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Estidama, certification, system, Persian, Gulf, Abu Dhabi

Sustainable plans on the Persian Gulf

The Persian Gulf – a desert region when it comes to sustainable building as well? This seemed to be the case there for quite a long time. But in the meantime, Abu Dhabi in particular has become one of the world's biggest investors in solar energy and is now in the process of creating Masdar City, a model of ecological building. Moreover, it has initiated its own certification system for sustainable buildings.

Estidama is the magic word with which Abu Dhabi wants to put the notion of sustainable building across to its citizens. Estidama is Arabic and means "sustainability". It is intended to be much more than a certification system in that the emirate wants to fundamentally reform the building industry in its own country on the Gulf. Whereas, in industrial nations, legal requirements that are imposed usually come from the state while certification systems are mostly initiated by the private sector (with the result that they mostly fail to coincide with each other), the idea in Abu Dhabi is that the two aspects are to go hand in hand. This means that anyone who complies with the applicable (and very strict) building regulations in future will automatically be awarded the first of five "pearls" in the Estidama certification system. For five pearls, which is the highest award possible, a building must exert a "positive net effect on the environment" in respect of energy, water, living space and other resources.

The "Pearl Rating System" can be applied to office buildings, residential buildings, commercial office buildings (but no interior architecture projects in office buildings) as well as to trading structures, with the exception of free-standing "big box" markets. Certification of mixed building complexes is also being offered.

The rating criteria are pided into five main categories: Living Systems, Liveable Buildings, Precious Water, Resourceful Energy and Stewarding Materials. Special value is placed on water consumption in addition to energy and health aspects – an absolute necessity in the desert climate of Abu Dhabi.

As regards the inpidual criteria, the system is strongly orientated to the British and American models BREEAM and LEED: points are awarded for numerous inpidual measures and there are exact stipulations for many detailed aspects. This ranges from the question as to how many per cent of the main accessway to the building has to be in shadow at midday (100%) to the degree to which roofs of trading buildings are open to the sky (25 per cent for better ingress of daylight) and the accessibility of stairwells (in order to reduce the use of elevators).

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