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Sustainable towers ready for lift-off with a little help from Nasa

Sustainable Dubai Fakhruddin Properties
Luxury twin-tower development Maimoon Gardens in Dubai will include state-of-the-art sustainable features
  • Maimoon Gardens air-con system uses space agency technology
  • Development comes as 2023 is named ‘Year of Sustainability’ in UAE

A real estate developer in Dubai is introducing Nasa technology to its latest project as it takes sustainable property to a new dimension.

Fakhruddin Properties aims to provide homeowners with the cleanest air in Dubai when it launches the AED700 million ($190.5 million) Maimoon Gardens, a twin-tower development in the Jumeirah Village Circle.

Despite completion set for 2025, one of the towers has sold out already while the other only has 25 percent of its apartments left available.

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The buildings boast a novel air conditioning system that was developed in the University of Wisconsin and taken on by Nasa, who made it more effective in getting rid of a flammable gas as well as bacteria, viruses and mould during space travel.

Yousuf Fakhruddin, CEO of Fakhruddin Properties said: “Obviously people were going to stay for months in the aircraft on a long journey [in space] and Nasa wanted them to grow food.

“[The astronauts] have to eat and hydroponics was something they were going to use to grow their food without soil. But the problem with that was there’s something called ethylene gas, which is a chemical that plants throw out to signal for them to ripen.

“In nature the air can be blown over the crops, but in a space shuttle everything is closed – you can’t throw that air out. They needed something to clean the air and that’s what this technology does.”

He added that typical air conditioning consumes 70 percent of total energy but by using a system that removes CO2 more efficiently the energy requirement is reduced by up to 35 percent and overall energy consumption is up to 20 percent less.

The air-con is one of many sustainable features that the development boasts. It also includes smart home automations and has waste management tech that sorts through dry and wet rubbish, reducing carbon emissions by approximately 1,250 tonnes.

Each apartment will additionally have the option of a green wall: a vertical garden to grow herbs or vegetables. Among the communal amenities is a two-storey greenhouse cafe, with a giant hydroponic garden.

“The idea is you’ll have better air quality, better water quality, better food quality, in sustainable luxury,” said Fakhruddin.

In 2021, UAE building projects were rated sixth in the world for sustainability by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design ranking system.

Simon Rubinsohn, chief economist with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, said there was a strong appetite to take on sustainable real estate projects, both from an investor and occupier perspective.

“You’re seeing some top specification buildings that are coming through with great sustainable features,” Rubinsohn said. “It’s of importance to the market and a signal of intent.”

The UAE has set a target of 2050 to reach net zero along with Oman and Israel, while Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have committed to this target by 2060.

Graham MacGregor of Savills Middle East’s Building Project and Consultancy team said: “Forty percent of annual global CO2 emissions comes from the built environment. To achieve net zero, significant work will be required to improve the environmental performance of existing buildings.”

It is estimated that investment products tailored for environmental, social and governance factors could grow to more than $53 trillion of assets by 2025, according to Louise Collins, head of project and development services UAE at property consultancy firm JLL.

The return on green real estate in the region has been estimated between 7 and 30 percent.

Ed Macura, partner at Core Real Estate, said: “As the UAE is set to host Cop28 this year, it is the right time for local real estate to revisit and kick start itself into greater sustainable activity.”