One benefit of working as part of a multi-disciplinary architectural firm in Dubai is our ability to offer Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing (MEP) specialists on any project. The heartbeat and the life of a building only comes alive with the ingenuity and experience of the MEP professionals that design the inner workings of a building. Cooling, lighting, electrical power, drainage, water, bathrooms, kitchens, fire protection, and emergency needs are all within the purview of the MEP engineer. At GAJ, our MEP engineers have a specific interest in designing with sustainability in mind.
Sustainability through Preservation and Restoration
One aspect of MEP design is the ability to analyse an older building to determine if preservation and restoration are a better answer compared to new construction. This is a multi-benefit avenue for a project. For one, it continues the heritage and history of a location. Here in the Middle East and across all of our project sites there is a deep history that informs our architectural, interior, and MEP designs. Secondly, it is often more environmentally friendly to restore rather than rebuild. Through demolition and new construction there are many efforts to reduce waste and recycle materials, but taking that effort out of the equation and revitalising older buildings result in a more positive environmental impact. Increasing the longevity of existing buildings is a sustainable activity that results in a huge saving in energy and materials when compared to new construction.
Two of our recent projects have addressed this, the first being a historic building in Sharjah. Located next to the Sharjah Art Foundation’s Art Spaces, it is being brought to life by the foundation. This project is being provided with cooling, water and drainage as designed by GAJ MEP, in close conjunction with specialists from Sharjah Art Foundation. Installation of MEP services is currently ongoing on site. The second of these projects is with one of our longstanding clients, Dubai College. Over the past 25 years, we have worked with them on a variety of new and existing building projects.
GAJ MEP is re-modelling an existing building at the College, to extend its lifespan and to maximise its use. GAJ MEP is currently designing mechanical, electrical and public health services for the building to suit the new layout and uses. GAJ MEP has also been responsible for advising the College on centralising their cooling provision to an energy centre, which is planned to deliver significant energy savings to the College in the long term.
One significant component of MEP and sustainable design is the ability to address the energy efficiency of a building’s mechanical systems. GAJ MEP examines energy efficiency by regularly use IES thermal modelling for cooling load assessment on our projects. This software has been available to the industry for many years and is a powerful tool to the designer in understanding accurate load profiles and system diversities. Both are key to ensuring that primary cooling equipment is correctly sized for the application, which leads to energy efficient operation through the equipment’s lifespan. This can lead to reduced building operation costs and an effective way to address the building’s need sustainably.
Using Technology for Better Design
Full-service architectural firms in Dubai can work across departments seamlessly with many technological advances. Building information model (BIM) software like Revit allows us to work across various expertise types and allow us to problem solve many things before they arise in the field. We are moving towards maximising use of Revit as a complete design platform. Over the last few years, the MEP team has progressively moved from a traditional design approach of completing calculations in independent software and drawing in Revit, to a Revit integrated design approach.
Where possible, the designer completes the initial layout, calculations, detailed design and scheduling of equipment all within the Revit platform. This ensures that the MEP team is quickly aware of any coordination issues with the architecture and structure and will ultimately lead to better coordination between the designers, which will in turn result in reduced waste on site.
Recent MEP Accolades
The work that we do is out of a genuine desire to create thoughtful and well-designed buildings for our clients, and we are always proud when that work translates into acknowledgment from our industry. Recently, GAJ MEP was awarded the 2016 Sustainable Project of the Year for their work on Arcadia Preparatory School in Dubai. This is an annual event that is delivered by MEP Middle East Awards.