In March, it was revealed that the actual performance of façades in Dubai can differ vastly from what is expected of them.

While this may not surprise design experts in the emirate, it should be a key point of consideration for property developers and owners, given that 80% of all energy produced in the UAE is consumed by the buildings sector.

Speaking at the ZAK World of Façades conference, held in Dubai on 20 March, general manager of Wintech Middle East, Jason Pardesi, said that residential buildings consume more energy than commercial stock in Dubai. He added that linear and point thermal bridging should be an important part of the design cycle to optimise façade performance, adding that balcony linear thermal bridges could help reduce heat by affecting insulation U-values by 9-18%. In addition, airtightness is key to achieving the desired envelope performance, and avoiding tenant discomfort during operation, Pardesi said.

All these factors can also help to improve a building’s sustainability, which according to TSSC UAE’s chief executive officer, Pasquale Dellapenna, is one of the chief trends impacting the country’s façades sector.

“The external surface of the building is [...] the building’s skin,” Dellapenna tells Construction Week. “Incorporating sustainability initiatives into warehouse and building façade design is a win-win proposition. It mitigates harmful effects to the environment, and encourages worker safety and comfort. But from a business perspective, it also lowers operating costs, ultimately improving a company’s financial performance.”

TSSC, along with Interplast, is part of the UAE’s Harwal Group. TSSC manufactures façade products such as cladding and composite panels for industrial and commercial buildings, while Interplast manufactures façades,  including aluminium composite panels,  for residential buildings. Dellapenna says that in addition to sustainability, technology and fire-resistance are also driving façade development in the UAE.

General manager of façades at TSSC, Shakeel Siddiqui, concurs. He tells Construction Week that sustainability is a key factor in local product selection: “Façades and building envelopes [...] are important environmental moderators and key influencers in project risk and commercial success. The trend towards ‘greener’, more sustainable [projects] has taken hold in the construction market.

“Governments and private enterprises are  increasingly recognising the role that buildings play in resource usage, greenhouse gas emissions, the productivity of citizens, and a nation’s built environment,” he says.

“As technologies advance, many companies are now seeking buildings that offer healthier environments, ‘smart’ buildings – where efficiencies are maximised through information collection and system-to-system communication – and buildings that provide resilience in the face of natural and manmade risks,” Siddiqui concludes.