As a sustainable city that is powered 100% by renewables and that recycles 100% of wastewater on site, Sharjah Sustainable City (SSC) will operate on a range of sophisticated technologies and solutions, both at the individual unit level and across the project as a whole.
Located at Sharjah’s Umm Fannain, Al Rahmaniya area, the city is a joint venture between Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) and Diamond Developers to meet the highest sustainability standards. The partnership was sealed in March 2018 during an MoU signing ceremony between Shurooq and Diamond Developers.
In a conversation with Yousif Ahmed Al-Mutawa, chief executive officer of Sharjah Sustainable City, on the maintenance routine at Sharjah Sustainable City, he says: “The project will involve a number of requirements beyond what your traditional real-estate development project would have. Matters such as the cleaning of solar panels, maintenance of sophisticated home automation and HVAC technologies, energy management and more will come into play.”
Al-Mutawa says that they are still in the process of identifying suitable technology partners, the latest of which was an agreement signed with Hager Group, a global leader in renewable energy storage, in which Sharjah Sustainable City will be the first community in the region to give residents access to a renewable energy storage solution.
The agreement formalizes an ongoing relationship with the German company to test and deploy the latest technologies and innovations in demand management and smart energy solutions.
Al-Mutawa added: “Our maintenance routines will be based on the technology sharing and service-level agreements established with these technology partners, as well as the day-to-day management of the project with regards to areas such as landscaping, maintenance, sanitation and so on.”
Talking specifically about solar PV maintenance, he says: “One of the most important elements to solar panel maintenance, especially in the UAE climate which can feature a lot of humidity and dust, is regular cleaning, as the build-up of dust will reduce the amount of sunlight absorbed by the panels. In the cleaning process, it’s important not to use harsh materials or abrasive cleaning products that may damage the surface of the solar panels and reduce their efficiency.”
“They also require the regular maintenance of all thermal-based components and circuitry, as well as consistent monitoring to identify any drop in efficiency or energy production and troubleshoot the issue.”
In addition, the solar panels will be connected to the energy management systems of the homes they are installed in, which will include the energy storage solutions we mentioned previously, all of which will have to be regularly maintained through O&M contracts with teams of qualified technicians. He said: “Maintaining all of these systems at peak efficiency will be key to delivering the energy savings we are targeting for our homeowners.”
Al-Mutawa reveals that FM was an integral part of the feasibility study from the very outset, and was factored in from the conceptualization and design stage right through to the construction phases. Sustainable communities require the proper FM infrastructure to deliver on their sustainability objectives and cater to the entire development, including both mixed-use and residential buildings.
SSC uses water-saving fittings in all kitchens, washrooms and irrigation systems throughout the project. The project has also used energy and water-efficient appliances in the residential units to reduce consumption.
In addition, an onsite Sewage Treatment Plant to treat wastewater will produce Treated Sewage Effluent for landscape irrigation, achieving 100% water recycling, and avoiding emissions associated with tankers.
The villa orientation at SSC avoids the sun and maximizes shading, so all south-facing facades are closed to reduce heat gains. Al-Mutawa said: “We also have highly insulated UV reflective walls, while roofs and windows reduce air-conditioning loads, electricity power consumption, and operational carbon. For outdoors, we use pavers with high Solar Reflective Index (SRI) to reduce heat gains and reduce thermal discomfort.
“To give some context, the current Green Building Regulations and Specifications (in Dubai) require an insulation value (U) of 0.30 for roofs, 0.57 for walls, and 2.10 for glazing. In Sharjah Sustainable City, we will achieve insulation values of 0.18 for roofs, 0.26 for walls and 1.20 for glazing. Our design can achieve impressive results and will significantly reduce the carbon footprint of the community. Smart home automation and energy-efficient HVAC, electrical fittings and appliances also reduce energy consumption, and solar PV cells are installed on all villa rooftops and built-up areas to achieve an offset of up to 50% on energy usage, thus reducing carbon emissions. With the addition of efficient water saving appliances and fittings, the residential properties of SSC are projected to deliver savings of up to 50% on electricity and water bills for residents.”
In conclusion, Al-Mutawa adds that maintaining all of the sophisticated renewable energy, energy management and home automation systems in the residential units will be crucial to maximizing the energy efficiency of the homes and reducing the carbon footprint of the development, which was a core objective from the very outset.
“In addition, maintaining the aesthetic appeal and the quality of the community facilities will be key to delivering the holistic and aspirational lifestyle that we are promising homebuyers in Sharjah Sustainable City. Therefore, I can say that the facilities management of Sharjah Sustainable City will be one of the most crucial elements to the project.”