UAE | Environment

Abu Dhabi green buildings to improve environment and health

Residents to enjoy new eco-friendly lifestyle

  • By Binsal Abdul Kader, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 20:12 August 18, 2013
  • Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: More than 13,500 children in Abu Dhabi Emirate are to study in sustainable school buildings that offer health benefits by boosting indoor air quality.

“These buildings improve indoor air quality because paint that does not cause air pollution is being used in them,” officials said on Sunday.

Of the 406 projects under Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council’s (UPC) Estidama (Arabic for sustainability) initiative 50 schools and 10,000 villas in the emirate are included.

Residents of these new buildings will have a new eco-friendly lifestyle, said Mohammad Al Khadar, the UPC’s Executive Director for Development Review and Estidama. The area of the new buildings being constructed under the green initiative of Abu Dhabi Government has crossed the ten million metre square gross floor area (GFA) mark, with the recent construction launch of Zayed Higher Organisation for Humanitarian Care Special Needs Centre located in the Western Region, officials announced on Sunday.

These sustainable buildings that are part of Abu Dhabi Government’s ambitious initiative not only minimise energy and water consumption but improve the occupants’ health as well, Al Khadar said.

Of more than ten million GFA of buildings, construction of one million GFA has already been completed, six million GFA are under construction and the remaining three million GFA will be started by the third quarter of next year.

The UPC expects that total GFA of buildings with ‘pearl ratings’ will reach 146 million by 2030. Estidama programme’s Pearl Rating System (PRS) launched in September 2010 is mandatory for all new buildings in the emirate but not applicable to existing buildings even when they are renovated.

“But all buildings constructed since September 2010 have strictly followed this system,” said Edwin Young, Estidama Programme Manager at the UPC.

A rating is given based on the credit points the building achieves with certain specified eco-friendly measures. Sixty credit points win one pearl rating and corresponding higher credits give the rating up to five pearls.

Buildings in the private sector must attain at least one pearl rating and the government sectors at least two.

However, 12 per cent of projects have submitted for a rating higher than their minimum mandated requirement.

About 70 per cent of the new buildings in the emirate are in the government sector, the officials said.

Concrete reality

Of more than 10,000 Estidama-rated villas within the emirate, 7,500 of them are 2 Pearl or 3 Pearl, they said.

Estidama has rated 23 mosques and now forms an integral part of the new Abu Dhabi Mosque Development Regulations

There are 15 universities under the programme

Al Khadar said “Estidama will help turn our ambition to create a new generation of sustainable cities into a concrete reality. Many of the developments that have achieved a Pearl Rating are now under construction or in use, and are a reflection of the UPC’s holistic approach to integrate sustainability concerns within the sphere of urban development right from the start.”

The market has positively responded to the programme, he said.

More than 2,300 products will be listed in the EVPD (Estidama Villa Product Database) before the end of 2013.

The programme has rated 33 different building typologies under the Pearl Building Rating System (PBRS) including hospitals, laboratories, data centres and industrial facilities.

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