Presently, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is witnessing a construction
boom that few countries in the world could have experienced at a particular
time. The Government`s clear vision of the future of their country, their
relaxed policies on trade and investment lead to the development of this
country from the beginning of 1980s. The population spread of UAE is very
different in the sense that expatriates from other countries outnumber
the nationals by a huge margin. Expatriates make up the majority of population
and are mainly drawn from the Indian subcontinent, Europe and neighbouring
Arab countries (Al Tamimi, 2006). A Dubai policy in the summer of 2002
announced freehold property ownership for people of all nationalities
(Al Tamimi, 2006). Since then, buyers have been flocking to the various
upscale developments and buying property in record times (Al Tamimi, 2006).
The overall strategy of adopting free market principles has brought about
an increasing volume of investments in a large variety of projects and
joint ventures, manufacturing and service industries; retail and tourism
business have increased (Al Tamimi, 2006).
The major boom in the building and construction industries has significantly
enhanced the demand for lighting and electrical products. The many sophisticated
developments taking shape across the UAE are wooing the customers using
the dramatic effects that can be created through architectural lighting
to enhance their properties and theatrical lighting, which uses intelligent
lighting to improve the quality of the audience experience. Dubai, which
is the commercial hub of the Middle East and melting pot of many nationalities,
is concerned about its image to preserve and enhance its international
In the Gulf States, although there is small amount of research and writing
that is relevant to the use of conservation measures, there is a need
for such methodologies due to their economic and environmental benefits
(Radhi, 2008). In the recent past, the effect of glazing and code compliance
on Air-Conditioning systems was presented by Omar and Al-Ragom (2002).
Iqbal and Al-Houmoud (2007) have analyzed alternative energy conservation
measures for an office building in hot and humid climate, choosing Dammam,
Saudi Arabia as their location of study. Very recently, Al-ajmi and Hanby
(2008) have reported their work on simulation of energy consumption on
Kuwaiti domestic buildings while Radhi (2008) has proposed a systematic
methodology for optimizing the energy performance of buildings in Bahrain.
The need for research and documentation on automated lighting systems
in the region has assumed much more significance now after His Highness
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-president and Prime Minister
and the ruler of Dubai issued a resolution on implementation of green
building specifications. The research described in this paper was motivated
by the author`s observation that all the works mentioned above have concentrated
on the energy-efficient air-conditioning systems of buildings in the region
and that there is a need to identify how the lighting systems are performing
presently which could serve as an indicator for future measures. The objective
of this paper therefore is to present the results of the research study
conducted to analyze five lighting control technologies employed in the
new projects in Dubai which are classified into residential, commercial
and hotel projects and to analyze the extent and sophistication of lighting
control on the present installations. From the study, we also examine
the demand drivers and challenges faced by providers of lighting control
business in the region. The aggressive energy policies of the government
may mandate lighting code regulations in future. So we also identify the
difficulties and challenges associated with implementing such regulations
in an expatriate-dominated society like Dubai.
THE RESEARCH STUDY
The concept behind the lighting controls is to operate lighting automatically
according to the function of an area, the time of day, ambient light levels
or occupancy. The knowledge about the type of visual task that is going
to be done in a given space and the electricity rates at various times
of the day will help in deciding a particular control mechanism. Energy
saving can be the objective of providing lighting control in a typical
scenario. The load shedding control can also be used as a strategy in
automated lighting. It permits a reduction in lighting load to achieve
reduction in power demand at the peak time. Before such a load-shedding
technique is applied to the real world, however, it is important to understand
occupants` illuminance requirements with respect to dimming (Akashi and
The popular control technologies taken in this study are dimming, lighting
control panels, occupancy sensors, Building Management Systems (BMS) and
daylighting systems. Lighting control panels and BMS contribute to the
scheduling technologies for smaller and large buildings (100, 000 ft2
upwards) respectively. Scheduling systems activate lighting at pre-set
time intervals that range from minutes to hours. When properly integrated
with electric lighting system, daylighting systems not only save energy
by reducing off electric lighting load but also increase user comfort
and satisfaction. The combination of the above mentioned strategies provide
the highest level of energy savings. It is impossible to assume that there
could be a single ideal set of criteria for good lighting (Tregenza, 2003).
The association between the nature of lighting and people`s expectation
and satisfaction is very complex and hence is very challenging and interesting.
Some key projects currently underway that would require lighting solutions
and services are: Burj Dubai; the tallest building in the world, Business
Bay; a multi billion dollar global commercial and business centre in the
heart of Dubai, Dubai Autodrome and Business park; a state-of-the-art
motor racing facility containing six different track configurations and
motor industry companies, Dubailand; a US$ 7.5 billion mixed-use theme
park consisting of stadiums, golf courses, academies and facilities, Dubai
International City; 20, 000 apartments in 350 buildings with townships
based on China, England, Italy, France, Russia and Morocco, Dubai Metro
and Railway projects; a US$ 4 billion project catering to 70 km length
underground and elevated train systems, Hydropolis hotel; the world`s
first underwater hotel etc. (Dubai Explorer, 2007).
The study was conducted between April 2006 and October 2007 on a sample
of 205 new projects in Dubai. By data collection through the web and interaction
with the construction industry, the buildings were identified as to whether
the projects use at least one form of lighting control and were classified
as residential, commercial and hotel projects. Table 1
shows this information. It was found that out of 205 projects, 94 projects
(45.9%) were using some form of lighting control out of which 53 were
residential buildings, 25 were commercial and 16 were hotel projects.
||Details of new projects
||Types of new projects that use lighting control
||Professions of participants
|Engineers` category also included four energy consultants
It was identified that the projects that use lighting control could
be further classified into the categories as shown in Table
2 according to the building use. A total of 38 professionals involved
in the lighting control business from among these 94 projects were chosen
and interviews were held with them. The professions of participants are
indicated in Table 3.
The participants were asked as to whether the project they represent indeed
used any form of lighting control and what method of control was specified in
the project. Depending on the answers provided on a particular category of lighting
control systems, follow-up questions were asked. The results of the study are
presented in the next section.
Prevalence and penetration: Given in Table 4
is the result of the research study conducted on the five different forms
of lighting control used in each of the three categories of projects.
During the follow-up phase of the study, the participants indicated the
following as the most important reason for prevalence of a particular
system in a given category. The dimming is most popular in hotels (100%)
mainly because of the prevalence of use of architectural control in conference
rooms and ballrooms and stand-alone dimmers in hotel rooms. Commercial
buildings widely adopt dimming (40%) and some of them for fluorescent
lighting using electronic ballasts and DALI (Digital Addressable Lighting
Interface) and non-addressable digital control, DSI technology.
Lighting control panels are housed near the distribution boards and they
control the lighting circuities. All the relays and dimmers predominantly
are controlled by a common protocol such as EIB (European Installation
Bus), C-Bus, PROFIBUS (Process field bus) etc. and lighting control panels
are widely employed in residential (75.5%) and commercial projects (80%)
and could potentially become a standard feature in future, according to
Occupancy sensors are mostly used in corridors and lift lobbies in residential
projects (28.3%) and in conference rooms, boardrooms, car parks and reception
areas in commercial projects (20%). Twenty four participants felt that
this simple technology has the reach to achieve significant energy savings
in buildings in Dubai.
BMS has wide acceptability in most of the new projects and lighting control
is generally interfaced with BMS thus offering flexible solutions, fast
expandability and easy adaptation to customer needs, remote monitoring
and greater energy efficiency. In some projects we find that lighting
control panels are used as standalone as well.
Daylighting though highlighted by most of the manufacturers in promoting
their systems, is being adopted in few projects (12%). This is likely
due to heat gain problems associated with it in the desert climate of
Dubai since it has a direct impact on the air-conditioning load. There
is less work done to assess and evaluate the performance of daylighting
systems in the buildings of Dubai. However, Al-Sallal (2006) has done
an experimental work recently in universal space studios in Al-Ain, UAE
and the research done by Aboulnaga (2006) investigates the problems associated
with misuse of glass as a building element in UAE particularly in Dubai.
Inadequate design with ill-selected glass/glazing type may lead not only
to poor daylighting in building interiors but also contribute significantly
to fatigue, insomnia, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and above all
increase CO2 emission (Aboulnaga, 2006). According to ten participants,
with more such research and refinement coming into daylighting systems
meant for hot regions, the adoption of these systems in Dubai would become
more common in design practice. According to Yannas (2007), 1-2% of the
outdoor illuminance in the UAE can be sufficient to provide the illumination
levels of 300-500 lux required for typical indoor activities.
Demand drivers: The participants were asked about what they considered
as the demand drivers of automated lighting control business in Dubai.
Options included meeting the requirements of the property developers,
incorporating personal control for increased satisfaction, comfort and
productivity, flexibility in controlling the floor area, willingness to
embrace new technologies such as DALI and energy savings. Table
5 shows the participants` choices.
From the interaction with the participants, the following emerged as
the reason for their choices. Major developers in Dubai see the automation
in lighting as a selling feature to promote their properties. This is
the biggest driving force (89%). They offer lighting control or create
containment for future incorporation. Scene control, occupancy sensors
and workstation lighting controls dominate the market due to user satisfaction
and convenience factors.
||Prevalence of lighting control in new projects in Dubai
|Values given in parentheses are total number of projects in the
||Factors driving the demand of lighting control systems
Open office spaces require modification and alteration
depending on the client`s requirement and adaptation of lighting control
makes these tasks easier.
Though energy saving is the ultimate feature of automated control, it
is still not a major driving force in decision making in Dubai (41%),
due to the fact there are no specific regulation or energy codes in place
and also the cost of energy is less because UAE contains 98 billion barrels,
the fifth largest proven oil reserves in the region, according to Energy
Information Administration, the official energy statistics from the United
States. Considering the fact that UAE enjoys the highest per capita income,
the consumers are still not feeling the pinch due to cost of energy when
compared to their other expenditures.
Resistance to adoption: The participants from the professional
group responded as given in Table 6, when asked about
the various factors that prevent a project from using lighting control
technologies. Participants could choose more than one factor.
The main resistance to adoption comes due to the initial cost, which
is the same reason that concerns the providers the world over. The specific
reason of educating the user in operating the controls and making him
feel comfortable with the expertise is particularly relevant in the case
of BMS (48%). With a proper after-sales service network non-existent,
the apprehension of clients is not completely unjustified. Operational
issues or technical drawbacks (32%) are mainly due to the occupancy sensor
category wherein countering the delays and false-offs continue to pose
some problem, even though design refinements have injected some confidence
with the users.
||Resistance to adoption
||Factors that would make the controls more common in
The designer group expressed that some clients perceive that these systems
may not function as intended as they have experienced lights going off
at wrong times (36%). They also face challenges while integrating an existing
light system with new controls, looking for more creative solutions. The
respondents also felt that they faced a unique and difficult situation
to specify lighting control systems in a region where energy costs are
minimal and value engineering is the norm considering the fact that labour
costs form a substantial portion of the overall project costs. When it
comes to cost cutting in a project, the lighting control becomes one of
the first casualties. With the rental properties forming a major part
in residential and commercial sectors in Dubai, some owners have hesitation
in going for advanced controls. This explains why a high factor (58%)
accounted for resistance due to specification.
Reason for optimism: Overall, the participants agreed that lighting
controls are becoming common in all commercial projects and the extent
of advancement and sophistication is dependent on project type, scale,
client criteria and cost. They also opined that if some new codes mandating
lighting controls such as ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration
and Air-conditioning Engineers)/IESNA (Illuminating Engineering Society
of North America) 90.1-1999 are mandated, the cost for these systems will
eventually reduce because of increase in demand. Table 7
shows the details of the responses when asked about what are the factors
that would make these controls common in future.
Here, we examine how Dubai buildings will accept and adapt themselves
to automated lighting control in future with particular focus on energy
perspective. The study conducted indicates that energy saving is not the
biggest demand driver for these controls and hence we identify this area
as untapped and scrutinize this aspect to interpret the future scenarios.
The study also has two other important results that property developers
require lighting controls to be installed in their buildings and that
the willingness to experiment new ideas cause encouragement among the
providers and designers. With these significant findings, we review the
role of the government in making the controls popular.
Governmental measures: Presently Dubai Electricity and water authority
(DEWA) has an energy conservation cell and it releases advertisements
in the local newspapers to raise awareness among the public for efficient
use of energy. DEWA recently launched quotes your decision campaign to
raise awareness among the community to curb excessive consumption of electricity.
It has introduced different slabs to charge tariff for residential, commercial
and industrial consumers ranging from 20 fils per kWh to 33 fils per kWh.
In an effort to utilize solar energy, Dubai Municipality erected solar-powered
parking meters as well as some road signage in and around the city (Kazim,
The government of Dubai recognizes and encourages people who have adopted
energy efficient strategies in their buildings and is committed to achieving
sustainable environment protection by encouraging more green buildings
to be constructed and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)
ratings to be achieved for new buildings. The LEED specialist, Keith (2005)
reiterates that lighting controls, as a minimum per local energy code
compliance, is required on all LEED projects. In fact, it`s a prerequisite
(Keith, 2005). In addition, lighting controls can be a major contributing
factor to the Energy and Atmosphere category, Credit 1, Maximizing Energy
Performance and the Indoor Environmental Quality category, Credit 6, Controllability
Since January 1, 2008 the villas, hotels, mosques and all kinds of buildings
planned for future must conform to sustainable development criteria as
announced by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-president
and Prime Minister and the ruler of Dubai. There are 70 planned U.A.E.
buildings now aiming for green status, according to Hilson Moran, which
has a seat on the Emirates Green Building Council (Hughes, 2008). The
UAE is picking up on messages from around the world and one of those is
sustainability and they have the ability to implement it, says Chris Johnson,
a Gensler managing principal (Hughes, 2008). The company Pacific Control
Systems` 5-storey headquarters building at the Dubai Techno Park has achieved
the platinum rating and Wafi City`s District Cooling Plant was also awarded
a silver LEED certification. Metito`s headquarters at the Dubai Techno
Park known for its daylighting design and Tameer`s towers, a 72 storey
building made of locally produced pre-cast-concrete panels are few of
the many examples vying for green status. The developers are responding
very positively to the Ruler`s new resolution. A regional English daily
reported that the developers in the UAE are choosing to build the highest
level of green buildings to the surprise of certifying body, Middle East
Centre for Sustainable Development (Gulf News, 2008). Our finding that
meeting the requirements of the property developer as the primary demand
driver underscores this aspect.
In line with the green building resolution, DEWA enforces regulations
through various stages. As per this regulation, the control systems such
as motion sensors, dimming systems and lighting with timers are required
to be used in all buildings and are to be considered by all consultants,
consumers, developers etc.
Such market pressures can simulate the need for lighting control technologies.
With high economic and population growth rates and a fairly low energy
cost, the country`s energy consumption has risen tremendously in the past
decades (Kazim, 2007). With the cost of energy going up, the government
may mandate more energy code practices in future. A similar forethought
was earlier expressed by Berkeley Researchers on why so few buildings
use advanced lighting control systems. They believed electricity prices
would rise in the next five years, creating an incentive to owners and
operators to adopt such measures to slash costs (Snoonian and Bowen, 2005).
The population mix of Dubai is predominantly expatriate-oriented, thanks
to its tax-free atmosphere and high level of living standards. This aspect
poses unique issues concerning labour and expertise in implementing and
pursuing energy standards and codes, if the government chooses to do so.
We briefly examine the challenges of implementing lighting codes in particular.
Challenges in enforcing lighting code regulations Design challenges:
Building codes and standards have enormous effect on the type of controls
designed and implemented into a lighting system. The codes if implemented
will make the designers think innovatively to structure a lighting system
into a building`s network. Devising of such control strategies to suit a particular requirement
needs huge design expertise. When these sustainable design requirements
become code, the industry and its products should rise up to the challenge
and expect to be refined for the better. The region should equip itself
with the design skills to match these technical demands.
Challenges in training: The lighting codes if implemented will
set maximum allowable energy consumption levels for various lighting systems
and will have its statements of requirements and evaluation methodologies.
The assessment of impacts of these codes, its economic analysis and training
is a complex and technical task (Chan and Yeung, 2005). The analysis of
cost data for lighting products involves difficult calculations because
products having variable costs and shapes can offer similar light at similar
efficiency and efficacy. This poses challenge in cost analysis and hence
requires training at this level too. The training of design professionals,
contractors, lighting equipment suppliers, code officials or inspectors
is critical for successful implementation of codes and hence the training
will have to be implemented by way of seminars, presentations and software
to demonstrate lighting design compliance.
Enforcement challenges: Enforcing the codes requires high level
of expertise and the government has to hire multiple code officials with
specific areas of specialization. Recruitment of skilled code officials
and training them could put additional pressure on the government.
Informing the consumers: If codes are mandated, the government
has to equip the residential consumers with the accurate and reliable
information of products. The government has to insist on printing lamp
output in lumens, energy wattage and average lifetime on the packaging
of lamps. This will enable the consumers to choose more energy efficient
products and help avoid confusion. Bridging the gap between available
lighting technology and consumer knowledge is a significant challenge
and one that in Japan is jointly met by government and industry initiatives
(Sanderson et al., 2007). The successful inclusion of a community
into environmental policy brings with it a need to develop both environmental
awareness within the community and capacity building within a nation`s
human resources. (O`Brien et al., 2007). When awareness and capacity
building are attempted without policy participation the results have often
been poor (O`Brien et al., 2007).
If codes become the norm and are well defined, the most popular control
technology will evolve with time. From the study, the sheer amount of
construction activities happening in Dubai can be seen as a tremendous
opportunity for implementing energy codes and standards.
This research study identified that intelligent and automated lighting
finds its place in almost all landmark developments in commercial and
hotel projects in Dubai mainly for scene control and due to the ability
to employ multiple control strategies simultaneously with a centralized
intelligence. This is mainly because building owners and property developers
see them as a way to promote the image of buildings or properties. The
study also highlighted that the feasibility of these systems in all types
of buildings and the demand will rise in future.
The study observed that the objective of lighting control as an energy
conservation scheme can be achieved if the government imposes tougher
standards on commercial building energy usage. The adoption of these systems
is already on the rise due to the recent requirements enforced by DEWA.
The paper also has identified that the sheer amount of buzz and activity
in the construction industry is seen as an opportunity to enforce lighting
power budget requirements though it will have its share of challenges
that are specific to the region. Building owners will then highlight their
buildings as energy efficient and justify the initial cost to their customers
and lighting control can then become a standard feature in each building.
The work identified that Dubai has the technology, infrastructure and
most importantly, the government with a readiness and vision in place,
for the automated lighting control to develop and establish as a must-have
feature in each building.
This study attempted to highlight the prevalence and penetration of lighting
control systems in Dubai with an aim of providing some insight as to how
these systems will evolve in future in the region. There is a need for
more holistic performance indicators and design procedures in daylighting
systems that can be developed specific to the (hot) region, taking into
account the heat gain factor. The satisfaction and comfort index analysis
done on the general public who has been given the personal control option
can also throw light on the need to develop and bench mark the design
criteria, which could be region specific. More work is continued by this
researcher in identifying and evolving a suitable model for allowing flexible
adaption to the environmental factors and user preferences.
The authors express their acknowledgments to the management of Birla
Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani (Rajasthan) and BITS- Pilani
Dubai for offering their support and facilities in the completion of this