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Mon 7 Jul 2008 04:00 AM

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Abu Dhabi moves forward on sustainability

Industry experts have welcomed the Estidama sustainable design guidelines released last month by Abu Dhabi's Urban Planning Council (UPC), saying such measures are 'long overdue'.

Industry experts have welcomed the Estidama sustainable design guidelines released last month by Abu Dhabi's Urban Planning Council (UPC), saying such measures are 'long overdue'.

Commenting on the new guidelines, which aim to encourage more sustainable design of residential and commercial buildings, Uwe Nienstedt, project manager at international design firm KEO, said: "Estidama is long overdue. It's about time that things were regulated."

"Estidama is a strong statement. The definition of sustainability needs to be specific for this region," said Stephen Oehme, regional director at Hyder Consulting.

The guidelines define a range of criteria to be met by designers in working on projects in the region. Called Estidama - meaning sustainability in Arabic - they are the first of their kind to be specifically formulated for the Middle East.

"Estidama is the cornerstone of our sustainability efforts, and we are extremely proud to be working with developers and other government departments across the Emirate to make it a success," said Falah Al Ahbabi, general manager of the UPC.

Outdoor design professionals and masterplanners can make a significant contribution to sustainable design, under the new guidelines, adding approximately 20 of the total 100 points available to a building's rating, according to calculations made by Commercial Outdoor Design.

Points can be awarded under various criteria include reducing the amount of water used in landscaping, improving site layout to encourage use of public transportation, using energy efficient exterior lighting, and adding green roofs.

Further points are added for masterplans that demonstrate ecological use of land, such as leaving spaces for preserving local biodiversity.

Other criteria under the guidelines include energy use, indoor environmental quality, transport, and waste management.

Certification under Estidama begins at a minimum of 35 points, which results in a One Pearl rating.

The highest rating available is the Five Pearl, which requires a minimum of 75 points.

The new guidelines are due to come into effect as regulations in the coming months, the UPC said.

In addition to the Estidama guidelines, the Emirates Green Building Council is in the process of drawing up guidelines under the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating for Dubai, while outside of the UAE, guidelines include the US Sustainable Sites Initiative from the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).

For more information on the guidelines, see the Estidama link on the UPC website, www.upc.gov.ae, or www.estidama.com.

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