How much waste do mall goers generate in Dubai?

Benchmarking project involving seven shopping malls in Dubai reveal waste generation, electricity and water use

Staff Report
16:34 April 4, 2018

Dubai: A typical mall visitor generates more than half a kilo of waste, consumes more than 10 litres of water and uses 511 kWh of electricity per square metre in a year in Dubai, a new study revealed.

A UAE-based sustainability expert, Farnek, on Wednesday released the results of its first shopping mall benchmarking project in the Middle East that was designed to evaluate the energy, water and waste performance of each mall, against similar retail properties in Dubai.

Seven shopping malls in Dubai participated in the project and submitted their data about their consumption figures and general characteristics of their buildings.

Markus OberlinMarkus Oberlin, CEO of Farnek, said the retail sector is one of the largest energy consumers in the UAE and prior to this initiative, no benchmark figures were available for shopping malls anywhere in the Middle East.

“That obviously presented mall owners and operators with an issue of how to evaluate their energy and water consumption, and their waste management performance,” Oberlin said.

To come up with the figures, other variables had to be taken into consideration, including the amount of outdoor space, air-conditioning by type and distribution, and the percentage of leasable and common area, which varied between 15 per cent and 56 per cent.

Based on the data, a mall visitor generates 520 grams of waste, consumes 10.86 litres of water and use 511 kWh of energy per square metre for a year.

“[To give you an idea], 511 kWh is enough energy to run a fridge-freezer continuously for 365 days,” Oberlin said.

The key findings were recently presented to the Mall Stakeholders Group consisting of facilities management and retail professionals. Further insights will be showcased at the RetrofitTech Dubai Summit on April 10.

Sandrine Le BiavantFarnek director of Consultancy Sandrine Le Biavant, who was responsible for launching and monitoring the benchmarking project, said metering systems are integral for aligning industry key performance indicators, promoting sustainable best practice and providing an accurate monitoring system that will ultimately create better efficiencies.

“We continue to drive the industry forward, so it is encouraging to see a number of malls taking the initiative from an energy management perspective.”

To evaluate energy performance, the internationally recognised metric Energy Use Intensity (EUI) per unit of gross floor area was adopted. Results varied from a low of 320 kWh to a high of 627 kWh per square metre.

“A low performing mall uses almost twice as much energy as a better performing mall, underscoring the importance of a comprehensive energy management plan and the savings it can make,” Oberlin said.

To calculate water usage, Water Use Intensity (WUI) per visitor was used with the worst performing mall consuming 14.51 litres and the best just 7.3 litres per visitor.

“The results show that the potential water savings for some of the higher consumers is significant,” said Oberlin.

In terms of waste management, Farnek used the waste generation ratio per visitor and a diversion rate, which identified the amount of waste diverted from landfill. The results varied between 250 grams and 1.08kg per visitor, with malls on average diverting 23 per cent of their waste from landfill.

“A poor waste performing shopping centre generates over four times as much waste as the best performing mall and given the increased Dubai landfill rates that will come into force on 18th May, savings here could be considerable.”


A typical mall visitor generates 520gm of waste, consumes 10.86 litres of water and use 511 kWh of energy per square metre per year.

511 kWh = enough energy to run a fridge-freezer for 365 days

2x = energy used by low performing mall compared to better performing malls

4x = waste generated by poor waste performing shopping centre compared with best performing mall