May, 09 2024

RAK Center for Outdoor Comfort (RAKCOC) explores innovative solutions for open spaces, including outdoor AC

Launched by the American University of Ras Al Khaimah, it boasts state-of-the-art labs and experts in environmental science, engineering, and sustainable design

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The RAK Center for Outdoor Comfort (RAKCOC) at the American University of Ras Al Khaimah (AURAK) is driving a number of initiatives and research projects aimed at improving outdoor comfort in extreme weather conditions.

RAKCOC is working with municipal and urban planning authorities, hospitality sector and educational institutions in RAK to develop solutions for outdoor comfort. It completed its first project in March 2024, and data collection is scheduled to commence in the summer. The Center was a part of RAK government team during COP 28 in Dubai.

The Outdoor Comfort Center is a joint initiative between Ras Al Khaimah Municipality and AURAK dedicated to fostering practical applied research on outdoor comfort in the Middle East region.

Key research areas at RAKCOC include outdoor cooling approaches and technologies, resilient urban planning, materials science for extreme climates, and sustainable local energy solutions. The center focuses on improving outdoor thermal comfort with modest expenditure on resources to encourage people to spend extra hours in outside spaces by reducing thermal discomfort. The research is combining the advantages of low and high-tech solutions, using hybrid and multi-scale approaches.

“The RAK Center for Outdoor Comfort was launched to address the many challenges faced by hot desert climate in improving outdoor comfort,” said Dr. David A. Schmidt, President of AURAK. “A team of global experts is pursuing multi-level research to implement fresh ideas in elevating comfort levels for outdoors through cutting-edge innovations and providing policy makers with unique solutions. AURAK is pleased to be at the forefront of new initiatives that will in the long run trigger a major change in the way we manage outdoor cooling in hot weather.”

RAKCOC boasts state-of-the-art facilities, including research labs and testing areas. The project is managed by a dedicated team of experts in fields such as environmental science, engineering, and sustainable design. The team leading the project is composed of experienced researchers and research engineers, allowing them to combine practical and theoretical skills in the service of a unique project in the Arab region.

“The RAK Center for Outdoor Comfort is establishing partnerships with industry leaders, research institutions, and environmental organizations to support the collaborative effort in finding effective solutions to the region’s extreme weather,” said Prof. Youssef Diab, Prefigurator of RAK Center for Outdoor Comfort, AURAK. “This region presents peculiar challenges in improving outdoor comfort because of extreme heat during summer. This center is committed to finding innovative solutions and new technologies in partnership with different stakeholders, and with the proactive engagement and research projects of some great experts in this field.”

Partners in RAKCOC’s search for solutions to the region’s extreme weather include RAK Municipality, RAK Hospitality, RAK Academy, Marjan Island Development, RAK Real Estate, EMERGY, Mist America, Dewberry, ARUP and ICARDA.

A number of initiatives and projects have been initiated by RAKCOC. The Center has analyzed multiple schools in RAK with proposed solutions to improve comfort levels for students, encouraging them to spend time in the fresh air. RAKCOC has presented four complete plans to RAK Hospitality to upgrade selected hotel and resort spaces. It is working with RAK municipality to develop guidelines for implementing outdoor comfort solutions in public places.

RAKCOC plays a role in mitigating the environmental impact of extreme weather adaptations. As outdoor spaces become more comfortable, the time spent in air-conditioned spaces will be reduced, thus contributing to sustainability in the long run.

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