First energy-efficient house likely next year

November 19, 2012 - 4:55:46 am

Essa Al Mohannadi, Chairman, Qatar Green Building Council; Essa Hilal Al Kuwari, Chairman, Kahramaa and Abdullah Abdul Aziz T Al Subaidi, CEO, signing a Memorandum of Understanding to develop the Qatar Case Study Passivhaus project at the Four Seasons Hotel, yesterday. Abdul Basit

by Fazeena Saleem 

DOHA: Qatar is expected to have its first energy-efficient ‘passive house’ early next year, with the Qatar Green Building Council partnering with Barwa Real Estate company and Kahramaa to launch this groundbreaking experiment in the region’s green building industry.

A passive house (Passivhaus in German) boasts an ultra low energy, airtight building design that requires little energy for space cooling, reducing its environmental footprint.

The three partners yesterday jointly announced the first Passivhaus project in the country, named Baytna (our home) in Arabic. A Memorandum of Understanding was also signed to develop the Qatar Case Study Passivhaus project at the Four Seasons Hotel. 

Two houses will be built side by side near the Barwa Village in Mesaimer under the project- a passivhaus villa and a conventional villa to compare their energy usage and environmental footprint. 

The conventional villa will be built to one-star rating of the Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS) developed in Qatar while the country’s first passivhaus will bear all the comforts of modern dwelling and consume at least 50 per cent less energy, water and operational carbon dioxide. Construction of the 225 sqm villas is expected to complete by January next year and the two houses will be occupied by similarly-sized families, with at least one child. 

“The project aims at educating the public about the concept of a Passivhaus. It will foster discussions about green living and sustainable practices for the public to implement in their daily lives and raise Qatar’s profile in the field of sustainable and green building,” said Ahmad Abdullah, Deputy Group CEO, Barwa Real Estate, presenting the project. 

“Qatar Green Building Council is extending great support to this initiative which is a main pillar of the energy saving campaign in Qatar, along with a number of other consultancy firms, researchers and contractors whom we wouldn’t have been able to achieve current progress,” he added. 

Testing and commissioning of the houses are expected to end by March 2013. Energy, potable water and solid waste will be monitored for six months before occupation, and the two families are expected to move into the three-bed room villas by mid-2013. At a later stage, the project will be handed over to Kahramaa.

Occupants will inhabit the houses with no prior training of how to minimise energy and water consumption and with no prior education about the environmental principles that underline the development of the experiment. After a period of monitoring to establish a regular base for energy and water consumption patterns, an intense educational and operational training package will be delivered to both families.

The project will work to obtain Passivhaus Building Certification and GSAS Certificate and establish the benchmark for all future buildings in Qatar. Texas A&M University in Qatar, Siemens, AECOM, Global Sustainability System and EPS Qatar also has joined the project as scientific partners. 

The passive house concept remains the same for all of the world’s climates. A building fulfilling the passive house standard will look much different from area to area. The number of Passivhaus buildings around the world as of August 2010 was approximately 25,000. The vast majority of passive structures have been built in German-speaking countries and Scandinavia. The Peninsula