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Daikin’s Office Retrofit: Pushing Forward the Drive for Sustainability

Daikin Industries is a global leader in developing and manufacturing advanced, high-quality air conditioning, heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, and refrigeration products (HVAC-R) providing solutions for residential, commercial, and industrial applications. Founded in Japan in 1924, the company strives to combine expertise and experience to create new innovative technologies by anticipating the future requirements of customers and society. Daikin has evolved over nine decades to employ 80,000 people with 100 production bases and presence in 150 countries worldwide.

Daikin’s commitment to the local market has been the main driver in the move to a new office inside the Jebel Ali Free Zone to consolidate its manufacturing, sales and training facilities, and become its headquarters in the Middle East and Africa region. Daikin’s building needed a complete retrofit to meet its sustainability standards and to include its renowned air conditioning technologies around the world for its high-energy efficiency and low environmental impact.

Daikin moved to its new headquarters in July 2019 Daikin’s HQ building is in Jebel Ali Free Zone in Dubai, UAE. The building occupies 5000 m2 of space, including a 3500 m2 air handling unit factory, two office floors for its regional functions, and a state-of-the-art training academy.

Sustainability Approach

Daikin’s approach to the building retrofit is in line with its goal towards achieving its Environmental Vision 2050 with a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.The retrofit solutions focused on facilitating the functions that will be performed in the building, with specific attention to the building users’ comfort, the building’s environmental impact, and the alignment with the national and global energy conservation regulations and strategies.

This has been achieved by focusing on the following areas:

  • Energy efficient air conditioning equipment
  • High level of indoor air quality
  • Energy management systems
  • Efficient lighting and controls
  • Innovative environmental solutions
Air Conditioning Systems

Air Conditioning Systems

It is commonly known that air conditioning systems’ energy consumption is the highest in a building while operating in high ambient temperatures. Daikin has selected in-house designed and manufactured systems to achieve the highest part load efficiency throughout the year with emphasis on high ambient performance and compliance with ESMA Energy Efficiency Performance regulations.


Air Conditioning Systems

In the offices open space and meeting rooms, Daikin has selected a Multi split VRV system with a total cooling capacity of 341 kW. A total of 13 outdoor unit modules are connected to 54 different indoor units across the open space office and meeting rooms. While achieving a high level of temperature control for the different zones, this system is capable to adjust its power consumption to allow for the highest levels of partial load energy efficiency. All thermostats are set at 25oC and have an in-built function to limit the minimum setpoint to 20oC as per ESMA guidelines.



In the factory and academy facilities, the cooling system needs to cover the heat load of the same area. An air-cooled inverter liquid chiller is installed and connected to the air handling unit and water fan coil units located in many parts of the ground floor. The factory area is maintained at 27°C when ambient temperature is above 33°C. When the temperature falls below 33°C, the cooling system is not utilized, but rather the ventilation system only. The inverter AC chiller adjusts its power consumption in relation to the building heat load as well as the outside air temperature.

In the individual function rooms, cooling requirements could be independent from the office and factory areas. For this reason, Daikin has selected a standalone wall mounted inverter split system using inverter technology and low Global Warming Potential (GWP) refrigerants to achieve the lowest carbon emissions while ensuring a high level of comfort.


Control system design

Energy Management Systems

The energy efficiency of the air conditioning systems is enhanced by a group controller known as the Intelligent Touch Manager that allows the limiting of temperature set points and scheduling of the operation in line with the building occupancy to avoid energy wastage.

Usually, all thermostats are set at 25°C. Energy consumption is demonstrated in a graph format, which displays the expected and real data. The Energy Navigator function allows wasted energy detection, while showing units operating out of operation period limits or having too high or too low set points.

Also, different energy consumption related data are recorded in case further analysis is required. It is also worth mentioning that all system operating parameters and malfunction alarms in the Building Management Systems (BMS) could be accessed remotely via Daikin’s VRV Cloud and Daikin On-Site Monitoring Programs.

Indoor Air Quality

Efficient Lighting and Controls

The indoor high efficiency LED lighting is controlled through a local switch, sensor, or through the BMS. Daylight harvesting is implemented in areas near the glassed exteriors of the building. Unnecessary lights are switched off during non-activity hours to conserve energy. Open office area lights are primarily operated through a weekly timer based on office hours. After office hours, these lights are controlled using presence detection. In case there is no movement for more than 20 minutes, the lights of the covered zone switch off automatically. The same applies for meeting rooms, which are equipped with presence intelligent switches. Upon entering the room, the person can turn on the lights using the intelligent switch.

Environmental Building Solutions

Innovative Environmental Building Solutions

To reduce water consumption, condensate water that forms in the indoor unit is channeled towards a tank and is used to irrigate the plantation around the building. Approximately 45 Gallons per day of condensate water is used to irrigate the company’s employees farm using drip irrigation tubes.

Led by Daikin’s Chairman, a bio farm has seen the light and seasonal crops as well as plants such as tomatoes, roses, sunflowers and permanent plants such as Baobabs are grown and cultivated.


To reduce waste, wooden packaging from incoming deliveries is used to produce wooden chairs and tables for use in employees garden and to manufacture wooden green plant pots.

paper recycle

Office wastepaper is collected on a regular basis by a recycling company. Till date, 1624 kgs of paper has been recycled which is equivalent to saving 27 trees or 11,368 Gallons of water.

The factory wasted material is segregated properly. Waste metal is collected on a regular basis by a recycling company. More than 3 Tons of metal has been recycled this year. Hazardous waste, which does not count more than .001% of total waste, is collected by an authorized waste collection company.

electric forklifts

- The factory’s warehouse uses two permanent all-electric forklifts to avoid any carbon emission generation from fuel burning.


To reduce emissions and to encourage use of public transportation, office group transportation was set with pre-defined and regular schedules to and from the closest metro station in order to encourage employees to use public transportation

The Car Park is shaded and equipped with solar powered lighting that automatically operates in low light conditions.


Indoor Air Quality

The rise in energy-efficient building designs is increasing the need for proper ventilation systems. Energy efficient buildings require more insulation to reduce heating and cooling loss. This means that the air inside the building lingers longer and becomes stale. The stale air also puts the building at a greater risk of allergies, residual odors, condensation, mold and more.

The Fresh Air Handling Units (FAHU) that are installed in the building and manufactured on the same site are designed as per ASHRAE ventilation guidelines to bring in fresh air, filter it from volatile particles, and cool it on a chilled water coil supplied by the Inverter Air Cooled chillers. Fresh air is supplied into the different work areas in the building. The FAHU ensures sufficient and more frequent air changes per hour as a COVID-19 countermeasure to increase the building ventilation rate.

Air flows into a sand separator to reduce the dust level of PM 2.5 before going through high efficiency MERV8 filters. The sand separator elongates filter life and helps in maintaining its efficiency. Also, two CO2 sensors are placed in the return air duct. These sensors trigger an increase in the fan speed in case the CO2 level is higher than the set limit. In addition, a double heat recovery wheel is added to the Air Handling Unit to recover cool air from the returned air to the building and this ensures saving energy in normal times. Ventilation equipment use high efficiency fan motors that ensure lower sound levels, reduced power loss, increased longevity and variable speed as compared to traditional fans.

The COVID-19 situation imposed certain modifications to the ventilation system, and these include the following:

• Increase the rate of fresh air changes by 20%

• Continuous operation of the FAHU system

• Upgrade to MERV 11 filters for the FAHU system

• Disable the heat recovery wheel to stop returned air circulation

• Disable CO2-based demand ventilation since the supply is 100% fresh air


Next Steps towards Retrofitting

Green building retrofit is a continuous journey of checking, acting, and involving all buildingm occupants to further reduce the building’s power consumption and its carbon emissions, and ultimately, reduce its negative environmental impact. Currently, Daikin is consuming an average of 78,000 kWh per month, and if projected on a yearly basis, this gives a power consumption of 178 kWh/m2/year. Daikin is continuously tracking opportunities to reduce the building’s energy consumption and as Daikin will shortly complete one year of operating its retrofitted building, through the tracking of its energy bills, Daikin intends to take the first year’s consumption as a baseline for future comparison. Daikin targets a 10% reduction of energy consumption in the following year.

Daikin’s next ambition that is currently under study is to generate solar electric power by installing PV panels on the roof of the building. This is to further reduce the building’s carbon footprint using renewable energy as the main power supply, which also feeds back to the grid any excess solar power generated.

Summary and Key Takeaways

In line with the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, the Dubai business community aims to head towards green buildings that reduce energy consumption, depend on renewable energy sources, and utilize sustainable building materials while ensuring the wellbeing of building occupants. This publication presents some of the best practices from five Dubai-based organizations.

The case studies highlight the need for relying on sustainable building materials and improving indoor air quality for occupants. In addition, the case studies present successful innovative methods implemented while retrofitting buildings to improve different areas of waste management, sustainable landscaping and farming, HVAC systems, the buildings’ general BMS, and green buildings’ certifications.

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