Sandrine Le Biavant: Benchmarking and monitoring energy performance in shopping malls

One of the interesting topics discussed during the RetrofitTech Dubai Summit was the Middle East’s first sustainability shopping mall benchmarking project prepared by Farnek and presented by the company’s Consultancy Director Sandrine Le Biavant, who was responsible for launching and monitoring the benchmarking project. Reducing demand on energy and water and making malls and existing buildings in the Dubai more efficient through retrofitting is part of the Demand Side Management Strategy of the DSCE.

Sandrine Le Biavant is the Director Consultancy of FARNEK, the Swiss UAE-based renowned Total Facilities Management Company.

“Organizing the RetrofitTech Dubai Summit was a fantastic idea,” said Le Biavant. “First, it created a great opportunity for the key players in the industry to come together and hear about new announcements and discover the new orientations in the field in addition to uncovering the best practices employed in the retrofitting sector. It also created an ideal opportunity for us to share our knowledge and expertise in the industry. The summit was simply amazing,” she added.

“I believe I’m not the only one within the participants who would say: we look forward to this event and plan ahead of time to be there.”

The sustainability shopping mall benchmarking project that was endorsed by the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy (DSCE) includes seven of the largest and most popular malls in Dubai. The findings show that on average, the shopping malls surveyed use 511 kWh per square meter, per annum, consume 10.86 liters of water and generate 520 grams of waste per visitor. This means the average mall in Dubai consumes 73% more energy per square meter per year than a similar mall in the US. Malls in Europe, however, use less than 50 percent of this at 192kwh per square meter per year. Swedish and Norwegian shopping malls have a usage of 391kwh.

Other variables had to be taken into consideration, for example, amount of outdoor space, air conditioning by type and distribution, and the percentage of leasable and common area, which varied between 15% and 56%.

“15 Dubai malls were contacted to participate in the study but only seven provided data,” said Le Biavant. “The study looked at 2015-16 data of the malls’ common, leasable and gross floor areas; data from electricity and cooling meters, and chiller efficiency,” added Le Biavant.

Le Biavant said one of the seven malls outperformed the rest because it already had a green building certification. Malls that perform well keep saving while some under-performing malls, or those above average benchmark, do not report any savings.

In terms of energy, the study said mall operators can save at least 5 percent of their energy consumption — the equivalent to providing electricity to 10 offices running with 150 people every year.

For water, achieving 8% savings is possible. A mall that saves an average of 5% of water consumption can save water equivalent to eight Olympic-size swimming pools, according to the report.

In terms of waste management, two key performance indicators (KPI) were used, a waste generation ratio per visitor and a diversion rate, which identified the amount of waste diverted from landfill in other words reused or recycled. The results varied between 250 grams per visitor and 1.08 kilos per visitor and on average malls divert 23% of their waste from landfill, denoting a significant saving when new waste regulations come into force in June.

“Metering systems are integral for aligning industry key performance indicators, promoting sustainable best practice and providing an accurate monitoring system that will ultimately create better efficiencies,” she noted.

“The results of the study were presented to the seven participating malls and many of them said they will incorporate the recommendations in their strategies to make their malls more energy and water efficient,” said Le Biavant.

Energy audits, studying water consumption and waste generation are therefore important to determine key areas in malls where improvements can be made and reduction in consumption and costs can be implemented using best practices and latest technology.

 “We continue to drive the industry forward, so it is encouraging to see a number of malls taking the initiative from an energy management perspective.”

“Nevertheless, moving forward the market needs to shift from just a project base industry to finance engineering. More than dealing with project engineering and energy management, retrofitting must also cover risk management and finance engineering, and that was the main takeaway for me from this fantastic event,” said Le Biavant. “I think we’re going to move into that area now,” she concluded.