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Eco-home on display at World Future Energy Summit

Eco-homes currently being built by Estidama and Sorouh are 20 per cent more energy efficient

Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: If you’re wondering how an eco-home is like, then you might want to check out the prototype eco-home by Estidama and Sorouh which is currently on display at the World Future Energy Summit, showing visitors that a home that is energy efficient could still have the same look and feel of a typical Emirati place.

“The idea of the ecohome actually started with the launch of Estidama two years ago where the government of Abu Dhabi and the UPC (Urban Planning Council) started this programme,” said Dr. Hassan Yasser Ebrahim, Senior Manager of Planning & Design Sustainability at Sorouh Real Estate.

Estidama, which is Arabic for sustainability, is an initiative by the UPC whose goal is to improve the quality of life through four aspects of sustainability: environmental, economic, social and cultural.

Sorouh is currently constructing two projects that comply with the Estidama requirements, a 600 unit project in Al Ain and a 448 unit project in Al Silaa, Western Region. These units have achieved 20 per cent less energy consumption and 30 per cent less water consumption than a regular house, Dr. Ibrahim said.

But what does it mean for a home to be compliant with Estidama design principles? Tariq Abbas, a consultant with the UPC, explained to Gulf News the different technical features of the prototype.

First of all, the house is painted with low VOC (volatile organic compound) paint, which releases fewer VOCs into the air after paint providing a much healthier environment. The windows are thermally broken, meaning they prevent the heat outside from going inside the house which in turn requires less cooling inside the house. Water fixtures are designed to limit the flow of water, which according to the Estidama requirements is no more than six litres per minute. Bathrooms must be equipped with a dual flush, where one full flush is also no more than six litres. Air conditioning is much more energy efficient where less electricity is used. In the construction process, walls are made up of either insulated concrete blocks or precast insulated panels which are also energy efficient.

Dr. Ebrahim said that while these features are currently available and easy accessible on the market, it seems to be taking sometime before their usage becomes a widespread practice.

“We have faced huge challenges with contractors, with the suppliers, with everyone, in terms of finding the right product, certifying the product and negotiating the prices because the minute you are asking for something that is for Estidama they will double the price,” said Dr. Ebrahim. “Estidama is simply proper design and proper construction.”