The Future Build

Masdar City Case Study - Estidama SM-12 Reused or Certified Timber.

Architects, Engineers and Contractors are looking increasingly at the environmental impact of their projects now that Abu Dhabi is mandating buildings to be built to sustainable standard, and Estidama has launched its Pearl Rating System which aims to address the sustainability of a given development throughout its lifecycle from design through construction to operation.

Certified Timber can make a significant contribution to sustainable construction for a sustainable community. Timber, as a construction material, has a significant role to play in helping to protect the local and global environment and MASDAR is helping to bring certified timber to the UAE, working with local timber merchants such as Oceanic General Trading LLC.

Masdar has specified in its restricted materials list (RML – Specification 016105) and in its various product specifications to Architects, Engineers and Contractors that it only allows timber and composite wood to be used on its projects, supplied from timber merchants and mills that have a certification scheme such as Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Forest Certification scheme (PFEC) or other national schemes endorsed by PEFC. In addition, all timber must be legally sourced and not on the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species).

Designers are expected to assess their designs for application for wood based products, check to see what certified or reused timber is readily and locally available and then to work this into their design. Masdar strongly encourages designers to consider specifying certified wood, focusing on big ticket items especially those that contribute to multiple credits, to find a source and price regionally available certified timber and to specify it early. A supplier's 'Chain of Custody' (COC) certificate associated with each timber provides proof that the products are certified.


A total of 1,816m3 of certified timber was used in the construction of the Masdar institute Project. The Glulam roof timber used Douglas Fir supplied by Costylva in France. The formwork timber is plywood supplied by Korindo from Malaysia. Oceanic General Trading supplied MDF, commercial plywood, veneer, film faced plywood and timber for a majority of the retail restaurants and shops around the MIST campus. Oceanic were driven to becoming a certified wood supplier by the encroaching green building regulations being incorporated as standards in the UAE, and to be a part of the select group of approved Masdar suppliers. Oceanic chose the Forest Stewardship Council certification over others, as it was the most widely accepted globally by city regulators, green building schemes and also endorsed by NGOs, this gave them the ability to supply without restriction to green building requirements, such as Masdar, Estidama, and USGBC’s LEED.

FSC timber in the UAE was previously difficult to secure, despite preliminary claims by suppliers that it was available. When it came to placing an order and asking for certification paperwork, availability disappeared. However, Masdar by working with the timber supply chain encouraged timber merchants to source FSC timber and arranged a workshop to educate them why it was required for the building of MASDAR City. Today, FSC timber is now available in the UAE from the likes of Oceanic General Trading LLC and others. Masdar will continue to support the use of certified timber, organize workshops promoting the need for FSC certified distributors in the UAE and have assisted two companies in obtaining such certification. As a result of Masdar’s certified wood procurement criteria and other green building schemes, there are now 5 FSC COC timber merchants, and 4 FSC COC sub-contractors in the UAE.

Are the credits worth the effort?

To achieve SM-12 “Reused or Certified Timber” credits you must use a minimum of 50% of wood-based materials and products, which are certified in accordance with FSC or a program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PFEC) or the following national schemes endorsed by PFEC, for wood building components. These components include, but are not limited to, structural framing and general dimensional framing, flooring, sub-flooring, wood doors, and finishes. Thus, if project contractors purchase AED 10,000 worth of a wood flooring product that is certified, and the total value of wood building components is AED 100,000, then project managers will need to source another AED 40,000 of FSC-certified wood products to achieve SM-12.

The credit can be achieved with a small premium if your project only has a small amount of wood. A high-rise building, for example, may have little wood on the project except for doors and cabinetry. In this case, it would be easy to reach the 50% credit requirement threshold. Projects with more wood might encounter a larger upfront cost, but have the potential to demonstrate their environmental values of sustainable forestry management. A further credit is available for 70% of wood-based materials and products, which are certified in design or installed.

The Future Build recommendation:

Always specify certified wood products as per Estidama requirements for timber and insist on the last suppliers’ chain of custody certificates, ensure when before ordering the unique certificate numbers match the invoice certificate numbers, packing list or other related shipping documentation. As the invoices and related documentation are annually audited by 3rd party auditors. Certificate numbers can be validated against the certification bodies online web database for authenticity and validity