Achieving significant water and energy savings is possible for companies and does not require large investments.
That was the message today from five organisations honoured by the Emirates Wildlife Society - World Wide Fund for Nature.
The five are part of a group of 50 private companies taking part in Heroes of the UAE, an environmental initiative encouraging efficiency. It requires members to reduce their carbon footprint from energy and water use by at least 10 per cent over one year, to document their progress and submit a case study, and to establish a long-term strategy for further reductions of carbon emissions.
The five organisations all surpassed the target, achieving savings of between 11 per cent and 55 per cent in energy use, and 28 per cent and 89 per cent in water use. They are the first five to document their experiences in case studies, which were then independently reviewed by the accounting firm Ernst & Young.
The ceremony today was attended by Dr Rashid bin Fahad, the Minister of Environment and Water.
"This is really an excellent sign of commitment we are seeing from the private sector," he said.
Among the five honourees is the Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi, where procedural changes and a programme to train housekeeping staff helped the hotel cut back its energy usage by 21 per cent and its water usage by 31 per cent.
At the Crowne Plaza, as well as the other four organisations, measures included regular maintenance of air-conditioning equipment and setting the thermostat at slightly higher temperatures.
In the case of the Dubai-based Service City, the thermostat was set at 25°C or 26°C.
This and other measures, including reducing the working week from six to five days and installing efficient lighting equipment, allowed the company to save about 47 tonnes of carbon emissions per year, a reduction of 20 per cent.
Also praised were Dubai's Tecom Investments and the American University of Sharjah.
In its search for energy and water savings, the Dubai architecture consultancy, Archcorp, changed its office location.
The first motive behind the move was a reduction in rent and the desire for a better location, said Imran Afzal, the company's principal, but the amount of natural lighting and proximity to public transport were also important factors behind the decision.
The move to a newer, better-designed building, as well as fitting out a new office space with energy and water efficiency in mind, allowed the company to cut back its electricity use by 55 per cent and its water bill by 89 per cent.