The globally renowned British Standards Institution (BSI), which has played a key role in the drafting of national and international standards for industry products and services for over a century, has been roped in by Oman to help with the formulation of a National Building Code for the Sultanate.
Plans for the introduction of a set of modern, standardised building regulations for the Sultanate are in line with a broader effort to support the development of energy-efficient building construction. Energy efficiency and energy conservation are key priorities for the Omani government in light of the unsustainable cost associated with keeping buildings suitably air-conditioned particularly during the hot summer season.
The Supreme Committee for Planning is overseeing the formulation of a National Building Code – a set of regulations governing the design and construction of constructed objects, choice of materials used, and so on. Building codes are designed not only to safeguard the health and well-being of occupants and the general public, but also prescribe guidelines to be kept in mind by designers and contractors from the architectural, aesthetics, construction integrity, and energy efficiency standpoints.
Last year, the Supreme Council of Planning appointed the British Standards Institution (BSI) as project advisor for the initiative. It also set up a Steering Committee, chaired by the Authority for Electricity Regulation (AER) Oman, which has been given the mandate by the Council of Ministers to champion energy efficiency and energy conservation as a strategic national goal.
“The Authority is assisting the Supreme Council of Planning with the development of energy efficiency and sustainability codes to establish clear outcomes and performance modeling for power, energy, water and waste management for all new buildings in Oman,” AER stated in its 2019 Annual Report issued here last week.
The steering committee headed by the Authority will mainly be responsible for “approving project phases and providing support and guidance to the technical team formed under its supervision”, it further noted.
Over its 100-plus-year history, the British Standards Institution is credited with crafting over 58,000 standards, including the world’s three most widely adopted standards: quality management, environmental management and occupational health and safety. It currently offers its expertise to institutions, businesses and organisations in nearly 193 countries around the world.
In a related initiative, the Authority for Electricity Regulation Oman is spearheading a campaign for the retrofitting of government buildings with the aim of making them energy efficient and thereby helping pare the sizable electricity bills racked up by government ministries and departments.
An energy audit of government buildings piloted by the regulator has determined that energy bills can be reduced by an average of 30 per cent if suitable retrofits and energy conservation measures are implemented. It has espoused the internationally-accepted Energy Service Companies (ESCO) model for the roll-out of retrofitting services targeting government buildings.
To assist in establishing a working model for ESCOs in Oman, the Authority has retained the services of Danish Energy Management (DEM), international specialists in energy sustainability. DEM is providing advisory services to the regulator on the tendering on an initial batch of 14 government buildings identified for retrofitting.