Interviews

Born LEEDer

Esab Group managing director Johan Frannson downplays building one of the Middle East’s only commercial buildings rated as LEED Platinum, saying it was all “pretty straightforward”

Established in the region since 1981 and internationally since 1904, environmental issues are embedded in Esab Group’s culture, according to managing director Johan Fransson.

But the company — which produces consumables and equipment for welding and cutting processes — took its sustainable agenda to a new level recently with the launch of a new US Green Building Council-accredited LEED Platinum manufacturing facility in Jebel Ali South Zone, Dubai, having outgrown its previous regional headquarters there. So what did it take to achieve the highest LEED rating for a green building?

“We started the feasibility study in 2006 and got the green light to go ahead with the project in 2007. The LEED system was a good guideline for the sustainable design of the building. Construction started at the end of 2008 and took just over a year to complete,” he says.

While Fransson declines to reveal how much the initial investment of the facility cost, he says annual energy consumption has been reduced by 60-70% and the group expects to see a return on investment within five years.

Not rocket science

And this has been achieved with a lot of technological solutions that have been used many times before, according to Fransson.

“We haven’t built a spacecraft; it’s a straightforward building that is very practical.”

In fact, many of the solutions used are already incorporated as standard in more developed European construction markets.

Some of these include: properly insulating the building with 100mm insulation in the walls and 200mm on the roof, incorporating heat-reflective windows and implementing a number of lighting-management solutions and energy-saving controls.

“We have put motion sensors on the lights that are sensitive to movements and daylight.”

Furthermore, 1500 solar tubes have been implemented on the roof, creating energy to heat water, which is then pushed through a heat exchanger to create cool water that can be converted to cold air and used for cooling the building’s structure.

While the facility still features a conventional air-conditioning system, the system required is significantly smaller.

“This also results in a nicer indoor climate because you don’t have noisy air-conditioning units, the room temperature is stable and the level of indoor air quality is better.

“The environmental improvements make the staff happy and me happy because they save money,” he adds.

The group made maintenance of the site as automatic as possible, he explains, and has also invested in an extensive maintenance agreement for the first year.

“Being sustainable feels good, makes sense and it is supported by sound payback,” Fransson concludes.

How Esab achieved LEED Platinum

APPLIED TECHNOLOGIES

– 1500 solar tubes on the roof

– Chemical heat or cold conversion

– Hollow core structure cooling

– Wind-driven ventilation fans

– Onsite water recycling

– Lighting management

– Concrete sandwich panels in external walls

– Reflective coating on all horizontal surfaces

AIR-CONDITIONING

– Solar panels generate hot water

– Hot water converted to cold water in climate well units

– Cold water fed to air-handling units to create cold air

– Cold air fed through hollow core slabs in building structure

– Resulting in cooling building interior

ONSITE WATER RECYCLING

– Fresh water stored onsite for domestic and fire-fighting use

– Domestic waste water processed on site

– Recycled water used for toilet flush and irrigation

– Excess, if any, dispatched offsite

– Shortage, if any, topped up from DEWA mains

RAINWATER

– Permeable interlocking

– Rainwater dispersing pits

– Elevated warehouse

HEAT

– Green Wall thermal insulation

– ThermoShield heat deflection

– RAK Windows heat deflection

LIGHTS

– Building Management System (BMS) lighting controls implemented

– Motion detectors and timers

– Outside light sets interior intensity

– Lights default to ‘off’ setting

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