residential Efficiency researchA sizable percentage of the recently built units in Dubai, especially family housing, are built in a manner that contributes to serious environmental impacts due to excessive consumption of energy and water. This close connection between buildings and environmental impacts is due to the energy intensive designs and solutions employed in constructing the buildings and catering for their air conditioning, lighting and other needs. Moreover, such resources intensive dwellings often fail to continue performing at their design/ commissioning levels due to maintenance and operating costs issues which, in turn, results in deteriorating living environment for the occupants. These serious resource performance and resources wasting problems are still seen in Dubai despite the realm of energy and water conservation regulations issued by the government of Dubai, examples are the AD77 and The AR66 which regulates the building structure properties as well as the 2007 and 2011 Green Building Regulations.Achieving Sustainable Family Housing is feasible; however, it is not a copy paste process from other nation’s experiences. It is rather an integrated process that should target the basic elements of sustainable living environment, which are;

  • The building envelope and systems performance,
  • The building internal living environment,
  • The building impact on the surrounding environment during both the construction and operation phases, and
  • The public awareness about observing the importance of sustainable environment.

And try to obtain locally acceptable and feasible solutions.Objectives:The RIT Residential Energy Efficiency focused research is intended to promote sustainable family housing in the United Arab Emirates. To achieve this task, the sustainability research group at RIT has devised a research working plan to arrive at a total solution to the problem through addressing each and every field of those mentioned above in an integrated manner. The plan, sketched in Fig. 1, has both short and long term components as will be briefed below.Research tools:Five different, yet inter-related tools were identified/ selected to pursue the goal of the research. Those are:

  1. A research Lab/ Unit that will serve as a source for actual data collection and a testing facility for different building materials, energy systems and control strategies. This lab has already been established and will be used by the faculty/ students, grad. And UG to perform their research.
  2. A building survey tool that will serve to collect information and characterize the past and present building procedures. This data will then be studied to identify points of strength in past building practices and propose a method for reinstating them in today’s building procedures and also to identify where today’s building practices went wrong and come up with solutions for them.
  3. A market evaluation tool that will serve to collect data and analyze the present construction materials, construction practices, and locally available energy systems. This will form the bases for studying the impact of these items on the environment and propose alternatives to correct negative impacts that hinder the sustainable environment.
  4. A community outreach tool which comprises a web site, publications and media programs aiming at:raising the public awareness about sustainability in family housing, raising the construction industry awareness about energy and water efficient construction materials, systems and practices.
  5. And, finally, research and scholarship funding to support graduate students who will participate in the research and forms the nucleus for future research in the area and to buy equipment, software and pay for the cost of community outreach and other activities mentioned above.

Research fields:The above mentioned tools are expected to supply information for research that will contribute to furthering the sustainability knowledge and practices in the four basic elements of: building performance, living environment, environmental impact and public knowledge. The knowledge areas/ research fields expected to be covered while working on this project are:

  1. Building and systems design tools and practices,
  2. Sustainable construction materials, especially those of local origins,
  3. Efficient building energy and water systems,
  4. Building characterization,
  5. Scheduling, controls and occupant behavior, and
  6. Construction practices.