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|24 Apr 2012|
World ecoConstruct Summit to focus on greener future for buildings in Middle East.
Abu Dhabi has laid the foundations for a future based on greener living in the Middle East, inducing a shift by regional developers towards adopting sustainable building practices, industry experts say.
The World ecoConstruct Summit taking place in the UAE capital was told that the establishment of a region-wide certification system based on Abu Dhabi's Estidama initiative and Pearl Rating System was now a logical step to accelerate the green building process.
"We should be using the example and lessons learnt from the Estidama programme to establish a new consistent base level across the UAE that may not have the full depth and detail of Estidama but raises the minimum standards," said Dr Rob Cooke, Associate at engineering consultants Buro Happold, UAE
Dr Cooke, highlighted a new era of green thinking in the region during a World ecoConstruct Summit panel discussion. "Several of the regional real estate developers we are currently working with include sustainability as one of their key requirements, which is a fantastic shift in the right direction," he said.
"I feel that clients in Abu Dhabi are more in tune with sustainability than in other Middle East regions, partially due to the introduction of Estidama, which they have been forced to embrace. We feel that the developers with a more international reach or exposure are also more in tune with global trends toward sustainable design."
Estidama - Arabic for sustainability - is an initiative developed by the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC) to preserve the Emirate's physical and cultural identity, while improving the quality of life for residents on four equal pillars of sustainability: environmental, economic, social, and cultural. The Pearl Rating System is a point-based scheme that awards construction projects credit points grouped under seven sustainable criteria categories.
Added Dr Cooke: "The best sustainability projects are those that create a balance and are designed to be future proof, often not big impact projects but ones that come in to their own over time. It's key that these developments can demonstrate added value by maintaining long-term economic viability.
"The Aga Khan award-winning Wadi Hannifah, Riyadh, is a clear demonstration of how integrated thinking can create something that generates social, environmental and economic improvement to a region. We have provided environmental remediation to the Wadi and its environments, transforming this once polluted water course into a social and economic space for the population of Riyadh and its environs."
Ivar Krasinski, Design Director with architects STR-EDGE, UAE, and another speaker at the World ecoConstruct Summit said contrary to conventional wisdom, sustainable buildings can actually reduce capital expense. "Costs can be kept down by allowing the areas where different design disciplines overlap to be optimized. This means that if the architect takes the input of structural and MEP engineers on board early, we can reduce the cost of the facade, structure and MEP system while improving building performance.
"Companies on the client side can benefit from sustainability just by insisting on integrated design since this approach can lower capital expenditure significantly. This means that sustainability is more than just a PR strategy, and actually helps the financial model of a project and the client's bottom line."
Added Krasinski: "The Pearl rating system is one of the first to include points for integrated design approach, and weighs this part of the process quite heavily. Because of this it is a world leader in pushing clients and firms toward integrated design, and outperforms some of those which preceded it. It is possible to achieve a very high rating with poor energy performance and high capital expenditure in the older systems. With Estidama this is far less likely."
WORLD ecoConstruct is the region's only dedicated exhibition focusing on sustainable design and construction for the built environment. Co-located at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre with the 6th edition of Cityscape Abu Dhabi, it provides a crucial sourcing and knowledge platform for the billions of dollars committed to major projects within Abu Dhabi and the surrounding region.
Yasmeen Sadah, Director and Regulations at the Abu Dhabi Deparment of Municipal affairs, Foundation Partners for World ecoConstruct said: "Sustainability is the foundation of any new and existing development in Abu Dhabi. The DMA is committed to establishing a distinctive overarching framework for measuring sustainability performance and will work continuously to achieve excellence in long-term sustainable development in the built environment of the UAE capital.
In addition to the Department of Municipal Affairs, World ecoConstruct is supported by Sustainable Knowledge Partner Masdar City, Strategic Partner Emirates Green Building Council, Principal Sponsor Emirates Steel, Platinum Sponsor Rajhi Steel, Gold & Future Build Sponsor BASF and is endorsed by the UAE Business Council for Sustainable Development.