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Sat 6 Dec 2008 04:00 AM

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Green shopping

Mirdif City Centre is the first shopping centre in the region to follow sustainable construction techniques.

Mirdif City Centre is the first shopping centre in the region to follow environmentally friendly and sustainable construction techniques from the design phase through to the building stages, reports Shikha Mishra.

Located on Emirates Road and Tripoli street along Dubai's Eastern growth corridor - Mirdif City Centre will be a shopping mall with a difference. A green difference.

"The centre will adopt Leed standards; a rating system developed in the US and used by the Emirates Green Building council as the methodology for measuring sustainability in the UAE," says Richard Reid, senior vice-president of MAF Developments.

With the environmental concerns that we are faced with, adopting standards such as Leed is a responsible and prudent decision that businesses are aiming for. - Richard Reid, senior vice-president, MAF Developments.

The centre is being developed by Majid Al Futtaim Shopping Malls, and it will be built on a two-level retail space spread over a gross leasable area of 196,000m2 and a three-level car park with capacity for 7000 cars. The mall will have more than 430 retail outlets with provision for eight anchor stores, including Carrefour.

"There are 6500 workers involved in the construction of Mirdif City Centre. Construction work on the project began on August, 15, 2007, and is on target for a late 2009 opening," says Reid.

The design of Mirdif City Centre uses a simple, rectangular, racetrack layout, with nodes at its intersections, to act as areas for the mall's anchor stores. One particular main feature is a central street, which bisects the mall and forms a series of themed, interconnecting rooms that will be covered with roof structures spanning up to 20m in height. This public space is designed to be an active urban zone that progresses from the landscaped entrance right through the heart of the scheme.

Landscaping and nature form key elements within this new development. The garden area outside the mall's main entrance will be an ideal place to spend time during the winter months and the mall's interior will incorporate water features and tall palms.

"This outdoor feature seamlessly integrates with the indoor landscaping through the use of solar reflective glass, which helps to utilise the maximum amount of natural light during the day, while at the same time protecting the building from becoming overheated," says Reid.

The design of the building is being carried out by two consultants - international design architects RTKL and local architect Holfords.

"With the environmental concerns that we are faced with, adopting standards such as Leed is a responsible and prudent decision that businesses are aiming for. Mirdif City Centre is our first step in this direction and it will allow us to witness the benefits of eco-friendly construction techniques. We are among the first shopping centres in the region implementing such sustainable construction," says Reid.MAF adopted Leed as the sustainability measurement methodology, as it's currently the most credible system known across the globe, and the most acknowledged in the region.

There are, however, other methodologies being introduced into the region such as "Estidama," which has been developed by the Abu Dhabi government as their own rating system. It is similar to Leed but more adapted to the regional conditions.

"Leed will certainly be important to the group for all major developments in the medium term. In the long term, it may be that new building regulations will obviate the need for Leed or new methodologies may eclipse Leed and be deemed to be more appropriate, in the future," says Reid.

There are 6,500 workers involved in the construction of Mirdif City Centre. Construction work on the project began on August 15, 2007, and is on target for a late 2009 opening. - Richard Reid, senior vice-president, MAF Developments.

The key factors to a successful sustainable development include good design and good construction management, adopting best practice procedures and to deliver environmental, energy and water consumption targets. These are the principles that have been used in all previous Majid Al Futtaim developments, but are being highlighted in the Mirdif City Centre.

Mirdif City Centre is the company's flagship pilot scheme aiming to implement the Leed procedures and protocols, to allow them to witness the benefits of eco-friendly construction techniques.

"These protocols and procedures have been incorporated into our own sustainable development guidelines so that our approach to design and construction is consistent with Leed," says Reid.

The building is being predominately constructed from concrete that provides high thermal mass coupled with double glazing. The building envelop structure, external walls, floor, glazing and roof are highly efficient in reducing the solar heat gain into the mall. This reduces the size of the cooling plant and therefore the energy demand.

The mall's double glazing has been selected to reduce the solar heat gain while maximising the daylight transmission.

The mall roof is constructed from 300mm insitu concrete with 120mm of polystyrene insulation and an 80mm concrete screed, which provides a high thermal mass and low thermal transmission.

The external roof surface is treated with a special solar reflective white paint which reflects and dissipates the solar heat not only to further reduce the mall's cooling load but also to reduce the "heat island" effect.

The mall and retail units are connected to an on-site mini district cooling system which is a highly energy efficient system for providing cooling.The district cooling to mall and retail units allows diversity factors to be applied which reduce the size of the centralised refrigeration plant.

The district cooling plant incorporates variable speed technology to high  co-efficient of performance/efficiency measurement centrifugal chillers, cooling towers and circulating pumps to reduce energy and is connected to a variable flow-chilled water distribution system which meets best practice system energy efficiency standards of circa 0.7 kw/tonnes.

The chilled water distribution system uses variable flow technology to match supply to demand which reduces the pumping power consumption.

The fresh air volume supplied to the mall is modulated via CO2 sensors to match supply to occupancy which reduces the cooling load energy consumption.

Exhaust air is passed through a thermal transfer system which pre-cools the incoming fresh air to reduce the chiller plant energy consumption.

The design illumination levels of the mall have been reduced from 500 to 400lux and low energy T5 with electronic ballasts and compact fluorescent lighting fittings will be used throughout the structure. Time switch and occupancy controlled lights will also be used to significantly reduce the energy consumed for artificial lighting.

The mall is being designed to use water efficiently by using low water consumption fittings including waterless urinals and ultra low flow dual flush closets and occupancy sensors to reduce waste from faucets.

Native and adaptive plants will be provided for landscaping to reduce the water demand for irrigation and a drip irrigation system installed using recycled water.

The cooling tower water make up is also from a recycled source to reduce the use of potable water.

"Materials are being selected which contain elements of recycled content and which can be resourced locally to reduce transportation, such as the glazing and concrete products. Wood products are only being sourced from FSC certified suppliers," says Reid.

Materials used in the mall, such as carpets and paints, will have low volatile organic compounds content and construction waste has been minimised.

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