Hot climates depend heavily on air conditioning systems, and it is well known that 70% of the power used at peak times can be traced back to them.

So anything which can be done to alter this figure can be seen as a means for cities to become more sustainable. One way is to focus on the source of this power; another is to find a controlled way of distributing it: thinking globally rather than individually.

The Pearl in Qatar is an island which was designed with this process in mind back in 2006. It has saved 40% to 60% of the required power over conventional systems. Less power in this case means fewer harmful emissions, less refrigerant leakage and also less noise pollution.

The Pearl

Source: The Pearl – Qatar –

In order to accomplish this, one has to start by raising awareness of the potential available from optimising energy efficiency and conserving natural resources. In effect, it is back to the 3 E’s: environment – energy – economy.

And the end user should be the first to be considered, with everyone else involved being tracked back to the stakeholders. Without the end user engaged, no true partnership can be fostered with the community.

We are looking here at district cooling rather than individual units to cool each home. An expensive outlay at the outset of the project but well worth it when balanced against to benefits it brings to the end users.

Think of it: a utility service which provides chilled water through a centralised cooling plant to a pipe network, feeding residential, industrial and commercial buildings, increasing energy efficiency, reducing emissions, GHG[1] and ozone-destroying refrigerants.

In terms of cost benefits, the public-private partnership in Pearl Island was able to cut capital costs on equipment and also reduce control panels. The internal power distribution was minimised, the annual maintenance concentrated on one plant rather than several outlets and power consumption in individual buildings greatly reduced.


Source: The Plant in Pearl Island – AEC – Architecture, Engineering, Construction

For the whole process to run smoothly, planning has to the foremost target from the outset: to reach a correct design process, choose adequate equipment and use the right resources.

In aesthetic terms, no more bulky A/C units on roofs, hanging from walls, cluttering balconies or clogging up yards. No noise and no vibration on building structures. No worries about operating and maintaining equipment.

All the end user has to do is to enjoy the added comfort, clean the unit filter when needed, pocket the savings and have the satisfaction of having contributed to reducing their impact on the environment.

Article by Silvia Pelham

[1] Green House Gas