ME Consultant November 2020

Page 1

JLL on the flexible office market and how it is likely to evolve


MZ Architects on COVID-19, new trends and its expansion plans


Women in Construction: Compass’ Joanna Pierchala




Efficient Engineering

Six experts discuss the benefits of energy modelling, best practices and common misconceptions

Licensed by Dubai Development Authority




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Contents | 01


November 2020 Issue 074

Cover Story

Efficient Engineering

Jason Saundalkar speaks to six regional experts about the rising importance of energy modelling in the region and the benefits it can bring to asset owners, design and engineering teams and, perhaps most importantly, the environment Opinion

Health & Safety Management Socotec GCC’s Leigh Hayman shares insights on health and safety management on regional construction projects and how COVID-19 has begun affecting the market

12 Analysis


The Workplace Reimagined

JLL discusses how flexible office spaces faired in recent years and what may happen in light of the outbreak of COVID-19 November 2020

02 | Contents


Project Profile

Primed and Ready

Angitha Pradeep learns about the elements that set the scene for Finland to expand on its Expo 2020 Dubai theme ‘Sharing Future Happiness’ which focuses on sustainability, happiness and technology

30 Profile

Joanna Pierchala

Jason Saundalkar talks to Joanna Pierchala, project manager at Compass Project Consulting, about her influences, career and gender diversity in the construction industry Interview

Embracing Change MEC sits down with MZ Architects’ François Baho to discuss how the firm has dealt with COVID-19, trends in the market, and its plans for growth in the region and beyond





Monaco Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai gathers pace; Sharjah Ruler opens $272m Kalba Road project; Summertown Interiors completes fit-out of new government office; SEWGA announces upgrade plans for Sharjah utilities; RTA says Al Khawaneej 2 roads project 80% complete November 2020










Hills Estate, Mohammed Bin Rashid City

maar Properties PJSC


T: +971 4 3434 600





DUBAI HQ: Suite 601, Al Hawai Tower, Sheikh Zayed Road, P.O. Box 62256, Dubai, UAE


2015, 2016, 2018 & 2019


04 | Welcome




January 20, 2021 Last month, I used my editor’s letter to talk to you about the forthcoming Middle East Consultant Awards including some of the new categories, tips to submit strong nominations, and I even shared the deadline for nominations, as well as the date of the actual event. Since I penned that letter, we’ve had new information from our hospitality partner and this has unfortunately forced us to move the gala event to January 20, 2021. The upside is because we’ve pushed the event to January, we can now also extend the deadline for nominations – given the sheer number of calls and emails I’ve received over the past few weeks about extensions, I’m sure the new deadline of noon on December 10 will be very much welcome. While we are discussing nominations, I’d like to encourage everyone interested in nominating to checkout the ‘Nomination Guidelines’ on the MEC Awards website (www. This section of the site will answer a lot of the questions you may have about nominations including the information we ask for in the nomination form. Apart from the change of date its business as usual and we’ve even got a couple of events in advance of the Middle East Consultant Awards. Between November 8 and 11, we will November 2020

be hosting the second Women in Construction Summit. Based on feedback from a survey we ran a couple of months ago, we’ve decided to do this event as a virtual event, and we will be following the same format that we used for our Virtual Value Engineering Summit several months ago. The virtual event is free to attend and just requires that you register to watch the various sessions. You can register via the website Following the Virtual Women in Construction Summit, we will also be hosting the next edition of the hotly anticipated Middle East BIM Summit. Once again, we will be doing this as a virtual event between 23 to 25 November. Again, this event is free to watch and just requires registration in advance via the website If you’d like to get involved in the second Women in Construction Summit as a speaker, please get in touch with me on or, if you’d like to participate in the ME BIM Summit, please contact my colleague Gavin Davids on Gavin. We look forward to welcoming you to both virtual events. Until then, stay safe!





The publisher of this magazine has made every effort to ensure the content is accurate on the date of publication. The opinions and views expressed in the articles do not necessarily reflect the publisher and editor. The published material, adverts, editorials and all other content are published in good faith. No part of this publication or any part of the contents thereof may be reproduced, stored or transmitted in any form without the permission of the publisher in writing. Publication licensed by Dubai Development Authority to CPI Trade Publishing FZ LLC. Printed by Al Salam Printing Press LLC. CPI Trade Media. PO Box 13700,

Jason Saundalkar Editor, Middle East Consultant

Dubai, UAE. +971 4 375 5470 © Copyright 2020. All rights reserved.

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06 | On Topic





SB Energy awards GE Renewable Energy windfarm deal


Saudi Arabia launches new 280,000sqm residential community project

PROJECT INSIGHT: The Museum of the Future


Hitches & Glitches launches specialised FM package for mosques


Madayn awards $6.7 million contract for infrastructure works


SWPC invites EoIs for new SWRO desalination plant in Saudi Arabia

November 2020


ANALYSIS: What you need to consider prior to terminating contracts

Enjoyed reading this list (Top 10 technology trends in the construction industry). I’m not sure whether it is in order of importance or not, but for me I would say that the use of big data and cloud computing are probably the technologies likely to have the greatest impact over the next decade. I would also suggest that it is not just the ability to be able to analyse the impact of external factors – such as weather and traffic listed here – during construction that will be essential. Going back to the early stages of construction (even to the decisionmaking behind the precise location of where to build a project or even an entire development) being able to study social and business activity in an area and identify how to plug into existing infrastructure can optimise a project’s likely success. The real trick, however, will be at a city planner’s level where they can better identify the types of projects needed in an area for years to come. There are exciting times ahead. Name withheld by request

8 | On Topic

Expo 2020

Monaco Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai gathers pace



Sharjah Ruler opens $272m Kalba Road project

The external structure of the Principality of Monaco’s pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020 is nearly complete. Monaco has chosen to present the many facets of its national identity inspired by the rock, in the Opportunity district of the Expo site, officials have announced. The pavilion will be connected to Dubai’s grid at the beginning of December, starting the process of supplying the pavilion with energy, until the opening and throughout the event. On the water supply side, the irrigation, drinking water and fire-fighting networks have also been installed and the landscaping is also being finalised, officials explained. Once the core and shell are complete, the pavilion will be closed, tempered and kept under surveillance until it reopens at the end of May 2021. The interior scenography and the various elements making up the stations to be visited will be delivered and installed from June, as will the wastewater treatment system and the air compressor, officials said. Expo 2020 Dubai promises to bring together a world recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic around a common goal: Connecting minds, creating the future, the statement said. The Monaco Pavilion will be keen to demonstrate its prowess in the field of the environment and ecology, as well as its savoirfaire in education, construction and science, the statement concluded.

02 The new 26km-long Kalba road was built at a cost of $272m and reduces travel time between Sharjah and Kalba from 90 to 60 minutes.

November 2020

01 The Monaco Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai will demonstrate the countries prowess in environment, ecology, education, construction and science.

The new 26km-long Kalba road has been inaugurated by His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah. The Sharjah Ruler unveiled a commemorative plaque at the inauguration event to mark the opening of the road, which extends from Wadi Al Hilou to The Flag Square in Kalba. The road was built at a cost of $272m and is said to be one of the most prominent development, service and tourism projects launched by the emirate. The road will help develop the city of Kalba in a way that serves the city’s residents and visitors, and reduces


On Topic | 9

the travel time between Sharjah and Kalba from 90 minutes to 60 minutes, said a report by WAM. The Kalba Road project comprises the 12.5km-long Wadi Al Hilou Road and includes three intersections and 10 crossings, while the 8.5km-long Wadi Madiq Road, includes a twolane 450m mountain tunnel, five crossings and one intersection. In addition, Dr Sheikh Sultan inspected a number of development projects that were classed as vital or tourist focused in Kalba. He visited several projects sites on both sides of Kalba Road, including the green spaces forming hanging gardens, in addition to the 2km-long Yahar Lagoon project. He later then inspected the Kalba Corniche project, which extends over some 9.5km, and has been furnished with several services and facilities including a series of restaurants, retail outlets, recreational facilities, green parks, children’s play areas and other playgrounds for adults.

03 03 The new headquarters for the Government of Dubai Media Office is said to be inspired by a ‘Castle in the Sand’ design concept.


Summertown Interiors completes fitout of new government office Summertown Interiors has completed the fit-out of the new headquarters for the Government of Dubai Media Office (GDMO). The fit-out is billed as ‘high-spec’ and the firm notes that the 4,200sqm project was delivered within 11 months. According to a statement, the firm worked in partnership with Bluehaus Group’s design

team and project managers from 3Sixty Consult. The office is said to be inspired by the design concept ‘Castle in the Sand’ and reflects GDMO’s vision to create a space that ‘feels like home’, combining a blend of nostalgia and modernity. “It was a pleasure to work on such a prestigious unique government project. At Summertown, we pride ourselves on our commitment to deliver high-end projects, working with designers and project managers to fulfil our clients’ requirements. The GMDO office is a prime example of Summertown’s passion for delivering workspaces in which employees love to work and, as much as possible, with minimal environmental impact,” said Marcos Bish, MD of Summertown Interiors. The new open-plan workspace features free-flowing desk areas to encourage team collaboration and transparency, sound-proof state-of-the-art meeting rooms, as well as a welcoming Majlis that is a modern expression of the traditional Arabic hospitality concept, the statement said. The new office is said to be designed to facilitate productivity and provide access to the latest media equipment and technology the office incorporates a Master Control Room (MCR), Central Apparatus Room (CAR), and several recording, editing and voiceover booths with acoustic treatments for sound proofing and absorption. November 2020

10 | On Topic


SEWGA announces upgrade plans for Sharjah utilities The Sharjah Electricity, Water and Gas Authority (SEWGA) has announced it is working to boost the efficiency of the power grid and improve its performance. The move aims to ensure the stability and continuity of the power supply across the emirate. The plan focuses on cutting power failures and responding to the continuous increase in power consumption and expected loads. The firm said that work on 157 new 11kV distribution stations has been completed in addition to replacement of equipment and spare parts in 111 stations. Additionally, 26 stations have been upgraded in seven key areas in Sharjah, while old grids were modified in 23 areas.


November 2020

Chairman of SEWGA, Dr Rashid Al Leem said the authority pays close attention to developing grids and continuing comprehensive development processes in all regions within Sharjah. “We are taking all efforts to implement the directives of HH Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah for providing high-quality infrastructure and development to the emirate’s residents, and raising the efficiency of power distribution serving development requirements, while achieving sustainable development,” Al Leem noted. SEWGA continues to work on completing the plan to develop the transmission and distribution network and building electrical substations as per global sustainablity standards, he added.

04 SEWGA has completed work on 157 new 11kV distribution stations and has upgraded 111 existing stations within Sharjah.


Cove Beach to open new location in Abu Dhabi’s Makers District Cove Beach plans to open its second location in the UAE in Abu Dhabi’s Makers District on Al Reem Island, in partnership with developer Imkan Properties. It will boast a 100-seat al fresco restaurant and lounge, and capacity for 1,000 guests by the beach and pools on sun loungers, day beds and cabanas. Cove Beach Abu Dhabi will provide an oasis on Reem Island and will stand out amongst the very few beach clubs on offer within the capital, the statement said. A partnership between Cove Beach and Imkan, Cove Beach Abu Dhabi will be managed by LIVIT Hospitality Management. The venture is expected to create 100 new jobs for the capital’s hospitality sector. “This is an important milestone, not only

On Topic | 11


for the Cove Beach brand, but also for the hospitality sector in the region. The opening of the UAE’s second Cove Beach venue reflects the appetite for great food, entertainment and premium lifestyle venues – a positive marker for the post-COVID era. Not only does this further the success story of Cove Beach, it also highlights the resilience of the industry, and we’re proud to be able to welcome 100 additional hospitality industry workers into the Cove Beach family,” said Adel Ghazzawi, cofounder of Cove Beach and operating company LIVIT Hospitality Management. The Makers District plans to begin handovers and the first phase of its completion next year. It is a mixed-use hub that caters to creatives, entrepreneurs and innovators. Future phases include a waterfront boutique hotel and a range of residential, F&B shops and co-op spaces, the statement noted.


RTA says Al Khawaneej 2 roads project 80% complete 80% of works on the 77km Al Khawaneej 2 Internal Roads Project has been completed according to Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA). The project is said to cover the construction of an internal roads network stretching 77km, with 68km of single carriageways and 9km of collector dual carriageways. The project is being undertaken under the 5-Year Plan endorsed by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, VicePresident, Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai, for building internal roads in several Dubai residential districts, said a statement from the RTA. Works include road construction and infrastructure works such as rainwater drainage inspection chambers, along with improvements in electricity, water and streetlight networks, it stated. “The contractor has completed 86% of asphalt works extending 67 km, including improvements of electricity, water and

telecommunication networks. Also, 60% of streetlight installation works and 85% of rainwater drainage inspection chambers works have been completed and linked to the main network,” said RTA director-general and chairman Mattar Al Tayer. He added, “Earlier this year, the RTA opened the Sama Al Jadaf and Oud Mateena 1 Internal Road Projects. The Sama Al Jadaf Project covered constructing roads extending 12km and linking them with the main roads in the surrounds such as Al Khail Road southwards, and Sheikh Rashid Street northwards. The RTA also constructed two signalised junctions and streetlight works.” Al Tayer pointed out that that the Oud Al Mateena 1 Internal Roads Project covered the construction of internal roads for the Mohammed bin Rashid Housing Establishment project and linking them with the surrounding roads network. The project ensures a smooth and safe entry and exit of roads users to nearby areas. Works also included streetlights, roadside parking and pedestrian pavements, explained Al Tayer.

06 The Al Khawaneej 2 Internal Roads Project comprises 68km of single carriageways and 9km of collector dual carriageways.


05 Cove Beach Abu Dhabi is expected to create 100 new jobs in the emirate and will feature a 100-seat restaurant and lounge.

November 2020

12 | On Topic

The Workplace Reimagined JLL discusses how flexible office spaces faired in recent years and what may happen in light of the outbreak of COVID-19 One of the key trends to impact office markets globally over the past five years has been the increase in demand for flexible office space. In response, the supply of flexible offices across Europe’s major office markets has grown at a staggering rate of 31% per annum between 2015 and 2019. By June 2020, there was a total of some 5.5m sqm of flexible office space across Europe, with operators such as WeWork becoming the largest office landlord in many key cities, with a global portfolio of more than 4.5m sqm. From a very low base in the year 2000, flexible offices now account for more than 2.3% of all office space across EMEA’s largest 24 office markets and a much higher percentage in leading flex markets such as London (7.2%) and Amsterdam (6.3%). While flexible offices are associated with the provision of co-working space, in reality, the fastest emerging sector of the market has been ‘hybrid models’ combining co-working and private offices in business centre format. The level of space within hybrid centres has more than tripled since 2014, driven by the ambitious expansion of major operators such as WeWork, IWG, Spaces and TOG. The real game changer for the flexible office market in recent years has been the shift in focus away from providing incubator type space for new start-ups and SMEs, to the current landscape where the majority of demand comes from enterprise clients. This trend has provided a whole new scaling up of the flexspace model, allowing major players to go mainstream and effectively challenge & disrupt the previous status quo. November 2020

Attractiveness of Flexspace

• Cost reduction: The traditional means of procuring office space involves high initial capital costs for tenants in fitting out their premises. Flexible models reduce initial capital costs and can represent a significant saving in total occupancy costs • Flexibility & agility: While business models have become increasingly agile and flexible, traditional office leases have not. Many businesses are therefore seeking flex offices as a form of swing space to house short term project teams, with space being easily disposed of as projects complete • Collaboration & innovation: Flexible office models appeal to the growing number of ‘digital nomad’ companies that seek to foster innovation, employee interaction, exposure to new business concepts, and the cross pollination of ideas • Attract & retain staff: The use of flexible space platforms allows companies to better align their real estate strategies with the aspirations of their workforce for a more engaging and rewarding experience Impact of COVID-19 on Flexspace

Not only has COVID-19 dramatically changed the global real estate market, it is also likely to accelerate the existing trends that have led to the rapid growth of flexible space, including agility, reductions in lease duration, and experience driven workplaces. These trends will continue to drive demand for flexible space over the longer term. In fact, our research

On Topic | 13

November 2020

14 | On Topic

suggests that 30% of all office space will be consumed flexibly by 2030. While there are short, medium and longterm implications of COVID-19, the future will involve a mix of flexible spaces. As tenant priorities have shifted to employee well-being, the demand for short-term desks, shared offices and new memberships fell over the course of lockdowns, testing the sustainability of some flexible space models. Co-working firms face the toughest test, as freelancers and startups opt to work from home. Simultaneously, large corporations are shedding memberships for quick cost-savings solutions. While most flexible space operator offices remain open for business, they must adhere to government guidelines. If two metre social distancing is required, it reduces the space allocated for individuals within the property. In practice, this means many flexible offices will record extremely low utilisation rates and, in some cases, will remain nearly empty. Profitability of co-working spaces is driven by high seating density and rental arbitrage. Flexible space operators with a ‘hybrid’ model that lean on long-term commitments of private office space in addition to co-working, may withstand the storm. Those relying on a pure co-working model will likely suffer from the impact of COVID-19. Following these uncertain times, demand for flexible space is likely to be resilient in the long term. Although freelancers are more likely to shed co-working space as the COVID-19 outbreak stalls business, a global survey conducted by JLL revealed that 67% of CRE decision-makers of large corporates are increasing workplace mobility programmes and incorporating flexible space as a central element of their agile work strategies. After the initial wave of uncertainty has passed, some of the larger, well-capitalised flexible space operators will restart their expansion drive, picking up assets and market share from those unable to weather the storm. This is likely to be boosted by large organisations’ unwillingness to commit to large CAPEX projects and therefore opting for pre-built space and lease flexibility. Market consolidation will yield a healthier marketplace, with strong flexible space operators remaining. November 2020

Top 5 flex operators in Dubai Floor space (sq m)

Number of centres










5 Letswork



We expect growth to shift from leases to feebased management agreements, white-labelling and/or self-perform concepts by landlords. In a revived post-pandemic market where flexibility is high on the corporate agenda and the purpose of the office is centred around collaboration, flexible space should emerge stronger than ever and growth could quickly return to its impressive pre-COVID rates. The Flexspace Market in Dubai

Dubai is by far the largest market for flexible office space in the MENA region, and there has


My Office

been a rapid increase in total supply in recent years. From a base of around 50,000sqm in 2014, the market has more than tripled to almost 160,000sqm by mid-2020. This resulted in flexspace increasing from less than 0.5% of total stock in 2015 to almost 2% today. While significant, the level of flexspace in Dubai remains below the EMEA average of 2.3%, suggesting there is room for further growth. The current market is extremely fragmented, with more than 40 different operators of flexible offices in Dubai. One reason is that many of the government freezones have established and are self-operating flexible spaces. Key Future Market Trends

A global survey conducted by JLL revealed that 67% of CRE decision-makers of large corporates are increasing workplace mobility programmes and incorporating flexible space as a central element of their agile work strategies”

A shift in demand: Based on structured conversations with more than 20 major corporates in Dubai, it appears that most companies see flexspace as part of their overall portfolio mix going forward. While the level of commitment varies, nearly all the companies said they expected to increase their utilisation of flexible spaces, with consensus emerging that the correct balance was for between 25% and 35% of staff to be operating from such space at any point in time. The major factor in deciding which flex facility to favour appears to be the reputation of the operator, followed by the profile of other tenants. Interestingly, factors such as cost, and location of the space appear to be considered of lessor importance in the choice of flexspace compared to more traditional leases.

On Topic | 15

Market consolidation: Driven by the shift in the global flex market away from SMEs to larger corporates, the Dubai market is expected to experience more concentration in the hands of fewer but larger operators. This will inevitably involve a setback to some independent operators and is likely to be exacerbated by short time financial pressures resulting from COVID-19. The future is private: COVID-19 is resulting in a global shift away from shared co-working facilities to private/enclosed spaces. This trend is also apparent with the majority of centres offering only enclosed offices or a hybrid mix of enclosed offices and co-working space. A number of the centres that were originally targeting the co-working sector are now seeking to remodel their space by offering more enclosed. Diversified locations: Another trend we anticipate in Dubai is for more flexible office facilities in non-office buildings. Given the oversupply in the retail and hotel markets, a number of developers are currently looking at opportunities to incorporate flexible office

concepts space within vacant or underutilised space within retail malls or hotels. These offer several attractions including parking and access to retail, food services and other facilities. Finding the Right Balance

In-office work and remote work are complementary, and neither can completely replace the other. The post-pandemic workplace will involve a combination of three distinct office environments: the corporate office, flexible coworking facilities and remote working. The challenge for occupiers will be to establish the right mix and balance between the different settings and working patterns. While this mix will inevitably vary between businesses, four underlaying principles can be identified. No one-size-fits-all: This mix will have to be built taking into consideration the culture of each firm and the trends within its industry. It will require an understanding of the extent to which each role and activity the business undertakes can be carried out remotely. In this

quest, technology and new metrics will play a pivotal role in monitoring and adapting to emerging modes of working. Hybrid model & choice: Corporates will have to redefine their real estate footprint in order to make the best of each world: homeoffices, co-working places, satellite offices and the HQ. The future footprint will be a hybrid model, leveraging distributed and liquid spaces. It will include ‘core & flex’ - a combination of long and short-term engagements, as well as urban and suburban solutions. Responsible enterprise: In the quest for human performance, the focus will be on being a responsible employer and occupier. Beyond providing a sense of safety and security, corporates must design a more human and engaging workplace anchored to strong values. This will be key to bridge the trust gap that emerged with COVID-19. In the postpandemic era, this will be a differentiating factor to attract and retain a workforce in search of a better world of work.

November 2020

16 | On Topic

01 Leigh Hayman CMIOSH is the Regional Manager for Socotec GCC based in the UAE.


November 2020

Leigh Hayman “Part of any mature and effective health and safety management system is the understanding that safety is a key business component” As the end of 2020 draws near, we find that the world is a far different place to the one we knew. COVID-19 has affected every country, every business and every sector. While these necessary restrictions on life have been implemented by countries to protect their citizens, residents and visitors, which the Middle East region has managed extremely well, these restrictions have led to an inevitable economic slowdown and that, as it always does, results in cost cutting. Part of any mature and effective health and safety management system is the understanding that safety is a key business component. Across all industries and sectors, it has been proven time and again that performance excellence in safety results in increased productivity. A safety mishap can severely impact both the volume and cost of production like few other things can. The small gains made in production, or cost-saving, by shortcutting safety seem to be worthwhile until an accident occurs. Then the gains disappear or even become losses in many cases. Yet throughout the COVID-19 period “safety” has all too often been seen as a quick win for cutting costs. There are, of course real and necessary reasons why safety budgets are reduced, especially with a significant reduction in an organisation’s production but, for the most part, these reductions have been made because safety is seen as a luxury or box to be ticked - not as an essential business tool.

In my 20 years’ experience as a safety consultant, I have been fortunate enough to work on a huge variety of projects from mega construction projects to Hollywood movies, safari parks, global property portfolios and amusement parks. One thing has always held true - those organisations with a proactive and competent safety culture were better. Without taking into account reduced losses through incidents, everything just worked better and more efficiently in those particular work environments. Quite simply, you cannot aim for excellence without an excellent safety system. So why is COVID-19 changing things?

There are two direct impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on safety standards in the region. Firstly, there is the direct impact of cost cutting with the reduction of safety staff and, more importantly, the reduction of competent safety staff. Secondly, there has been an enormous increase in the “health” part of the HSE role with the need to implement infection controls and this has largely fallen on the HSE team to manage. The result is less resource dealing with a greater workload but the safety issues that were present before COVID-19 are still there. In the short-term the impact will, in all likelihood, be minimal but there is a problem on the horizon. Effective safety is about frequent monitoring and checking to enable continual improvement. An excellence in safety culture

On Topic | 17

takes years to create but only a short time to erode. Bad habits will quickly return without regular inspections and audits by competent safety professionals. Add this to a cost-saving business culture, short-cuts and quick-fixes that have been removed under strong safety leadership will come back. This can lead to short term gains but will ultimately increase the risk of a serious incident taking place that can have catastrophic consequences. This situation does, however, give organisations several opportunities and decisions that could achieve the perfect result - an improvement in health and safety standards with a reduction in cost. For many organisations there is a tick box mentality for safety. Safety personnel, especially at Safety Officer level, are placed without a clear strategy or plan for managing the overall system. There is often a thought that by having a lot of Safety Officers the situation must be under control and safety is “sorted”. This is, however, not the most costeffective route to safety management or of meeting organisational targets and objectives. By having strong, effective and, most importantly, competent safety leadership setting strategy and having a clear vision of health, safety and environmental management, a lot more can be achieved without the addition of specific resources. For example, an effective safety strategy might adopt some, or all, of the following approaches: 1. Upskilling current staff to undertake specific safety roles at a local level. By providing training, clear instructions and effective templates staff can undertake inspections and checks that are required instead of a Safety Officer 2. Using external third-party consultants to undertake inspections and audits. These must provide management with effective results and add value to the overall strategy and process 3. Placing a greater emphasis on subcontractors and suppliers to manage their own health and safety performance. By implementing stringent pre-qualification

criteria and excluding companies that have not demonstrated high levels of safety management from any contract opportunities 4. Ensure that inspection programmes are effective and relevant. Whether these are carried out by internal staff, consultants or visiting managers make sure that inspections fit the overall strategy and, most importantly, there is a mechanism for closing out and rectifying any issues that are identified through inspection 5. Clearly communicate expectations and objectives to ensure all staff, sub-contractors and suppliers are part of the safety system. Without over-reliance on a safety department or role with clear communication and training everyone can be part of the solution. There is another inherent positive for the region as well. HSE is about health and safety. In simple terms, ‘health’ generally deals with longer term and less immediate concerns while ‘safety’ usually deals with imminent

hazards that result in a risk. For example, reducing the long-term effects of manual handling is a health control and longer-term benefits work at height activities during bad weather is a safety control where actions are immediately apparent. The “health” component of the HSE role in the region has been severely lagging the “safety” part, but with the requirements around infection control from the COVID-19 pandemic there has been an enormous increase in hygiene knowledge, experience and understanding. This can only lead to an improvement in overall health controls as it becomes an integral part of the HSE role in more organisations. COVID-19 has resulted in huge changes to the way we work and live. We will come through this and with careful planning and strategic thought, we can actually come through it to be in a better place in terms of health and safety.

November 2020

We bring together disciplines covering technical, functional, economical and ecological aspects. We call this holistic approach “the blue way”.

PASSIONATE SPECIALISTS COME TOGETHER, WORKING ACROSS DISCIPLINES Providing you with independent expertise every step of the way. Through our 360° interdisciplinary approach we merge capabilities across Project Management, Engineering, Consulting and Design with expertise in digitisation, smart buildings and sustainability.

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Our goal is to deliver exceptional projects that are aligned with our clients‘ vision and backed by innovation, sustainability and financial feasibility. Follow us: Drees & Sommer Middle East

20 | In Practice

November 2020

In Practice | 21

Efficient Engineering Six regional experts discuss the rising importance of energy modelling and the benefits it can bring to asset owners, design and engineering teams and, perhaps most importantly, the environment Sustainability continues to gain importance in the built environment and rightfully so, as the construction industry is one of the biggest consumers of natural resources. In addition, according to industry research, buildings are responsible for more than 40% of global energy used, and are responsible for as much as one third of global greenhouse gas emissions in developed and developing countries. These are earthshattering figures and it falls to the construction industry and its bodies to do their part to help reduce the impact buildings have on the environment. One way the industry can tackle this massive, on-going challenge is to take advantage of tools that will help reduce energy use in buildings, which in turn will reduce the impact on the environment. Energy modelling (EM) is one such option, which can bring several tangible benefits to new builds, as well as structures that are scheduled to undergo refurbishment. “Energy modelling provides a useful tool for the industry to incorporate efficiency gains from the very beginning of the design of new construction and retrofit (refurbishment) projects. Many global green building rating tools and certifications have energy efficiency requirements, which are either prescriptive or performance based. These can be evaluated using EM tools and software, which makes EM vital for compliance. It also provides

building designers the freedom to experiment and optimise building architecture and incorporate various passive design measures such as optimising building orientation, window sizing, shading, and massing,” explained HE Ali Al Jassim, chairperson at Emirates Green Building Council. Al Jassim adds, “EM also gives designers more versatility, as they can test several design options and select the best one that reduces consumption and cost. In the Middle East, HVAC systems are the largest energy consumer in buildings. In the UAE, HVAC systems are reported to consume up to 70% of the electricity in buildings. This can be attributed to their design; when HVAC systems are designed in this region, they are sometimes over-sized to ensure the cooling requirements of the project are always met. This means the system is not optimised and is wasteful in terms of fuel consumption, capital cost of the HVAC system, and its operating costs. EM allows engineers to understand the cooling loads of building and avoid overdesigning the HVAC system. Thus, it helps in reducing operational costs and in increasing HVAC equipment life.” May Faraj, head of Environment & Sustainability at WSP in the Middle East emphasises the importance of EM stating, “It has become exponentially more important, November 2020

22 | In Practice

as the need for climate change mitigation has grown in importance. The energy supply sector is the largest contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions; EM provides a clear indication of where inefficiencies lie within a building or refurbishment project, and enables us to provide solutions to optimise and enhance operation. Some practical examples of efficiencies include: exploring renewable energy solutions, energy consumption reductions, and emission reductions.” Here, Professor Dr. Tadhg O’Donovan, head of the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences at Heriot-Watt University Dubai notes that to understand building energy modelling (BEM), it’s important to understand how the simulations work. He explains, “When we input data points such as a building’s geometry, orientation, location, construction materials, mechanical components, intended use and operating 01 schedule, the software creates a virtual replica of the building. The programme then takes local weather patterns into account and gives us projections and insights about energy usage, occupant comfort and energy costs. However, it is important to note that the data we receive is only as accurate as the data we feed into the BEM tools. Simply put, BEM aims to predict energy consumption, utility bills and life cycle costs of various energy related items such as air conditioning, lights and hot water of a new building by producing a computer-based simulation. And, by doing so, BEM is able to deliver immediate and long term value to a multitude of stakeholders that include engineers (more accurate planning), manufacturers (using potential cost savings as selling point), building owners (cost savings), building tenants (reduced monthly bills), and most importantly, the environment (reduced consumption of energy and emissions).” Dr. O’Donovan notes that BEM can also be utilised to evaluate the inherent performance of a building, while controlling for specific use and operation. A building’s inherent performance rating is the basis for processes like code compliance, green certification, and financial incentives. Several BEM tools also allow the calculation of carbon emissions (or global-warming potentials), he points out. November 2020

01 Adel Kathamale is a senior Public Health engineer at Godwin Austen Johnson. 02 HE Ali Al Jassim is chairperson at Emirates Green Building Council.

In the Middle East, HVAC systems are the largest energy consumer in buildings. In the UAE, HVAC systems are reported to consume up to 70% of the electricity in buildings”



Widespread Practice?

Considering the climate extremes that regional cities experience, the impact that buildings have on the environment, and the on-going push to develop and diversify economies away from fossil fuel, energy modelling practices should be widespread in the region. Asked about how prevalent these practices are and how they are used in the construction process, Anas Zaidi – Building Performance engineer at AESG comments, “The GCC is an energy-intensive market. Due to the hot climate, HVAC systems typically consume at least 60% of the total energy consumption of a building. At AESG we always recommend that the selection of the HVAC equipment should be purely based on the EM study to maximise efficiency. Although we have witnessed an increased uptake of modelling during building design, EM results haven’t been well-utilised to track actual energy consumption. To fully benefit from the simulation, energy consumption tracking should be performed post-construction against the model.” Asked what the stumbling block is in this case, he states, “Often, the lack of knowledge about the benefits and utilisation of the EM results degrades the importance of energy modelling. High-quality sub-metering and energy-efficient systems don’t necessarily guarantee an efficient performance of the building, unless energy tracking is incorporated based on EM results.” Engi Jaber, CEO and MD of Climatize Engineering Consultants states, “EM is becoming a norm practice in major GCC markets – namely in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. That in part is in relation to key codes and regulations imposed by the local regulatory bodies to demonstrate how buildings are operating in an energy-efficient and sustainable manner, as well as the growth in the number of environmentally conscious clients in the market.” She points out however, “Some misconceptions lead to the failure of implementing energy simulations as part of the design process. This includes the misunderstanding that EM is only associated with large-scale projects and won’t benefit

In Practice | 23

decisions on small-scale projects, while in contradiction it is as important and beneficial. Next, the notion that EM is too detailed and time-consuming and will hinder the design process, where in fact it is crucial and relevant to every design stage (a shoe box analysis can predetermine energy performance from a very conceptual stage and in minimal amount of time). The third misconception is that the EM process may detract from other design/retrofit goals, whereas it is proven to empower design and reduce long-term costs.” WSP’s Faraj adds, “EM is quite common and prevalent in the GCC markets; most projects and clients seek out for such services. The main drivers behind exploring this practice are: the financial and cost reduction aspect that comes with the general reduction and energy optimisation practices; legislation and national level strategies tend to further drive this practice. The key stumbling blocks to such simulations include: the initial cost of running such a model (where in most cases the bigger picture is missed); the lack of awareness on its importance and long term benefits; the lack of capability/experience in running such simulations.” In contrast, Adel Kathamale, senior Public Health engineer at Godwin Austen Johnson (GAJ) says, “EM is more prevalent for educational, exhibition and government projects and there is fair use for private residential and commercial projects. This trend reflects the short-sightedness of commercial incentives in the lifecycle cost of the building, which EM can bring. There is no doubt concerning the value to the client in terms of overall construction, energy costs and sustainable goals, which should be encouraged by the regional authorities. An added incentive would be to provide green credits for the utility running costs of a building to encourage further implementation.” Key Trends in Energy Modelling

Energy modelling has begun to take hold in the region and in tandem with this, a number of trends have begun to emerge. “Some of the most recent research in this area pairs BEM with full life-cycle analysis (cradle to grave) of the environmental impact



03 Anas Zaidi is a Building Performance engineer at AESG. 04 Engi Jaber is CEO and managing director at Climatize Engineering Consultants.

Some misconceptions lead to the failure of implementing energy simulations as part of the design process. This includes the misunderstanding that EM is only associated with large-scale projects and won’t benefit decisions on small-scale projects”

of the building. There is an inevitable trade-off between embodied energy (energy invested in the building material and the construction process) and operational energy (daily energy consumption of energy) but effective data-driven design can seek to minimise the overall energy consumption of the building,” comments Heriot-Watt’s Dr. O’Donovan. AESG’s Zaidi adds, “One key trend is the adoption of net-zero energy as a long term goal for new buildings. EM techniques are key to achieving this goal. At AESG we have extensively researched how energy modelling can be used to drive net-zero development in our projects - we have developed a tool that can generate key design guidance at the concept stages of a project.” The results of EM can then be used to determine how much energy should be offset through renewables sources, he says. EmiratesGBC’s Al Jassim notes, “Energy efficiency remains key to addressing and tackling carbon emissions, with the International Energy Agency estimating that energy efficiency improvements can deliver over 40% of the greenhouse gas emissions reductions needed to meet climate goals. As a result, life cycle analysis is quickly becoming an emerging trend as building costs, operations and emissions are being projected over the period of its lifecycle and not only during the construction phase.” “Additionally, another trend is to specify and calculate the embodied carbon of the materials being used for the project to reduce the carbon emission of the project. This is quickly becoming more recognised as embodied carbon contributes around 11% of all global carbon emissions and is expected to be responsible for half of the entire carbon footprint of new construction between now and 2050. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a sharp uptake of digital technologies, with whole building modelling and digital twin solutions being developed to be used end-to-end, from project concept to commissioning. In terms of retrofits, EM is increasingly being used to calculate not only the expected energy savings from the project, but also the expected financial savings from the project.” November 2020

24 | In Practice

Best Foot Forward

As with most undertakings relating to the built environment, garnering tangible benefits through the use of energy modelling requires the right approach, at the right time in the project’s cycle. AESG’s Zaidi is quick to point out, “EM has the biggest impact during early concept design. Simple box modelling can be used to optimise building design, shading, orientation, shape, envelop etc. HVAC system type selection should be the outcome of the energy modelling exercise at the conceptual stage. During the design stage, a more rigorous selection of HVAC equipment may be determined. The energy model should be updated at each subsequent stage for any variation until the project’s end of life.” GAJ’s Kathamale adds, “The best way to approach EM on a project is to first understand the client’s motivation and desire to realise the benefits from a sustainable point of view. In this region it makes sense to harness solar gain as much as possible and likewise also study orientation for efficient cooling.” Climatize’s Jaber notes that as in any sustainable design practice, an integrative approach is equally key to energy modelling as any construction process, since designing spaces with energy in mind is much more than a technical understanding of science, tools and technology. She explains, “It is a design component and has a major role in informing the designers of the optimum form and orientation, system selections, materials etc. It also offers a continuous update and feedback, which allows for an open dialogue and collaboration across major engineering disciplines throughout the design process. It is ideal to begin the process from the pre-concept/planning stage and perform relevant simulations respective to each design stage and not introduce it only at the very end of the detailed design stage for compliance verification purposes. This allows for better strategic decision making throughout the process and reaps from the benefits of EM and simulations.” “Moreover, it is important to ensure that the models reflect and take into account the location, surroundings and the shading effect November 2020



05 Professor Dr. Tadhg O’Donovan is head of the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences at HeriotWatt University Dubai. 06 May Faraj is head of Environment & Sustainability at WSP in the Middle East.

During the design stage, a more rigorous selection of HVAC equipment may be determined. The energy model should be updated at each subsequent stage for any variation until the project’s end of life”

of adjacent buildings and building façade components, rather than constructing the model based on a simple volumetric geometry, as this has a major impact on the results. In addition, while undertaking simulations, teams should minimise assumptions or the use of default standard values to provide a more realistic analysis and results. It is vital for the project teams to provide as detailed information as possible at every stage.” WSP’s Faraj says that the best way to approach EM on a project is to treat it as an integral part of the projects’ engineering elements and ensure it drives the design and procurement of equipment and assets. In terms of best practice, she explains, “Integrate energy into the engineering and sustainability elements of a building/project and highlight the long-term benefits of energy modelling to that specific building/project.” She cautions against treating energy modelling as an initial cost burden to a project, and to avoid overstating the benefits gained from the modelling exercise in the immediate near future. EmiratesGBC’s Al Jassim agrees with Faraj noting, “Energy modelling is very important and shouldn’t be looked at from a budgeting perspective. Some of the basic do’s for EM in this region include analysis of weather data, cooling needs, understanding of number of residents in the building, building life-cycle and the design of the nearby communities.” He adds, “EM should be planned right from the beginning of the project and not during the end, once the construction is finalised or completed. EM shouldn’t be ignored as it will help the UAE to support the Paris Agreement with Net Zero Buildings by the year 2050. It has a huge benefit when it comes to gaining the trust of stakeholders and providing the right kind of results when it comes to developing green buildings.” He concludes, “Energy modelling is an important aspect for green buildings in the UAE. It helps us develop buildings that have low or zero carbon emission. The private sector needs to work in sync with the public sector to further support the UAE government’s vision to achieve net zero buildings by 2050.”

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26 | In Practice

Embracing Change Middle East Consultants sits down with MZ Architects’ François Baho to discuss how the firm has dealt with the outbreak of COVID-19, trends in the market, and its plans for growth in the region and beyond

01 François Baho is chief operating officer at MZ Architects.

November 2020

No one could have predicted the far reaching impact COVID-19 would have on people’s lives, businesses and economies. When the pandemic first hit the UAE, it prompted authorities to take swift and decisive action, which meant that, several months on, the UAE is in a far better position than many other countries in the region and beyond. As business slowly goes back to normal and restrictions continue to be eased in the country, companies in the construction sector have begun their journeys back into their own offices, whilst dealing with a raft of new realities. Companies that were prudent and put in place business continuity plans ahead of the pandemic have, expectedly, fared better than others. “The impact of COVID-19 on MZ Architects’ operations were gradual but affected us across the board. Luckily, back in Q2 2019, we developed a business continuity plan but, frankly speaking, we never thought that it would be activated because of a pandemic,” explains François Baho, chief operating officer at MZ Architects (MZA). Baho notes that his firm quickly ramped up its investment in IT infrastructure and security, and prepared its team to work remotely, in response to the pandemic. “In the early stages of the outbreak, we divided the design team into groups and performed a rotation, maintaining a reduced capacity of 30% in the office till late July, as

we had on-going design projects in their last milestone of deliverables.” Baho states that while the pandemic impacted MZA’s business, there were also some positives. He notes here that the firm’s staff also went above and beyond the call of duty. “During the initial COVID-19 period, we were awarded a design project with a tight completion schedule. The team stood up to the challenge by putting in extra working hours, skipping weekends and even the Eid Holidays. Workshops were conducted on a rotating basis in the office, while our design manager juggled between virtual platforms to meet with the project’s stakeholders.” He says, “As of early September, things were going back to normal (or as close as possible) in the office but we miss two of our colleagues who became mothers in the recent period. We jointly agreed they would continue to work remotely for their safety and that of their families.” Safety On-site & New Trends

Social distancing is a requirement by local authorities and while this may be easy to implement in offices, construction sites are a different challenge. Discussing how construction sites have changed following the outbreak, Baho notes that safety is more critical than ever. He states, “Our first thought was for the safety of our staff and then that the efficiency


November 2020

28 | In Practice

of job flows was not impacted. COVID-19 has strengthened our ability to foresee needs and maintain high standards in terms of safety and wellbeing. Some of the regulations that we imposed on sites were developed by the Abu Dhabi Municipality such as labor transportation, mandatory use of masks, temperature control, and reduced working hours from 7AM to 4PM, following the National Sterilisation program. If a worker tested positive, the entire assembled group within the camp were obliged to take the PCR test and quarantine for 14 days.” “As for our site-office teams, virtual meetings with clients, client reps and sub-contractors were strictly adhered to. We also reduced the


circulation of printed documentation to a minimum, before we implemented a sanitisation protocol of all documents and physical samples delivered to site. To ensure that protocols were followed, we also implemented bi-weekly safety induction and hygiene meetings.” The outbreak of COVID-19 also exerted its influence on client requirements. Baho comments, “Following the outbreak of COVID-19, companies across sectors started exploring different technologies in order to adapt to new requirements or to ensure they are not surpassed by competitors.” “Here, MZA had the chance to explore with Schindler via Mr. Walid Sarkis, their innovative

solutions that bring added value to projects. We will be introducing these to our clients and will move to implement these designs to reduce contact with surfaces as much as possible.” Baho explains that MZA will be leveraging Schindler UV CleanAir technology which can sanitise and cycle air in elevator cabins more frequently and efficiently. He notes this helps reduce the risk of infection and keeps buildings accessible and their visitors healthy. The firm also intends to take advantage of Schindler CleanCall technology which enables tenants to select their destination with a wave of the hand. In addition, the firm intends to deploy the Schindler Ahead ElevateMe mobile app. The technology enables users to control and interact elevators using their smartphones. Market Drivers

Within the UAE construction sector, there is growing consensus that the market will be driven over the next few years by refurbishments. Asked about his views on this and what MZA’s strategy is to capitalise on this opportunity, Baho points out that refurbishments will be driven by a desire to make buildings more sustainable. “It’s well known that buildings account for a significant percentage of energy consumption, and the option of refurbishing an existing building offers a substantial chance to reduce carbon emissions. This is more environmentally friendly than building a new structure,” he states. “We are committed to fighting climate change, MZA pays great attention in its concepts to the sustainability of a project, to reduce the consumption of energy, and make the project more environmentally friendly.” He adds, “The same is to be implemented in our refurbishment strategy, whereby we will emphasise on sustainable refurbishment that includes insulation and related measures to reduce energy consumption, the installation of solar water heating and photovoltaics, measures to reduce water consumption, and changes to reduce overheating, improve ventilation and improve internal comfort. The process of sustainable refurbishment includes minimising the waste of existing components, recycling and using environmentally friendly materials and minimising energy use, noise and waste during the refurbishment.” November 2020


Here, Baho explains that refurbishments can also improve indoor air (IA) and indoor environment (IE) quality, and bring with them corresponding health benefits. On top of direct cost savings, sustainable refurbishments can provide indirect economic benefits to both the building owner and society, he remarks. He also points out that one of the most challenging elements of refurbishment as opposed to new build is high cost, as there is a higher tax on refurbishment and lack of incentives in general. He comments, “Defining financial incentives and subsidies can be a key driver to stimulate refurbishment.” Predictions and Expansion Plans

Speaking about what may happen in the GCC construction markets going forward, Baho expresses measured optimism. He explains, “The healthcare sector will be subject to the highest growth ratio, while sectors such as hospitality and retail will have the least growth, if any. However, an entrepreneur might see this phase as the best time to invest - a complete design and construction cycle might last three years, and a resort project could be ready to cater to customers post COVID-19.” Looking beyond the UAE, Baho is optimistic about the African market and notes that the firm has already been delivering work on the continent. He points out there are also prospects within Abu Dhabi and other GCC countries.

02 The Sail Tower is located at the north of the Al Raha beach area in Abu Dhabi and is surrounded by water on three sides. 03 The 2.4km-long project is part of the National Trail that reflects the identify of the seven emirates and stretches from the Corniche to the city’s new Capital District.

Pre COVID-19, MZA was eyeing developments in Saudi Arabia such as NEOM and the Red Sea Project, and even took part in a bid for a Stadium in NEOM. We are waiting for flight restrictions to be removed so we can reactivate last year’s plan of launching our office in the Kingdom”

“We are working with a variety of clients across multiple sectors. While our heart is always with Abu Dhabi, MZA has also worked in the past years on design projects ranging from master planning of a mix-used development in Libya, to a waterfront, mixed-use development in Abidjan, Ivory Coast to a landmark project in Abu Dhabi that should see light soon. We have started to see signs of recovery in the local market as of Q4, and we expect to see a stronger recovery by the end of Q1, 2021.” He states, “Pre COVID-19, MZA was eyeing developments in Saudi Arabia such as NEOM and the Red Sea Project, and even took part in a bid for a Stadium in NEOM. We are waiting for flight restrictions to be removed so we can reactivate last year’s plan of launching our office in the Kingdom.” Reflecting on the recent period, Baho says, “I can summarise it into two words: crisis management. We were forced to step out of our comfort zones, to adapt to this new normal, but I also wonder if it will be temporary new normal or will this become our future comfort zone?” He concludes, “One thing that is certain, we know that adjusting to change can be challenging, be it planned or unplanned, gradual or sudden - change is inevitable and very much a part of being human. The challenge now is to build on our momentum, embrace change, push boundaries and focus to take the business forward in the MZ way.” November 2020

November 2020

On Site | 31

Primed and Ready Angitha Pradeep learns about the elements that set the scene for Finland to expand on its Expo 2020 Dubai theme ‘Sharing Future Happiness’ Middle East Consultant (MEC) profiled Finland’s Expo 2020 Dubai pavilion in March, when it became one of the first countries to have an official topping out ceremony. Several months on, Finland has completed 90% of the construction on its pavilion and is now ready for its dormant phase, as Expo 2020 Dubai has been postponed to Oct 1, 2021, due to the outbreak of COVID-19. Severi Keinälä, commissioner general of Finland at Expo 2020 Dubai tells MEC, “Finland represents Northern Europe in the steering committee for Expo 2020 Dubai, and were involved in the Expo-postponement decision making process. By the time the steering committee had made the decision, we were fully prepared. It was a logical decision made by the Expo participating countries and the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE).” “We are happy with the decision since it helped us to control costs and make the necessary

November 2020

32 | On Site

changes. We discussed with Expomobilia, to see what actions can be taken to save costs, and started minimising additional expenses by good cooperation from the beginning,” Keinälä says, adding that the Finnish pavilion is now ready for the extension period. “To my knowledge, we are among the first of the country pavilions to reach this stage and pause construction on the shell and core of the structure. The envelope of our pavilion has been completed to withstand the winter weather, and the final surfaces and the interior fit-out phase will be finished once we resume work next year.” Involved as the general contractor for the construction of four country pavilions at Expo 2020 Dubai, Dietmar Kautschitz, CCO at



November 2020

01 The interior fit-out phase of the pavilion will be completed once work resumes in the first half of 2021. 02 The pavilion will be optimised for social distancing and disinfection procedures and has been designed to express the Finnish idea of freedom of movement. 03 Severi Keinälä is the commissioner general of Finland at Expo 2020 Dubai.

Expomobilia, said that construction work would restart in April 2021. “We will finalise the exterior of the pavilion, including the aluminium outer wall of the entrance, the exterior membrane, the granite-decorated lakes located at the pavilion’s entrance and the signage. The substrate of the gorge and the centrepiece of the pavilion has been completed except the final wood coating, which will be installed closer to the opening date,” he said in an official statement. Speaking to MEC, Dietmar says that the outbreak of COVID-19 was a shock. “We are connected with thousands of workers here at the Expo site, and the responsibility we had was a big one. Even though everyone was taking care of safety measures, it was quite a big challenge in the beginning because it was so sudden.” Keinälä points out that the extension has worked very well for them. “We have all the materials here ready to be installed next year, and the pavilion will also be optimised for social distancing and disinfection procedures.” He explains that the pavilion has been designed to express the Finnish idea of freedom of movement. “When visitors walk on the concourse and see our pavilion, they can walk freely into the gorge, which is a natural auditory trip to Finnish nature, where they can experience the peacefulness, the calmness, and the harmony of our country. Once the visitor decides to come into the pavilion, they can queue at the north wall of the pavilion, and we will take socially distanced small groups of people inside.” “The ground floor is called the exhibition space and will have art exhibits in the ceiling and a 50m long screen that goes all the way around the pavilion showing our main film. At the human level, we have displays that deal with different issues, and to the end, visitors will be able to purchase Finnish memorabilia.” “With over 100 companies as our partners, we have national partners, key partners and exhibition partners. National partners will have their own podiums on the floor, while our circular economy podium will be in the middle. Key partners and exhibition partners will display the content along the walls in thematic areas.” “Since this is not a fair, we don’t have corporate stands, instead we have one complete


story of Finland, the content and ingredients of which are from our partner companies. The thing that ties it all together is the film that runs throughout the pavilion and is presented from our country’s point of view. Towards the end of this floor we have a vertical farm and a 3D cave, which can be experienced with special glasses.” Keinälä continues, “Invited guests are allowed to the VIP area which is on the top floor through KONE elevators or they can take the stairs. The VIP area is where we will conduct seminars, dinners, workshops, and other activities. It is called the Finland Majlis and will have three meeting rooms, besides the space set aside for presentations and demonstrations.” “At the backside of the structure, there is a half floor (mezzanine) where the technical equipment is kept, so that it does not interfere with the exhibition space or the VIP areas. This is also where the staff can rest and is equipped with spacious washroom and showers.” Precautions & Air Quality

Moving on to precautions taken inside the pavilion in response to COVID-19, he says, “We used the Kone People Flow Analytic Tool while designing the pavilion, and now we can use the same tool – it has a digital twin – to simulate movement to optimise the number of people and guarantee sufficient social distancing.” He points out that the pavilion has another digital twin from Finland-based Granlund, which was developed at the beginning of construction. “We have been able to do 3D modelling and correct certain errors in the design phase of the structure. Now, we can use it to optimise the environment by feeding information such as temperature, CO2 levels etc,” Keinälä explains. Several Finnish partner companies have been actively involved in the construction of the pavilion - for instance, Serviz is providing remote monitoring solutions that will collect data that has to feed into Granlund’s digital twin. Jarno Hovi, CEO of Serviz, says that during the hibernation period, they will monitor the temperature and humidity inside the pavilion to calculate the mould index since mould is often related to humidity. “Once the building will be in use, in addition to temperature and humidity, we will measure CO2 levels, which are caused by people. With

On Site | 33

pavilion is using non-toxic methods to eliminate viruses and bacteria. “Chemicals used for sterilisation are designed to kill living organisms, and people are made of living organisms, so these chemicals are harmful to human beings. We usually see harmful chemicals in the air during our monitoring period in hotels, offices, etc, but here the difference will be evident because we know the interior is being sterilised with nontoxic methods, and there is actual evidence of that through our system.” HVAC Efficiency & Sustainability

The envelope of our pavilion has been completed to withstand the winter weather and the final surfaces and the interior fit-out phase will be completed once we resume work in April 2021” such a large number of visitors expected, volatile organic compounds and ultrafine particles of PM 1 and PM 2.5 are a concern and also very dangerous to the respiratory system. So, we want to make sure that this doesn’t cause a problem for staff who are exposed to this for the longest time and also to make sure that visitors experience good-quality, fresh air,” Hovi adds. Asked to discuss how Serviz’s system works, he explains, “It’s based on IoT sensors and they are fully independent. Each device sends data back to our cloud system, and that’s where we do the analytics. Doing this over the cloud allows us to use greater processing power and more advanced algorithms, so that it improves the quality of analytics. This, in turn, can automatically generate insights to guide maintenance staff or the building automation system to set the right value for good air quality.” Not only that, Hovi explains that with their system, they can demonstrate that the Finnish

Speaking to Azzam Hunjul, MD of Halton, which provides the HVAC system for the pavilion, on steps taken to ensure that it is a sustainable and energy-efficient system, he highlights the use of displacement ventilation strategy. Hunjul says, “The good thing about displacement ventilation is that low-velocity air - cool air - comes from below and when it heats up, it goes to the top. Our target is to cool the occupancy zone and not waste energy, so up to two metres it’s going to stay cool and then nobody cares. This saves energy; we are consuming 30% less energy since there’s no need for a lot of air to move and this reduces costs.” He adds that Serviz will monitor the data and communicate that to the existing BMS system from Siemens. Touching upon Finland’s circular economy goals, he notes that the HVAC system can be re-used and that it is a sustainable and energyefficient system that focuses on hygiene as well. “This has been our take before the pandemic, and it has helped us to reduce the impact even after that,” he notes. In line with the sentiment, Keinälä summarises that besides the newly implemented features, the pavilion was already designed to be spacious and won’t force people together. In addition, the content is digital and there is minimum need for touch. The only touch screens we had were on walls, and even that is being experimented on with motion sensors to avoid touchpoints, he says. He concludes: “The Finish pavilion was always focused on sustainable and well-being elements, but due to the pandemic, they are just being emphasised and made bigger.” November 2020

34 | Educate ME


Fire Safety in Focus Sam Alcock, Dubai director of Tenable Fire Engineering Consultancy discusses his firm’s approach to fire safety What are some of the main recurring issues that Tenable has observed with regards to fire safety and code violations?

We see more violations during a building’s construction phase. Stair pressurisation is a key factor in a building’s safety, and the pressure must remain positive in the event of a fire to stop smoke from entering the staircase. During final inspections, we often find there is either negative pressure, which results in smoke filling the staircase, or overpressure, which makes it impossible to open fire exit doors. Testing all fire safety systems is imperative if a building is to adhere to the relevant country code, but it takes time and can be challenging if there are time constraints. Carrying out tests, such as to ensure the correct pressurisation of staircases, in buildings with more floors when November 2020

works are still ongoing on the top floors can be problematic. For example, if the stairwell is in use and fire doors are being opened, this could ultimately affect the test. Fire stopping is another area of concern. Our main objective is to stop a fire from spreading. For example, if there is a pipe penetrating a firerated wall, it must be sealed with an approved fire collar to ensure the wall will remain sealed should the pipe melt. The UAE Fire and Life Safety Code states all fire stopping must be labelled and approved by a certified fire engineer, and, often this is overlooked due to lack of knowledge or trying to achieve potential cost savings. 01 Tenable explains that positive stair pressurisation is a key factor in a building’s safety. The firm frequently finds there is negative or overpressure during final inspections.

Fire safety is sometimes seen as an expense versus a non-negotiable must have. What impact has low oil prices and COVID-19 had in terms of fire safety on projects that are under construction?

Low oil prices and the repercussions of COVID-19 have had a significant impact on the industry, and developer liquidity has suffered as a result. However, all projects are bound by the UAE Fire and Life Safety Code, and there is no room for negotiation. A project either adheres to the code or it doesn’t. Those looking to save on costs by not engaging with a fire engineer during the postcontract phase will, in the long run, potentially spend more to rectify errors made that could have been avoided. For example, if a fire were to occur and the compartmentation was not sufficiently provided, the cost of rectifications

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02 Sam Alcock is director - Dubai at Tenable Fire Engineering Consultancy.

to the building would be much higher than if adequate compartmentation was provided during the design or construction phase.

practices should they follow to ensure their assets are safe and compliant?

What is Tenable’s approach in terms of performance-based fire design and testing?

As a team, we encourage performance-based design as a way to justify a building’s safety and occupancy safety, especially when trying to maintain an architect’s challenging design intent. However, working with architects throughout the design phase, we review the architectural concept design and provide prescriptive code guidance against the relevant fire and life safety codes and standards. If prescriptive codes are difficult to achieve, a performance-based design approach allows us to map out and rectify areas of concern before obtaining the relevant local approvals. Regarding testing during post-contract services, we are able to ensure the construction and installation have been carried out in line with the original design intent. During testing, we ensure the correct cause and effect matrix is in place and the fire systems work as the fire and life safety strategy intended. What is Tenable’s view on refurbishing


taking into consideration whether there is a sprinkler system and, if not, is it possible for us to add one? Improving the compartmentation, reviewing the safe travel distances and ensuring adequate egress is also crucial. How can clients and project owners ensure that their project is compliant

Buildings are designed to comply with current fire and life safety code, and any future projections are challenging to predict. We can only guarantee code compliance at the time of delivery. However, developers and building owners should stay abreast of new codes and guidelines as they come in. There is often the misconception that fire and life safety requirements end once a building has been completed. However, it is crucial asset owners carry out regular audits and performance testing on fire and life safety systems to certify the building still meets the relevant codes and, if it doesn’t, it is wise to carry out rectification works where possible to ensure compliance. Developers should have a comprehensive fire and life safety strategy to make any future modifications easier. Engaging with a fire consultant during each stage of a building’s lifecycle offers reassurance that preservation of life and overall fire safety remain key.

now and in the future? What best For more information, please 03 Tenable provides innovative fire engineered solutions to a wide range of industries including commercial, residential, public assembly, transport and oil & gas.

contact Sam at Tenable Fire Engineering Consultancy: +971 4 589 6520

older projects, so they comply with current safety regulations and codes? What’s possible and what are the challenges?


Many older projects don’t have the latest, approved documentation, such as the fire and life safety drawings, which makes modifications to a building challenging. However, we can often achieve much of what is being asked, provided building owners are willing to compromise. If there is no existing fire and life safety strategy for us to work with, one will be produced throughout the project. When embarking on a refurbishment project, our objective is to ensure the building meets the current code, as much as is physically possible, as major modifications, such as adding an additional staircase, are not feasible. We first carry out a risk assessment to rule out any major non-compliances and ascertain what the likelihood of a fire starting is, where and what the fire loads would be,

November 2020

36 | On Site

November 2020

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Joanna Pierchala

“It is not about the share of market being more represented by one group or the other, it is about the contribution one brings” Following our special edition dedicated to women in the construction industry, Middle East Consultant continues to share the inspiration and experiences of women working in the male-dominated industry across the GCC. Here, we catch up with Joanna Pierchala, project manager at Compass Project Consulting. What drove you to get into construction and your very first role in the industry?

I would say I was brought up to it, surrounded with my dad’s DIY construction magazines and LEGO blocks. I found this realm much more interesting than typical girly toys. From my teenager projections, I remember imagining myself on a construction site wearing red high heels. However, we all agree it is a totally wrong outfit from a HSE perspective, but it kept me motivated! With time I found myself at Silesian University of Technology (Poland) pursuing a Bachelor in Construction Management, but that was just a warm up. Beside my appreciation of the beauty of architecture and countless possibilities the construction industry offers, my focus is on sustainability. I am bringing it up not as it is in fashion - again I was brought up to care for environment, as my parents are very conscious of it. This inspired me to study the urban

form and trying to find ways of improving the quality of living in cities. Therefore, I undertook a Masters in Urban Design (Aalborg University, DK), and this was the starting point to my career. Share a brief about your career, mentioning key achievements.

I find life to be a box of surprises and opportunities, and believe one should always have the courage to try new and in many instances difficult or contradicting experiences. I’m now in Dubai working as a project manager with the amazing team at Compass Project Consulting - I see where I am now as an achievement, and I know it will bring me many more opportunities to prove and develop myself. In order to reach here however, I passed through several iterations of urban designer & architectural posts, each contributing something special to my current experience package. The most building up experience was the unexpected repercussions of the world economic crisis that coincided with my graduation. Back then I engaged with several short projects across Denmark, Spain, Germany and Norway. During this period, beside fantastic and varied experience in the field, it gave me November 2020

38 | On Site

the strength and conviction that I can do anything, no matter what the circumstances are. The experience across design and construction in Europe, opened the door to (surprisingly) food and beverage delivery in the airports that set me to work further across Europe, Russia and the GCC.

to choose well and choose what they really want to pursue. The GCC construction sector is still male dominated, however diversity is beginning to increase. If you agree with this, comment on what is driving this and how you see the GCC markets

How have you made your mark in

changing in the coming years? If you do

the industry working on projects?

not agree with this statement, please

What is your proudest moment?

share your thoughts/views of the market.

I guess it is in the now, all the past achievements, and failures, are piece-bypiece reinforcing the mark one leaves on the industry. Recently, it was a great pleasure to manage the design of the F&B units fit-out for the Midfield Terminal at Abu Dhabi and Bahrain International Airport. I can’t wait to see the units come to life and I am cheering my previous project management and designer teams to successfully complete these. One thing needs to be underlined - I do think it’s not just the value of a woman only that we need to elaborate on, it’s the value of a diverse team in general. In my career, I’ve noticed that the teams which performed best were the ones constituted of members from across all fields and backgrounds, connecting people and skills.

I try not to view the market and life from a gender division perspective. In my opinion, it is not about the share of market being more represented by one group or the other, it is about the contribution one brings. I do appreciate however, that even in 2020 and in the region, there are still strides to be taken to ensure equal rights and pay.

What are some of the barriers to women entering the construction industry? What was your personal experience?

Growing up in Eastern Europe, I was equipped with the idea that it did not matter what my gender was. As a result, I did not think of choosing the profession in terms of what is dedicated to me. Going further, I would note that reflecting too deeply on the barriers would exactly allow for accepting and creating them. In every line of work and path of life, all that matter is that you have faith in yourself, and that you are ready to take risks. The most important is not to be afraid of the unknown. Everybody in the field, regardless of what is different about us, had to start at the beginning, not knowing what to do. But, we all learn, at varying degrees. I strongly believe that people of experience, working alongside people in influence, should work more with encouraging the next generations November 2020

I strongly believe that people of experience, working alongside people in influence, should work more with encouraging the next generations to choose well and choose what they really want to pursue”

Everyone has a part to play in diversity and equal pay. What would you like to see government authorities and construction firms do to increase diversity and make pay a level playing field?

The authorities should aim to set rules that requires employers treat all their employees equally. I would withdraw from setting any requirements that specific percentages for gender or ethnicity shall be represented in a given industry or company, as this creates new bias. Employment should depend on the experience, knowledge, interpersonal skills (where required) and dedication. Last but not least, the government should support families and schools in the pressure of educating future generations for equality, by allowing for more flexible work frameworks, and creating laws that protect all parties similarly.

surprisingly simple path is unfortunately much more difficult to apply on day-to-day basis, in the increasingly polarised society that we live in. As a woman in the industry, what has your experience been working in the GCC? If you have worked in markets outside the GCC, how does your experience here compare with what you’ve experienced and observed in other markets?

Besides authorities and construction firms, who else can play a part in increasing diversity and balancing pay scales?

Changing the way society works starts with family and at the early school level, with educating younger generations on equalitarian principles, with respect for all humans; in curiosity for the different, and not in fear or disrespect. The younger generations need to know from an early stage, that only the sky is the limit, and this is the same for all. This

I have worked across the EU, from feminised Scandinavian societies, to more traditional countries such as Greece and Spain. Never have I experienced any form of gender bias at the companies I have been engaged at. On the contrary, I would see general curiosity and a positive approach. I have worked in an only ladies’ team and on the other end of the spectrum, I have also been the only lady in the group. I have also been the only foreigner in a team once.

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Do you feel there’s a limit with regards to how far you can progress within Compass?

I think there is always a limit in any organisation, but it is not necessarily negative, it is realistic. We as humans set out our own limits as well, for example I do not have an aspiration to be my own boss. I am very happy with the Compass team and I see there are many ways to develop my skills and climb the so-called ladder. At Compass, we get amazing support and coaching from senior managers and partners. In the end, it is all about the team and I have a strong belief that our team is very robust. How does Compass approach diversity in the workplace? What more can your firm do to increase diversity?

In our team we are already diverse, in terms of nationality and gender. I am not referring to any of the company guidelines but I understand that our team is built on a principle of searching for the best professionals, who are also positive and open-minded people, that are easy to cooperate with. How do you personally push for diversity and equal pay in the construction sector? Are you involved

I would have to note it was always a more rewarding experience to be part of a more differentiated setting. I reckon that an inclusive and very diverse team, in all aspects, delivers much better outcomes due to the varied input each team member can offer. It is especially true and applicable here in the GGC and Dubai specifically, where we all daily contribute to a melting point of diversity. In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge women in the construction sector face in GCC countries? How can these challenges be addressed?

From what I observe, we ladies, get a bit overprotected and the discussion about gender bias is setting us into the weak side of the discourse in many cases. We do not need protection; we do need to be heard and given a chance as any other. It can start right at the call on the recruiters, who

are the first ones to face our CVs and stories that build every single applicant to who he/ she is now and what he/she has to offer to the new placement. In doing your job, what sort of discrimination (if any) have you faced

in any groups/councils etc. that focus on increasing diversity and equal pay?

I am not involved in any groups, as it may be expected from the flow of the conversation. That said, whenever I come across anybody that needs a positive push or advice, this is given with pleasure.

and how did you/employer address it?

I never felt discriminated in a job. I do need to add however that I was able to get things done faster or easier because I am a lady. This is the other side of the coin that we do not look at with the same attention. The discourse is focusing on how difficult it is to be a woman, how about looking at how great it is to be one? Having said that, I am fully aware that the world is not all great for everyone, and there are several areas we collectively need to work on in order to improve the equality and accessibility to the same lifestyle, facilities, work for all regardless of gender, ethnicity or beliefs.

What advice would you give to a young woman entering the GCC construction industry today?

Firstly, there is still a lot to be done, especially with regards to improvements to current infrastructure and connectivity of the existing urban fabric and countries in the region. I encourage everyone to think big and to not settle for easy fixes - there is always a team or a leader that will see the potential in your ideas. Believe in yourself, strive for the best version of yourself and do not let anybody else persuade you otherwise. November 2020

40 | On Site

01 Christopher Robson is senior surveyor – Hospitality at CBRE.


November 2020

Christopher Robson “Opening into the ‘new’ normal market, several hospitality assets are now finding themselves misaligned with the market reality” As a result of COVID-19, hotel operators have been forced to make tough decisions, including the hardest one; whether to keep the lights on. The majority of hotels were required to close their doors briefly after municipal mandates were put in place and some have remained dormant due to lack of initial demand. Opening into the ‘new’ normal market, several hospitality assets are now finding themselves misaligned with the market reality, with pressure on ADRs, profitability and increasing competition in the marketplace. Hotel owners and operators would benefit from re-positioning their asset using sustainable economic approaches with the guest at the forefront, whilst keeping the asset open and maintaining value. Smart hotel rooms have been in operation for several years, reducing costs of operations. Examples are seen in many different guises, from high-tech in-room tablets controlling lights and curtains to more passive examples such as contact switches that turn off the air conditioning when an external door is opened. In the future, CBRE expects to see a more guest orientated approach through technology, utilising the improvements that have been made in Artificial Intelligence (AI), with the introduction of contactless apps on mobile devices allowing a guest to check in, access the room, control the ambience and introduce inroom dining at the touch of a button. Modern ‘disruptor’ brands have focused on variable expenses, optimising areas with a

complete end-to-end package, such as Sonder, a US tech-based company, beginning to enter the Middle Eastern market, running a capex light business model and guaranteeing income for investors. Furthermore, a technology platform based out of India, OYO Hotels & Homes, is globally the fastest growing hospitality company, passing one million keys globally during 2019, operating either a leasing or franchise model, providing improved returns for an investor. The opportunity for operators to be more flexible with franchised hotels, will provide a competent hotel owner with an opportunity to streamline their costs more effectively. These changes to operations will push the better-known ‘traditional’ brands to operate on a larger asset scale not smaller, with a new movement of ‘blended-living’ encapsulating whole communities within a brand, for living, working and recreational space. In the Middle East this may prove very popular, as masterplans continue to be developed with ever-increasing intrinsic community value. This provides scope to maintain the value of branded assets and differentiate from a ‘standard’ development. The pandemic has tested hospitality assets in a way that has previously not been experienced. However, hospitality assets are typically developed or purchased as a long-term investment, over 10 to 15 years, therefore mitigating the short-term impact. It is certainly an interesting period ahead, market testing the ‘new’ normal, for our generation’s interpretation of hospitality.


Threat & Risk Assessment Gap Analysis Security System Design IT/AV Design Master Planning & Development Operational Requirements


Testing & Commissioning Control Room Design System Integration Policies & Procedures Site Surveys & Audits Crisis Management

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