Dr Mugheer Al Khaili Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Urban Planning Council awards Estidama three pearl rating to the Abu Dhabi Education Council today at a press conference + box + pictures by Ahmed Kotty

Abu Dhabi The Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) has been awarded a three pearl rating certification for complying with the Urban Planning Council's Estidama (sustainability) standard in the design of ten new public schools.

The public schools, due to be ready next year, have earned the highest sustainability rating for the first time in the emirate as part of Adec's ten-year strategy plan to transform schools in the emirate into a sustainable development.

Five of the schools are located in the Abu Dhabi suburbs of Al Bateen, Al Shawamekh, Al Shamkha, Baniyas and the other five in the Al Ain suburbs of Al Yahar, Al Foah and Zakheer.

These schools have been designed using sustainable materials that will help reduce energy and water consumption, improve indoor air quality conditions and incorporate better waste management practices.

In addition, each school will be designed to use renewable energy technologies using solar and photovoltaic systems for water supply, and will monitor the use of energy through a building management system.

Water will be recycled and air-cooled conditioning systems will be introduced alongside shadings, which will be distributed in campuses in order to improve outdoor thermal conditions.

Alternative energy

"Nine per cent of the energy consumption in these schools will rely on alternative energy. We are focusing on the conservation of energy, water consumption and recycling of waste, and are working with the UPC to allocate more schools with energy sustainable measures," said Hamad Al Daheri, Adec's Infrastructure and Facilities Division manager.

In 2009, and before the Estidama pearl rating system was introduced by the UPC, Adec took the initiative and invested in introducing 23 new school buildings, each equipped with sustainable energy-efficient infrastructure.

Despite sustainable infrastructure being a costly process, Adec remains committed to providing its students with a healthier learning environment, according to Dr Mugheer Al Khaili, Adec Director General.

Sustainability focus

"Students are the nucleus of a society, and introducing sustainable initiatives in schools will result in better student and teacher achievement. This initiative is a benchmark example to be followed by the communities where schools are located. Estidama will touch multiple facets in people's daily lives and in school curriculums," said Dr Al Khaili.

As per Adec's Future Schools Programme — Alberto Treves, educational facilities design section manager at Adec told Gulf News that Adec plans to design 100 public schools using high levels of sustainability in the next ten years. In the beginning of 2012, Adec and UPC will also work with university students in efforts to promote the concept of sustainability.

Rating system

Abu Dhabi's Plan 2030 establishes a clear vision for sustainability as the foundation of any new development occurring in the emirate.

Estidama promotes a new mindset for building a forward-thinking global capital. To establish a distinctive overarching framework for measuring sustainability performance beyond the usual planning and construction phases, UPC has worked with the team guiding Estidama to assure that sustainability is continually addressed through four pre-defined angles: environmental, economic, social and cultural.

— Source: Urban Planning Council