Following the successful completion of a pilot project to retrofit eight government buildings

The Abu Dhabi Department of Energy (DoE) has announced the completion of the Emirate’s first Energy Saving Performance Contracting (ESPC) pilot project encompassing eight retrofitted government buildings.

The Building Retrofit programme is a part of Abu Dhabi’s Demand Side Management and Energy Rationalisation Strategy 2030, which aims for a 22% reduction in energy consumption and a 32% reduction in water consumption over the next decade.

One of the nine key programmes of the DSM strategy, building retrofitting aims for significant cost savings, system reliability and environmental benefits, in line with the vision of Abu Dhabi and UAE’s national strategies for sustainability.

Building Retrofit aims to improve energy efficiency in the buildings while generating savings and reducing costs to building owners, tenants and the government. Eight government buildings including Abu Dhabi Distribution Company (ADDC), Abu Dhabi Transmission and Despatch Company (TRANSCO), Al Ain Distribution Company (AADC), and Emirates Water and Electricity Company (EWEC), participated in the retrofitting project to study energy efficiency by introducing a number of energy conservation measures.

As part of the programme a number of smart energy saving solutions were deployed in the buildings to improve the efficiency of cooling, lighting and water components. The project deployed several technologies such as solar rooftop PV installations, smart meters and thermostats, LED lighting, efficient chillers, new Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) controlled chilled water pumps and innovative chiller evaporative cooling membrane to meet the targeted savings.

Following the success of the pilot and the potential ESPC holds in terms of resource and cost savings, Abu Dhabi aims to retrofit 150 governmental buildings starting this year.

The pilot project is the first for government/public buildings, which follows the ESPC model and utilises private ESCOs to implement energy and water conservation measures. The pilot will not only improve existing building efficiency but also develop the market for ESCO. The project has shown an initial average energy saving of 38% across the eight buildings, and it is expected to have far-reaching economic impact once the ESCO model is adopted across the board.

The first Super ESCO for Abu Dhabi has already been designed to lead retrofitting in 3000 government buildings. This large-scale roll-out through the Super ESCO will act as a market maker and catalyst to drive the Building Retrofit programme across the 3000 buildings in the emirate. The Super ESCO programme is led by an energy performance contracting model, whereby the Super ESCO, which is competitively selected by the facility owner, funds the efficiency improvement and recovers the costs of implementation from the savings in the utility bills.

The ESCO programme has been projected to result in a saving of 2.7 TWh electricity and 9 M cubic meter water over the next decade.

The programme will also be an economic booster for the emirate by creating new business opportunities. It will introduce new companies operating in the field which in turn will create new white-collar jobs in the emirate.

Super ESCO will boost GDP growth for the emirate and attract new players and FDI into the market. Every one million USD invested in the building energy efficiency retrofitting will create 8-11 jobs. It will also increase the value of older buildings and create new financial products as well as improve productivity and reduce healthcare costs among other benefits.

In yet another bid to drive the energy efficiency agenda forward, DoE has issued the Energy Efficiency Policy for Government Buildings to embed a culture of energy conservation deeply within government entities. The government entities will lead by example to nurture a culture of efficient use of electricity and water. The policy mandates government entities to appoint energy champions and teams to lead the drive by setting targets and reporting savings. Each entity will have its own energy champions who will be tasked with defining initiatives and implementing changes within the entity.      

With the idea of making government entities accountable and having greater participation from the staff in driving Abu Dhabi’s sustainability goals, DoE’s Energy Efficiency policy revolves around accountability, implementation and results. Each government entity will be required to make a commitment, assess performance, set goals, create action plan, implement action plan, evaluate progress and recognise achievements and strive to achieve energy efficiency in the emirate.


The policy urges government entities to obtain certification from a well-known energy efficiency programmes, such ISO 50001 and apply for government programmes and awards aimed at achieving energy efficiency.

Collecting consumption data and analysing it is a key component of the new policy. Benchmarks will be established to assess data and its performance and detailed energy audits of each unit will be conducted. The audits will be carried out by an energy professional or an Energy Service Company (ESCO), which will help government entities identify priority areas and work towards greater efficiency.

DoE has updated a list of government entities which will be a part of the framework of these policies. Each entity can establish clear and measurable energy efficiency goals across existing and new buildings.

Commenting on the Building Retrofit project and DoE’s Energy Efficiency Policy for government buildings, H.E. Mohamed Bin Jarsh Alfalasi, Undersecretary of the Abu Dhabi Department of Energy, said: “The Building Retrofit pilot project will pave the way for Abu Dhabi’s Super ESCO, which aims for achieving unprecedented levels of efficiency in the emirate. These are part of our commitment to the DSM Strategy which will impact the future of sustainability in the emirate. The Super ESCO project is an ambitious drive to achieve energy efficiency using a new business model. This project has a two-pronged approach which aims to establish energy efficiency as well as create business opportunities and new jobs in the market.

“The Energy Efficiency Policy for government buildings is a step forward in the direction towards energy efficiency goals set by the DSM Strategy. The Policy encourages government entities to lead by example by adopting habits and practices for efficient use of water and electricity. As we strive to achieve sustainability, these are some of the steps which will lead to a better future.” 

The Energy Efficiency Policy is aligned with the tenets of the Demand Side Management and Energy Rationalisation Strategy 2030 and drives Abu Dhabi’s sustainability agenda towards becoming a more energy efficient green city. 

The 9 core DSM programmes under the strategy include: Building Retrofits, Demand Response, Efficient Water Use and Water Re-use, Building Regulations, Street Lighting, District Cooling, Standards & Labels, Energy Storage, and Rebates & Awareness. The Abu Dhabi Demand Side Management and Energy Rationalization Strategy2030 will provide significant economic, system reliability, and environmental benefits in line with the Abu Dhabi Vision and relevant UAE national strategies. The programme targets 19,000 GWh electricity saving and 480 M cubic meter saving of water by 2030.

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