Most developers in the region have complained of a lack of good MEP contractors in the market. However, Wasl Properties has developed a sound system of avoiding such issues. Suhas Inamdar, head of Technical Support and Planning, Wasl Properties, told MEP Middle East that the firm has formulated a systematic approach of working with MEP contractors. He explained: “We engage FM service providers that execute a complete package which includes MEP. Secondly, our KPIs are defined clearly; we chart out what is expected from them. We define four systems: air-conditioning, lifts, fire systems and gas systems. This means that the FM/MEP contractor is responsible for all this. There is no variable expenditure that we have to incur from such things. If any spare part is needed, the FM/MEP contractor will bear the cost for it. This also has an additional advantage. Once he knows that he has to bear costs for the spare parts, he maintains it well. The third thing is we have very strong performance measurement system in Wasl Properties. We measure performance periodically, we rate them; there are clauses for penalty though we don’t want use it as an immediate resolve. So, we don’t face any serious issues with MEP contractors.”
Talking about the state of the MEP sector, Inamdar said that most of the private developers have lack of awareness and they don’t understand preventive maintenance, which is “the backbone of MEP”. He said: “In MEP, preventive maintenance is essential. Of course, with AI and IOT (internet of things), which will evolve in a couple of decades, preventive maintenance will become obsolete. As of today, preventive maintenance is essential to ensure long life of the equipment. Most private landlords don’t value it and so the equipment is not maintained properly. This is a vicious circle. When repair is needed, the MEP contractor quotes a higher price, and owners think this is cheating and there is no trust. The only solution is awareness. Once there is awareness, the MEP market will improve.”
The other topic that Inamdar highlighted was the growing retrofit market. Talking to MEP Middle East on the sidelines of the 5th Annual RetrofitTech MENA Summit held on 9 and 10 April 2019 in Dubai, Inamdar said that retrofitting is essential in today’s market because “energy resources are depleting fast and you can’t have only new buildings following energy consumption rules”. He said: “We need to do something about existing buildings and this is where retrofitting come into place. Retrofitting is very simple; it is replacing old and inefficient equipment from a building with more efficient ones.
“The retrofit market is really growing right now. However, trust is still a factor in this field. For any developer to take part in a retrofit project, the retrofit company carrying out the retrofits has to be reliable. If there is no trust, the exercise may not yield the intended results. Developers need to see the benefit of this. The mindset is important.”
A couple of years back, Etihad Energy Services Company (Etihad ESCO) had initiated a project to retrofit 243 buildings for Wasl Properties in different parts of Dubai. The project is expected increase energy efficiency of the building, achieving annual savings of over AED14m as a result of upgrading the air conditioning and lighting systems. The project also included installing photovoltaic solar systems on the roofs of buildings with a capacity of 4.5MW megawatts, as well as retrofitting the existing systems in the buildings.
Talking about the project now, Inamdar said: “When Etihad ESCO approached us, we provided our portfolio of around 400 buildings to them. They identified some buildings which had scope of energy savings. They did a complete audit and provide us with a figure for investment. The amount was AED67m but the savings would be AED14m a year. The management felt this was a good investment of recurring savings with 5 years guaranteed savings. We did not have any cash problems and so we invested ourselves. By January this year we have started seeing the benefits, slightly more than what was promised.”