Property | UAE

Building maintenance to be made sustainable

Operational efficiency to be monitored by Urban Planning Council, under its Estidama Pearl Rating System

  • By Samihah Zaman; Staff Reporter
  • Published: 15:14 April 18, 2013
  • Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The maintenance of new buildings across the emirate of Abu Dhabi will soon be guided by mandatory sustainability requirements, following an announcement by the Urban Planning Council (UPC) today (Wednesday).

Building operations will be guided by the UPC’s Estidama Pearl Rating System (PRS). The new component is officially known as the Pearl Operational Rating System.

Estidama, which has been in place since 2010, currently requires all new buildings, villas and communities in Abu Dhabi emirate to achieve a one-pearl rating during building design and construction, and a two-pearl rating for government facilities. With the new addition to the PRS, the energy and water use of a building, as well as its overall operational efficiency, will also be monitored by the UPC.

“The operational ratings will be applicable only for new buildings constructed under the Estidama requirements. It will help ensure that buildings are maintained sustainably during their lifespan, and is also expected to increase building longevity,” Edwin Young, Estidama programme manager at the UPC, told Gulf News.

The announcement was made alongside the ongoing Cityscape Abu Dhabi conference, which concludes in the capital tomorrow (Thursday).

Currently, nearly 720,000 square metres have been built following Estidama principles, including buildings, schools, government structures and medical facilities. Another 9.3 million square metres of gross floor area have received design Estidama ratings, and 4.8 million square metres are under construction.

“Over the next 18 months, the UPC will test water and energy use across newly constructed Estidama-compliant buildings to establish benchmarks for water use, energy use and other components. These buildings, or pilot structures, include 10 public schools in the emirate, mixed-use buildings and hundreds of villas,” Young said.

Operational efficiency

Education facilities and government developments can apply for operational ratings one year after construction. On the other hand, other structures must achieve 80 per cent occupancy before applying, or complete two years after construction.

“This is because operational efficiency can only be tested once a building is occupied, and that usually takes about two years for office blocks and mixed-use buildings,” Young explained.

If a building or villa is maintained in an unsustainable manner, the UPC will discuss with operators how its maintenance processes can be made more efficient.

Asked if the new rating requirements will raise maintenance costs, Young said no such increase is expected.

Mohammad Al Khadar, the executive director for development review and Estidama at the UPC, said the operational rating system will ensure that energy use, performance and efficiency is supervised for buildings and their systems.

Four main factors will be considered for the operational rating, namely integrated operation management, systems and procedures, building performance, and operation and maintenance, he added.

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