COE/E Net-Zero Buildings Workshop Addresses Challenges in Energy and Carbon Reduction

Cairo, Egypt, May 2024 – Arizona State University Professor Emeritus Dr. Harvey Bryan led the Net-Zero Buildings Workshop at Ain Shams University from May 12 to 14, 2024. Hosted by the USAID-funded Center of Excellence for Energy, the workshop examined the global challenges facing government and industry as they strive to meet net-zero energy and carbon targets and the increasing recognition of buildings as one of the most critical sectors for addressing emissions under the Paris Agreement.

The workshop facilitated conversations on net-zero building challenges and strategies among faculty and students at Arizona State University’s three Egyptian partner universities: Ain Shams, Mansoura, and Aswan, as well as other energy industry stakeholders, with around 90 participants in attendance.

“Addressing Egypt’s energy challenges requires innovative solutions and modern energy education, spanning across various sectors including the built environment,” expressed Dr. Sayfe Kiaei, project director and professor at Arizona State University. “By sharing advanced knowledge and technologies in energy efficiency and renewable energy, we are helping to build a skilled workforce that can drive the country’s energy transition and secure its energy future.”

With over 40 years of experience, Dr. Harvey Bryan is a specialist in building technology who focuses on the interface between technology and the design of ecologically responsible environments. During the workshop, he highlighted the critical role of net-zero and decarbonized buildings in tackling climate change – emphasizing the need for a holistic approach that considers operational, embodied, and value-chain carbon to achieve meaningful reductions. Dr. Bryan reviewed the recently emerged net-zero energy/carbon reduction targets in the United States, where several states and local governments are utilizing energy-efficient building approaches.

“Some things can’t be transferred but a lot of things can be transferred. It’s about giving students and others the tools and showing them how we’ve done it. So, learn from our mistakes and from the process we’ve been through.” – Dr. Harvey Bryan

Sharing various strategies to achieve net-zero energy and carbon emissions in buildings, Dr. Bryan stressed the necessity of transitioning to full electrification, highly efficient equipment, and grid-interactive buildings powered by renewable energy. Attendees learned about computer simulation tools for comparing design options, as well as how to apply an integrative approach and climate-responsive design. Dr. Bryan used Arizona State University’s first net-zero energy building as an example.

“I benefited greatly from learning about passive design as a strategy for net-zero buildings, and I plan on integrating it into my graduation project,” noted Abdelrahman Mahmoud, architectural engineering senior at Aswan University

Day two of the workshop focused on building materials, tools for measuring embodied carbon, and life cycle assessment in building design and construction. Dr. Bryan also examined net-zero strategies for existing buildings, proposing building energy disclosure requirements as a method for existing buildings to reach net-zero targets.

“While discussions often revolve around implementing net-zero practices in upcoming constructions, this session demonstrated the significance of enhancing existing buildings to lower energy consumption and carbon emissions,” stated Dr. Mona El Wazir, Sustainable Architecture Programme director at Mansoura University. “Of course, this viewpoint expanded my research possibilities and prospects for future work.”

Informing attendees on Egypt’s net-zero building practices, progress, and future plans were six Egyptian specialists from industry, government, and academia: ASHRAE Cairo Chapter member Dr. Hesham Safwat, LEED fellow and Edge certification expert Eng. Karim Farah, Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Energy and Environment Consultant Eng. Ahmed Abdrabo, Housing and Building Research Center Professor Dr. Ashraf Kamal, Ain Shams University Head of Urban Design and Planning Department Dr. Mohamed Salheen, and Hassan Allam Holding Sustainability Manager and Center of Excellence for Energy Exchange Program alumna Eng. Mennatullah Mahmoud.

“Many industrial companies were present with us today. So, what took place were discussion sessions. We didn’t come for a lecture; rather, it was a dialogue on the latest ideas and the latest technologies being applied,” expressed Dr. Loai Nassrat, Aswan University vice president.

The final day of the workshop featured a field visit to the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), encompassing a case-study presentation by members of the design team. Workshop participants toured the museum and learned about the sustainable design features and energy-efficient building strategies applied at the GEM, including a reflective roof, external shading for thermal comfort, resource-efficient lighting, and water fixtures, in addition to the use of smart meters for energy consumption. The GEM was recently awarded the international EDGE Advanced green-building certification — making it the first museum in Africa and the Middle East, and among a few worldwide, to receive this award.

The Center of Excellence for Energy is funded by USAID with the support of the American people with a goal to help Egypt reach its target of 42% renewable energy by 2035 and position the country as a regional leader in clean energy. The center is operated by Arizona State University in partnership with three Egyptian universities: Ain Shams, Mansoura, and Aswan.

The U.S. Agency for International Development administers the U.S. foreign assistance program providing economic and humanitarian assistance in more than 80 countries worldwide.

This announcement is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of Center of Excellence for Energy and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.



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