Stock - Dubai Sustainable city
Developers in the UAE are moving well away from one concept fits all buyer tastes' approach. With projects in Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and Muscat, The Sustainable City model sure is taking wings. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The ‘Sustainability City’ push is ready to roll in Abu Dhabi, with offplan sales and construction work set to launch later this year itself. Located on Yas Island, the developer expects to maintain a tight 30-month construction for completion.

The project aims to create a community built to the latest sustainable living practices, and a concept that has been tried and tested in Dubai and being recreated in Sharjah. “We have high expectations that investors and end-users will snap up these properties in Abu Dhabi,” said Salah Habib, CEO of Diamond Developers, the builder.

“Sharjah Sustainable City is currently at 95 per cent completion in Phase 1, and 25 per cent complete overall. There will be a total of 1,252 units to house environmentally conscious families and individuals.”

Whether its Tilal Al Ghaf (from Majid Al Futtaim Properties in Dubai), Damac Lagoons, Arada’s Masaar in Sharjah, developers are moving away from plain-vanilla residential communities. Whether it’s adding a beach or a water element or creating a ‘forest’, the emphasis is to do things different.

Image Credit: Supplied

On this score Sustainable City’s various iterations do work. “Because sustainability is a continuous journey, new projects must capture tried-and-tested tech advances in food, energy, water, products, mobility, and waste,” said Habib. “For example, our solar PV modules in Sharjah are 30 per cent more efficient than in Dubai, and PV modules in Abu Dhabi will be 20 per cent more efficient than in Sharjah.

“In other words, our projects accommodate incremental innovation (higher efficiency panels) as well as disruptive innovation (such as peer-to-peer energy trading and EV car sharing).”

It all started with The Sustainable City Dubai, at Dubailand. Operational for seven years, the City features five residential clusters, a farm, horse stable, school and a central plaza with offices and apartments.

Recently, Diamond Developers launched The Sustainable Homes, 51 short-stay, studio apartments there “The project allows visitors, residents, and tourists to experience sustainable living and enjoy Dubai with a significantly reduced carbon footprint,” said Habib. “We completed the masterplan with the region’s first net zero carbon building, SEE Institute, in October.

“Our project is a true testament to a live-work-thrive culture.”

Buy in

Investors and end-users are buying into the concept. Even with limited new inventory, The Sustainable City Dubai recorded relatively high demand during the first-half of this year, according to data from fam Properties.

Going all sustainable in Oman - and with records in mind
The Sustainable City Yiti in Oman will be Diamond Developers’ biggest project to date.

It will have be ‘largest operational sustainable community in the world, with ambitions to be the first net zero carbon community in the region by 2040’.

The project spans around 1 million square meters and an investment value of $1 billion. There will be 300 villas and more than 1,225 apartments to house 10,000 residents.

The EV model

Here’s another way to look at whether sustainable living strikes a chord with buyers.

“At the initial launch of the project, we had just one electric vehicle within the community, which was actually owned by the founder (of Diamond Developers), and a humble five-vehicle charging station,” the CEO said. “Today, the community proudly hosts over 60 EVs, with 12 charging stations to support, and we plan on increasing the number of charging stations to 20.

“We believe that current incentives and ones that we introduced during the early years of the project, truly helped with the increase of EV acceptance within our community.” Previously, the City offered an EV incentive program of up to $10,000 and is currently working on introducing an EV sharing initiative.

A living, breathing model

“The Sustainable City in Dubai remains our living laboratory,” the CEO said. “Often, retrofits in Dubai provide the basis for new design and procurement decisions in other cities.

“For example, we recently upgraded the irrigation system in Dubai using the latest and smartest technology, and this has now been incorporated in the Sharjah development, and soon, in Abu Dhabi.

“Another retrofit that is underway in Dubai relates to upgrading the EV chargers from basic to smart technology. Such upgrades become the new standard in our future projects. Other retrofits, such as replacing the PV modules with new and more efficient panels, will have to wait as they require a wider scale operation.”

Oman's the blueprint for more Sustainable City
"Needless to say, we are very excited about our expansion to Oman, Yiti. It is an ambitious and unprecedented project of its scale, not just in the region, but globally.

"The City - strategically located in Muscat - is designed to deliver measurable outcomes across all the three pillars of sustainability: social, environmental, and economic, bringing forward the UN emission reduction targets for 2050.

"The model ensures a reduction in carbon footprint, from design to operation, using innovation to achieve transformational societal change. It reduces the per capita carbon footprint of its residents by at least 75% compared to conventional housing and living in Oman.

"The development will rely 100% on renewable energy (solar and biogas) and achieve 100% water recycling, 100% waste diversion from landfill, and up to 80% self-sufficiency in food."