Hoehler & Partner, a Germany-based architecture and engineering firm, is currently doing research on heat insulation. Mohammad Sultan al Salmy, managing director, Hoehler & Partner (Oman), said, “Insulation is not that expensive but it has to be installed by professionals. Several other factors also come into play, such as size and glazing of windows, orientation of the house, direction of wind, etc.”
Salmy said that these factors were taken into consideration in old villages, which had narrow streets and walls made of thick mud bricks – a material that dissipates heat as opposed to concrete which absorbs and stores it. “Houses in villages had small windows and cross-ventilation and were bunched together to avoid direct sun exposure,” he said. “When we designed the new GUtech campus in Halban, we used certain techniques to ensure the temperature in the main building is five degrees lower than the temperature outside. We also designed the building to take full advantage of the wind.”
Mark Boughton, general manager at Az Zaha Services and Building Contractors, said, “We install roof insulation, which costs RO2.2 per m2 in all government and private projects. However, wall insulation has to be specified by the customer.
“We’ve built over 100 villas to date, and we’re currently installing wall insulation at one of our ongoing projects for the first time.”
M S Raval, head, buildings and factories, Larsen & Toubro (Oman), said, “Insulation cost is usually one to two per cent of the total building’s cost. As most buildings have roof waterproofing or insulation, only external walls need to be taken care of. Insulation makes sense if one is conscious about the environment and non-renewable energy resources. As power is cheap here, offices have air conditioners running continuously and lights switched on even during nights.”
He said that there are several other ways to save power. “A small-sized room with proper insulation will help in reducing power consumption.
“Architecture is also important. Generally, buildings are designed like boxes in which lighting and ventilation are always planned from artificial sources.
“Natural elements like light and wind can be used effectively when the weather is permitting, thereby saving power.”