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Tue 29 Jul 2008 02:58 PM

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Renewed thinking

The unveiling of the 80-storey 360° rotating Dynamic Tower project in Dubai has received plenty of press coverage over the past few weeks.

The unveiling of the Dynamic Tower project has received much press coverage over the past few weeks. The immediate excitement garnered around the fact that each floor of this proposed 80-storey tower is intended to rotate independently by 360°.

Whether this is achievable in practice however is questionable and scant detail has yet to be released that would confirm the reality of such a scheme. From an MEP perspective, the challenges faced on a project of this form would be immense. Just how do you ensure that basic services such as power, water supply and air conditioning are available 24/7, while not interfering with the rotational aspect of the building?

Much work would be needed to confirm the basic operation of each system. And that’s before the removal of system clashes and outlining of installation procedures could even begin. However there is one aspect of the mooted building design that is interesting, regardless of the project’s final success: the intention to supply the majority of power for the project by the use of renewable energy sources.

A mix of wind and solar technologies have been proposed, with the architect’s aim being to provide enough electricity from these sources to both rotate the floors and serve the tenants’ supply. Again, the effectiveness of the design and efficiency of such systems is questionable, but for MEP professionals, the fact that high-profile architectural projects are now including renewable technologies as the primary energy source is a major development. It’s also one that should make everyone working in the sector sit up and take notice.

There are several projects now at design stage or underway that are intended to be operated at least partially by renewable energy. This development is partly in response to the region’s increased focus on sustainable and green building. It is also being pushed forward by a lack of traditional electricity sources as the gap between available mains supplies and demand from an increased number of buildings gets ever smaller.

Increased electricity tariffs are making products such as photovoltaics more cost-effective, with payback periods dropping in relation to traditional alternatives. And product development by manufacturers will mean that an increasing number of options will reach the marketplace over the next few years.

The combination of these factors mean that if you have not yet designed or installed a building’s MEP systems that feature some aspect of renewable power, you can be sure that you will in the not too distant future.

Alison Luke is the editor of Mechanical Electrical Plumbing Middle East.

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