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THE USE OF PASSIVE COOLING STRATEGIES IN DUBAI MOVING TOWARDS SUSTAINABILITY MAHMOUD A. HAGGAG, UAE UNIVERSITY email@example.com ABSTRACT Hot and humid climates, such as those in Dubai, generate unique challenges to architects and engineers, seeking for passive cooling approaches to reduce energy consumption in buildings. They are collaborating to design new buildings that are energy efficient, environmentally friendly, and architecturally glossy. Passive cooling techniques are highly energy efficient and can be considered as a good alternative to mechanical cooling systems. The cost and energy effectiveness of these techniques are worth considering not only by builders but also by buildings' occupants. Sustainable buildings that are passively designed take advantage of natural energy flows to maintain thermal comfort, reduce cooling costs, and reduce greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Despite the fact that Dubai is one of the hottest cities in the Gulf region, the use of glazed facades in modern buildings has gained increasing popularity throughout the city. Builders, owners, and occupants like the idea of good views, a pleasant indoor environment, and building's prestige. These strategies usually come with an increased operational cost due to the higher solar gain which increases the airconditioning cost. In many parts of the world, the design of passive cooling systems has been used to overcome this major disadvantage of using glazed facades. Passive cooling design is already recognized in the traditional architectural fabric of old Dubai (Bastikia and Shindagha districts). It is also applied to a few modern buildings within the new urban development such as Madinat Jumeirah. This paper attempts to reduce energy consumptions in buildings by adopting passive cooling strategies in the modern building process in Dubai. Based on the lessons of experiences which can be learned from the traditional architectural ideologies, three passive cooling strategies are investigated in the study: natural ventilation, thermal mass and shading strategies. Keywords: sustainable development; passive cooling; energy efficient; Dubai.
INTRODUCTION Dubai has undergone a reorientation from federal city to international node in the global network. The architectural ideologies of Dubai have moved from a traditional pattern to modern development. The traditional fabric reflects architectural and planning ideologies of the pre-modern era. This pattern, responding to the hot climate, was characterized by high-density buildings, narrow shaded alleys, courtyards, small windows, and wind-towers. The alleys tended to run from north to south and ended at the creek, permitting the prevailing winds to pass through. Modern architectural ideologies have been recognized during the second half the 19th century with fast urban development. The character of traditional buildings has been changed completely. Dubai became one of the most modern and global cities, boasting the highest glass tower in the world (Burj Dubai). The city is currently constructing superlative mega-projects including the man-made residential islands (the Palms), the world project (300 artificial islands), the man-made Arabian Canal (new communities), Dubai Land (an entertainment, retail, and sports project), Falcon City of wonders (a commercial, residential, educational, and entertainment project), and Dubai Metro project . The trend for such urban development has a major consequence on levels of energy consumption and its impact on the urban environment. Minimizing the impact of urban development on the natural environment and the use of passive solar strategies are the main concern of
which was designed and built in an ecological and resource-efficient manner. and sometimes falling to as low as 9◦C at night . boasting the highest skyline in the Middle East with 12 buildings over 305 metres .5 million people. the industrial centre. The fast urban development that followed the 1971 UAE federation and the discovery of oil completely changed the character of the city from traditional architectural fabric to modern style. expected to reach 3 million in 2020 . the second largest of the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) after Abu Dhabi. This pattern is characterized by high-density buildings. The strength of the Dubai economy is boosted mainly by the ports and national resources such as petroleum and natural gas. within a sub-region of the northern desert belt. It is characterized by scarce rainfall and high levels for temperature. Attention is given to the principles of green architecture. The demography of the city comprises a varied mix of nationalities and cultures. Focusing on the climatic conditions of Dubai. The study findings show that sustainable building practices in terms of cooling load reductions have been acknowledged not only in the traditional buildings of old Dubai. an enormous project. the Free Zone. and new Dubai. and spatial expansion and economic growth. Metro Dubai and other projects have increased trade activities and accelerated open-door policies of urbanization. The rapid transformation of Dubai and its wider urban region during the last few decades demands greater critical analysis. Jabal Ali Industrial Center. Three issues motivate this transformation. the weather is very hot and humid with daytime temperatures ranging from 35◦C to 49◦C. Building industry and urban fabric had been strongly affected by two factors. and the locally available building materials. Much urban development. with its hot climate. The modern approach. with its traditional ideologies. the case study of this paper. the cultures and customs of the residents. The traditional fabric reflects three dominant factors: the climatic condition. and passive cooling strategies. narrow shaded alleys. was constructed. The architectural ideologies in Dubai have been moved from a traditional vernacular style to a modern approach. has become one of the most modern cities in the world. Persian and British. In 1972. humidity and sunshine. including population increase. First: the importing of building materials and the establishment of foreign factories in the city. the paper attempts to reduce energy consumption and increase occupants' comfort by adopting passive techniques. Dubai has the largest population in the UAE with about 1. The city started its urbanization process in the late 18th century with a small fishing and trading village in the Arabian Gulf. "Rashed Port". "Jabal Ali". Second: planning organization was based mainly on occidental codes and dominated by foreign professionals . In winter. A few years later. The first and most important theme is the Emirate of Dubai as an international trading center "global city". is situated 25 degrees north and 55 degrees east. It is divided into two parts: old Dubai. was built and become the biggest man-made harbor in the world and a chief tourist destination and port in Dubai. including Rashid Port. HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE Dubai. courtyard houses and wind-towers. This 2 . was concerned with highly specialized building techniques. Dubai. with its modern architecture. which was established during the second half of the 20th century. but also in some recent projects such as Madinat Jumeirah. Dubai and its Urban Development Dubai has been significantly shaped by various imported ideologies: Arab.Ecocity World Summit 2008 Proceedings the study. sustainable energy. The second motivation concerns the dramatic nature of the city development. In summer time. The third theme is the emerging status of the city as an urban region. the daytime temperatures range from 25◦C to 35◦C.
and the Gold Market. the new centre of Dubai (see figure 2).000 people located in the centre of Jumeirah). Windows on the exterior walls are limited to narrow slits and semi-decorative openings which admit light and accelerate natural ventilation for the house. with its modern architectural style lies mainly on Sheikh Zayed Road. Old Dubai Figure 1: Traditional urban fabric of old Dubai  New Dubai. including Dubai Marina (a master planned community for 40. a) Shindagha District. The living quarters of the house open on to the main courtyard to generate wind circulation around the rooms. Bur Dubai contains the oldest traditional districts like Bastikia (1910). Another characteristic of the traditional townscape was that the buildings tended to be very closely clustered together separated by narrow lanes running from north to south to permit the prevailing winds to pass through. which provide natural cooling system to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature (see figure 1).Ecocity World Summit 2008 Proceedings modern style is highly recognized within the new central area of Dubai. is a typical example of the traditional architecture in Dubai (see figure 3). and Shindagha (1896). tall wind-towers (Barajils). Figure 2: Urban development of Sheikh Zayed Road (December 2007) Sheik Saeed Al-Maktoum House. and Madinat Jumeirah (the largest modern resort in Dubai). Windows are mostly on the inside looking in towards the courtyard. and courtyards. Old Dubai lies on the trip of a small line of salty water extending inland from the Creek. it was converted into a Museum of Historical Photography and Documents of Dubai. allow the passage of cool breezes. and provide privacy. The windtowers were the most distinctive architectural elements of the house. It was the former ruler’s residence (1912–1958). The wooden ventilating screens (Mashrabbia) were also used to keep out the sun. This fabric is characterized by narrow shaded alleys. Most of the rooms are provided with a shaded verandah overlooking the courtyard. A number of enormous megaprojects have been constructed. built in 1896. They were designed to trap the wind from any direction then direct it through a hollow shaft to the indoor space 3 . They have four open sides. which divides Dubai historical area into west side "Bur Dubai" and east side "Deira". AlRas residential areas. Deira contains the Great Souk (1920). old Dubai b) Bastikia District. In 1986. Emirates Mall (one of the largest shopping malls in the world).
are essential in cities like Dubai in order to adapt environmentally friendly conditions. The house was built from local high mass materials including coral stone. while the costs of building green are overestimated. buildings consume about 45% of total energy use.Ecocity World Summit 2008 Proceedings below. has negative impacts on the environmental aspects including environmental deterioration. These figures are even higher in Dubai . Sustainable development could be achieved by architects. it has been listed on the top in consuming energy per capita . removal of artificial barriers to commerce. plaster. 70% of total electricity consumption. which is rapidly experienced in Dubai. Sustainable development refers to a socio-ecological process characterized by the fulfillment of human needs while maintaining the quality of the natural environment. and about 40% of total carbon dioxide emissions . Figure 3: Sheik Saeed Al-Maktoum House. Therefore sustainable building practices. Dubai has been listed as one of the highest per capita fossil fuel consumption and carbon dioxide generation. engineers. Achieving sustainable development means: developing new forms of multilateral cooperation. Despite that fact. and expanding global trade . Such materials have adequate thermal storage which responds to the needs of the climate. and high level of air pollution. Meanwhile. and 4 . Such systems incorporate operable windows to increase the airflow inside the house. In the developed countries. Minimizing this impact on the natural environment and the efforts to improve the ecological performance of any project are the main concerns of sustainable building development during and after construction period . and palm fronds. sustain their building practices in term of energy consumption?" TOWARDS SUSTAINABILITY The concept of sustainability states that there is a need to improve the living conditions of the present generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. like Dubai. the environmental impact of buildings is often underestimated. Dubai The trend of urban development. lime. Wind-towers take advantage of natural ventilation to bring fresh cooling air through the house without mechanical systems. extension and sharing of new technologies. The main question could be asked is: "how could cities with rapid urban development. Thus. energy efficiency. Shindagha. designers. and the protection of biodiversity are the key issues. 25% of total water consumption. healthy environment. high consumption level of non-renewable recourses. in term of energy consumption. increasing international development. town planners.
thermal mass. materials selection and mechanical systems to reduce heating and cooling loads. a reflective waterproof coating is essential. Landscape and outdoor spaces also play an important role in passive cooling strategies. including reflecting heat. Passive solar design also helps conserve valuable fossil fuel resources and reduces greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. passive solar design can be effective. To minimize the energy loads. walls. The use of reflective window coatings can also reduce the heat gain by about 35% . To minimize the effect of radiant energy. providing suitable insulation. and sunlight in a cold climate. and other products that are reusable and renewable. Another way to reflect heat is to install a radiant barrier on the underside of the roof. recycled material. operated. blocking the heat. Green Building or Green Architecture is an approach to architectural design that emphasizes the place of buildings within both local ecosystems and the global environment. Vegetation. using high performance glazing that reduce heat gain and admit natural light. buildings are often designed to capture cool winds. Effective green buildings require careful attention to the full life cycle impact of resources. Moreover. and windows (heat gain). and removing built-up heat . Combining proper ventilation. PASSIVE COOLING STRATEGIES A natural passive cooling system is an option to sustain a cool building and reduce air conditioning costs. incorporating adequate shading devices that prevent solar radiation. passive solar design of the building envelope might comprise the following concerns: orienting more windows to the north. Many of these valuable strategies are employed in the traditional architecture of old Dubai. and passive solar techniques . renovated. shading devices. About 30% of the unwanted heat comes in through the building roof. where cooling is a primary concern. and more than 40% comes in through windows . design. operation and maintenance. while reducing building impact on human health and the environment through better siting. construction. solar radiation and wind. 5 . A similar concept is natural building which tends to focus on the use of natural materials. to create climateresponsive. To prevent it. specific strategies should be applied. The use of sun-coating films is one solution for hot climates since they can reflect as much as 80% of the incoming sunlight . such as temperature. This can reduce heat gains by about 25% . wind-towers. or reused in an ecological and resource efficient manner. and insulations can reduce energy loads for cooling. The most important step in the passive cooling process is to develop an energy efficient building envelope to minimize heat gains and to catch cooling breezes. Green building is the practice of increasing energy efficiency. Depending on the climatic condition.Ecocity World Summit 2008 Proceedings manufacturers of building products working cooperatively to produce green buildings that are designed. The most effective method to cool the building is to keep the heat from building up in the first place. renewable recourses. The primary source is sunlight absorbed through the roof. energy conserving structures that can be powered with renewable energy resources . Low impact building materials should be used wherever feasible. water ponds and fountains are efficient elements in the cooling techniques. insulation may be made from low volatile organic compounds rather than building insulation materials that may contain toxic materials . In Dubai's hot climate. It uses non-mechanical techniques to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature. coral stone. one of the key issues of sustainable architecture. Masonry building materials with high thermal mass are efficient for retaining the cool temperatures of night throughout the day. built. courtyards. The most important characteristic of passive solar design is that it relies on the integration of a building's architecture. incorporating thermally massive building materials. It is important to orient the building to take advantage of cooling breezes in a hot climate. Building materials. Reducing energy loads is another issue for green architecture. for instance. Light-colored surfaces effectively reflect most of the heat. should be "green" and obtained from local sources including rapidly renewable plant materials like palm fronds and bamboo. It takes into consideration local climate conditions. much can be done to capture natural breezes to keep buildings cool and comfortable.
keep sunlight out. Wall insulation is not so important as roof insulation because of differences in outdoor temperature between roof and wall. However. vertical overhang panels placed alongside windows can accelerate the natural air flow due to pressure differences. and landscaping are good strategies to block the heat and keep the indoor temperature cooler. which may improve thermal comfort conditions in the enclosed as well as the attached built volume. Exterior shading devices are more effective since they block sunlight before it enters windows. insulation. well-placed trees can provide effective shade. Figure 4: The role of courtyards and wind-towers in the cooling passive strategies The courtyard is a common architectural feature and is considered as a microclimate modifier. During the day. spreadout buildings. when closed. This strategy only works when the inside temperature is higher than outside temperature. Awning devices. and exterior walls air is important issue to keep the indoor space cool. The shape. Shutters. a building designed for passive cooling would be as open as possible to ensure the maximum possible cross ventilation . The wind-tower is another dramatic device for using the cooling potential of the available breezes. Wind-tower.Ecocity World Summit 2008 Proceedings Shading. The spacing of buildings should be carefully considered to avoid obstruction of the wind. Insulation helps seal and protects buildings against the heat. reduce glare. Most of these air leaks can be achieved through weather-stripping and caulking. Using wing-walls. and branch spread are factors to consider in choosing the right type of tree. The slats can be vertical (on the eastern and western windows) or horizontal (on the southern windows). can reduce heat gain by up to 65% on southern windows and 77% on eastern windows . louver devices. Natural ventilation helps remove heat and maintains indoor temperatures close to outdoor temperature. and block light without blocking the view or eliminating the air-flow. north and south walls should have enough windows to allow cross ventilation. East and west walls should have a minimum of windows or none at all in order to exclude the low angle sun-rays. shading can reduce indoor temperatures by 10◦C . Stopping air penetration around poorly sealed doors. which is the key element in the traditional architecture of Dubai. which are usually attached above the windows and extend down and out. windows. Cross ventilation can also be enhanced by irregular-shaped. both exterior and interior devices. Effective shading can be provided by trees and shading devices. Solar screens keep direct sunlight from entering the windows. In most cases. is the most important place to start insulating. The courtyard provides thermal environmental conditions through its design concept. Floor insulation has little and sometimes no effect on cooling. The upper roof. Shading devices. They include awnings devices. 6 . height. In hot-humid climates. A thermal chimney can also be used to ensure ventilation by creating a warm zone with an exterior outlet. control heat gain. growth rate. shutters. Shading is a key issue in any passive cooling strategy. which is the major source of heat gain. Louver devices can be adjusted to control the level of the sunlight entering the windows. As part of the landscape design. forms and heights. is a vertical shaft with vents on top to lead the desired wind to the indoor spaces (see figure 4). and solar screens. but they block the light.
pools. adjacent to Burj Al-Arab Hotel. and Jumeirah Beach Hotel. It reflects the rich cultural heritage of Dubai and resembles an ancient Arabian architectural style. 5-c and 5-d). primarily by radiation to the cool. and a private beach. Madinat Jumeirah has been designed by an international multidisciplinary design firm (Creative Kingdom) and developed by Mirage Mille.Ecocity World Summit 2008 Proceedings the shading arcades. It has a series of canals and lakes flowing between the buildings. create more pleasant indoor spaces. but also reduce running cost. Wild Water Park. The project was designed and built in an ecological and resource-efficient manner. 5-a) Al-Qasr Hotel 5-b) Mina Al-Salam Hotel 5-c) Dar Al-Masyaf (courtyard summer houses) 7 . trees. Nearly 4km of waterway runs through the entire complex. 5-b. a traditional souk and cultural village. Madinat Jumeirah comprises two 300 room hotels (Al-Qasr and Mina Al-Salam). The outstanding architectural concept of Madinat Jumeirah was based on a theme of old Dubai in a luxurious context. the largest resort in Dubai. clear night sky. The combination of green design techniques used in the project will not only reduce energy consumption and environmental impact. courtyard summer houses (Dar Al-Masyaf). Madinat Jumeirah forms a virtual island looking down upon wind-towers. a Conference and Banqueting Centre. was constructed in 2004 and situated in the heart of new Dubai. and recreational and health facilities (see figures 5-a. The night time radiation cools the mass and the air trapped in the courtyard. meandering waterways with traditional water taxis (abbras). MADINAT JUMEIRAH Madinat Jumeirah (City of Jumeirah). A massive courtyard floor surrounded by a building provides cooling. and the cool mass in the courtyard floor absorbs a significant amount of solar radiation (see figure 4). improve occupants' health. and reduce pollution and legal liability. and vegetation protect the building from direct solar gain. courtyard houses.
and re-release thermal energy. natural ventilation. Minimizing the impact of urban development on the natural environment and the trend to improve the ecological performance of buildings are the main concerns of the sustainable building practices in the city. natural ventilation. which is considered among the unique projects to maintain the new vision of Dubai. like ”Creative Kingdom" and "Mirage Mille" have already incorporated ecological and sustainable approaches in their designs. These strategies include proper shading. bricks. dense materials like concrete. Design strategies that minimize the need for mechanical cooling systems were adapted. and courtyards that have been adapted to enhance the stack effect and to speed the indoor air flow. careful siting and orientation decisions. East and west windows are limited and the majority of them are north-facing windows to reduce direct solar gain. wind-towers. however they allow the low winter sun to enter the windows. and architecturally remarkable. The wind-tower. Buildings were designed to take advantage of natural ventilation which uses the passive stack effect and pressure differential to bring fresh cooling air through buildings with limited or no mechanical systems. Vegetation. thermal mass. and good landscaping. They help achieve desirable thermal environmental conditions not by mechanical devices but by architectural design (form. This strategy increases comfort and reduces energy consumption by moderating internal temperatures by average day/night extremes. - - CONCLUSION Recent ongoing developments in Dubai have consequences on the urban environment. Madinat Jumeirah. floor covers and landscaping). Trees and vegetation are properly located and used for shading. use of atriums. the overhangs block the high sun. and landscaping) Various concepts and techniques were used to design and develop energy-efficient buildings and cooling load avoidance in Madinat Jumeirah. has been used to increase the air flow in buildings. courtyards. pools and canals around buildings contribute to an evaporative cooling strategy. These ideologies have been acknowledged by international architectural firms to design and construct new projects that are energy efficient. thermal mass. External insulated. is a significant development regarding sustainable practices 8 . Other features include fresh air inlets located near floor level. store.Ecocity World Summit 2008 Proceedings 5-d) The Souk (market) Figure 5: the use of passive cooling strategies in Madinat Jumeirah (shading devises. materials. Many architects and developers. an effective device for natural ventilation. Courtyards have been used not only to improve indoor comfort but also to provide a pleasant outdoor environment. They are carefully designed to allow the sun to penetrate only during determined times of the year. including operable windows. and other masonry covered with plaster have been used in passive design to absorb. Some of these strategies are described below: Fixed shading devices are installed mainly on the south-facing windows. This strategy has been adapted by incorporating different means of outdoor air intake. In the summer. environmental friendly.
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