Qatar Foundation (QF) is a beacon for sustainable practices. Ensuring its environmental policies are activated and maintained on a daily basis is a central responsibility of QF, which has several key strategic objectives in this area.
For a large site such as QF, waste management is one of the greatest areas impacting sustainability practices.
Engineer Rashid Mubarak Al Naimi, Director – Facilities Management (FM) General Services Department, explained what this means. “From an environmental perspective, the collection of waste is divided into recyclables and general waste. Collection and transport from QF is contracted to outsourced service providers,” he said.
General waste is subdivided into different groups with the hazardous and biomedical waste from research laboratories, which are not always recyclable, for example, needing specialist collection and processing.
Recyclable waste, segregated at source, was first monitored in a pilot project at QF in 2014. Following its success, the scheme is now being implemented on an operational basis.
“From a management viewpoint, the main involvement of FM is in supervising and monitoring the contractors,” Engineer Al Naimi added. The directorate compiles daily waste disposal manifest reports.
“Recyclable waste is segregated at source. By far the largest volume is paper, which goes to a locally based factory for recycling, and plastic which is also reprocessed locally,” he said.
The recycling scheme is dependent on the QF community to undertake its role segregating waste at source. Ongoing education initiatives are undertaken by Health, Safety, Security and Environment (HSSE) in collaboration with FM, reminding QF staff and students of their responsibilities.
With a wish for continual development and improvement, Al Naimi explained how the next phase of FM’s recycling program will hopefully involve the re-use of electronics.
“The issue at the moment is to find a manufacturer locally that can handle the waste items. In-country recycling is much preferred, since long-distance shipping is not always environmentally viable,” he said.
Organic waste from AL SHAQAB, a member of QF, and food waste from the restaurants at QF also offer the potential for recycling. Waste collected is currently monitored under general waste and does not feature in QF’s own recycling figures. However, the waste does enter a government-led scheme that results in the production of fertilizer.
“The ultimate goal has to be to reduce waste at source,” Engineer Al Naimi explained. “A plan is now being put together to reduce paper waste by up to 20 percent over the next year and perhaps up to 50 to 70 percent over the next five years.”
FM plays a key role maintaining the renewable technologies installed across QF. Solar and wind resources have a vital role producing energy and offsetting power consumption, while greywater reuse offers water-saving potential.
The solar power panels installed at Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC), and the female and male student housing generated a combined total of 259,197KWh in June 2015 alone, while wind turbines produced an average of 301KWh per month throughout 2014.
Production and re-use of grey water has sites at the male and female student housing and QNCC and generates an average of 4,872 m3 of grey-water per month.
Khalid Al Yacoub, Operations Manager – South Campus, Operations & Maintenance Department, within FM, explained how maintenance is undertaken on a daily basis.
“For the renewables and greywater reuse systems, monitoring is carried out twice during a 24 hour period by a QF senior operator and support staff, provided by our service partner.
“They are doing working tests as well as visual checks. Abnormal noise and reduced output is often the first and immediate indicator that equipment needs attention outside scheduled servicing.
“The greywater re-use system is a bit different because it may take two days before issues and an abnormal smell would be noticed without the daily checks.”
Maintenance also includes scheduled serving or Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM) and replacement of parts on a monthly and annual basis. “It’s a bit like servicing your car, you have to replace parts as needed and as scheduled,” Al Yacoub said.
“The PPM is much more extensive than daily monitoring, as we check and replace all the mechanics of the equipment.”
Renewable energy sources do face atmospheric challenges, but by using the latest technologies these are limited and automated where possible. Once wind speeds reach 30m/second the wind turbines automatically shut down as a safety precaution. Also, when wind speeds drop below 3.5m/second the turbines will stop due to insufficient wind.
“The cleaning of solar panels is one of our routine activities,” Al Yacoub said. “It is a case of reaching the end, and by that time the first one will be dirty again.”
From an operational stance, adding renewable energy technologies after a building has been constructed adds complexities. “Fitting solar panels, for example, after a building is completed is more challenging since there are constraints in terms of installation and timing,” Al Yacoub explained.
“The work has to be scheduled within a dedicated timeframe to minimize impact for the occupants and often the work space is small for laying cables and fitting the panels.”
Aside from waste collection, and the maintenance of renewable technologies FM is responsible for the landscaping around QF. Maintaining green surroundings is important but this is balanced alongside the demands placed on the environment. Grass lawns are high maintenance, whereas natural, hard, landscaping is sustainable and consumes less water.
“Irrigation is carefully monitored with several different timings according to the weather. In some areas we use artificial grass, which reduces water consumption,” Engineer Al Naimi said. “Desert planting is also being used increasingly. These plants thrive in the conditions and require less water.”
Thanks to the daily monitoring by FM’s dedicated staff, sustainability practices are being put into practice on a daily basis at QF.