Sustainability in the heart of a desert

Sustainability in the heart of a desert

It is not often that a petro-chemical refinery dealing with ecologically volatile hydrocarbons is dedicated to have a minimal ecological footprint. Located in the Hamriyah Free Zone, Sharjah, Green Spring Energy is a crude oil processing & storing terminal. Once completed, it will be the first building in Sharjah emirates, UAE that meets the stringent Eco-conscious requirements of GRIHA.

Green Spring Energy is designed to refine petroleum & petro chemical products to manufacture base oil, mineral oils, diesel and fuel, oils etc. The Terminal boasts to be a Zero waste plant, wherein every drop of raw material collected and fed into re-refining facility is recycled into useful products without any wastage.The same philosophy is translated into the Office building facility of the terminal as well.

Conceptual elevation

Sharjah falls in a maritime desert climatic zone, which is one of the toughest weather zones to design a habitable space. Office spaces are even more complicated in such conditions, as the thermal comfort parameters are very critical to prevent sick building syndrome amongst the employees.

IdeinLab Architects an innovation based green design company founded by RadhaEswar and KrishMuraliEswar combined sustainability design principles and the vernacular construction techniques of the region to provide a futuristic design that is sensitive to land and natural resources.

Conceptual view of earth berm

The Passive Solar Design

The office building for Green Spring Energy is spread over 20000sqft, designed to house 150 employees at a given time. It is crafted with intent of creating a structure that is responsive to its surroundings and is self-sustainable with respect to power and water management.

Huge expenses owing to mechanical systems to ventilate the indoors with heavy Air-conditioning is a norm in this region. Employing passive solar design techniques and inspirations from natural forms and the traditional vernacular architecture, this office is able to reduce the heat ingress into the indoors by 60%.

The structure is smartly designed to keep the harsh sun away from penetrating the indoors. Locally sourced boulders form the insulating thermal mass to absorb all the heat during the day and radiate back the heat outside during the night. Using locally available stones reduces the carbon footprint by 40% and also reduced the amount of artificial ventilation systems.

The roofs are engineered to be extremely light in weight and consume 30% lesser concrete and steel. An age old technique called Filler Slab is employed by replacing the non structural parts of the roof with recycled Styrofoam blocks. This adds to the thermal properties of the roof and reduces the heat ingress indoors.

The building form is circular in plan to facilitate the structural stability of the building that is standing on shallow land forms reclaimed from the sea. Locally quarried and sourced boulders provide for a very stable building material, that is low on Carbon footprint and provide great insulation from the intense summer heat.

With the design intent of a combination of simplistic sustainable design features, Green spring energy is representative of an amalgam of tradition and modernity. Spread over two floors in two blocks, the building is partially submerged into the earth.

Roofing technique

Adopting the local vernacular methods of natural cooling, the structure is tucked with a blanket of native landscape on its south and western sides. This provides an indoor temperature of 30 degrees Celsius without artificial ventilation systems. The façade of the office building is punctured with optimally designed fenestrations with climate sensitive glazing that provide uninterrupted views of the outdoors.

The mechanical ventilation is provided by an innovative system of chilled water pipes running through the floor and roof slabs that provide convective cooling indoors. The chilled water running through these pipes is a discharge from the refinery plant that is reused, thereby eliminating the need for chillers and cooling towers, and most importantly the scarcest of resources in this region- Water.

Ground Floor plan

The Outdoor Planning

The need to accommodate a large number of employees in each floor requires large uninterrupted spaces. Use of masonry domes, inspired from the traditional domes of Islamic architecture, is a cost effective technique employed in this project. This has reduced the use of massive concrete and steel, thereby reducing the carbon footprint of the overall project.

Wall Details

Visible amply from outside is the most distinct feature element that is the earth berm structure covering the entire office building on the south and western sides. The berm is adorned with carefully chosen Native plant species that require very minimal maintenance and irrigation requirements. These plants not only beautify the terraces but also aid in improving the bio-diversity of the micro-environment around the office premises.

A well designed drainage system aids in harvesting rain water during the short wet season the region experiences. The landscape blanket further traps moisture on the surface of the building structure, keeping the surroundings breathing even during harsh summers.

Client: Green Spring Energy FZC

Commencement date: July,2014

Completion date: In Progress

Photographer: Ashish Bhuvan

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