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Interview: Abu Dhabi’s urban planner on our carbon footprint

Interview: Abu Dhabi’s urban planner on our carbon footprint

Although oil has brought a considerable amount of wealth to the region, it is time to invest in renewable energy sources, says Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council manager, John Madden.

January 19, 2011 3:25 by

Why is conserving energy so important in today’s world generally, and especially for an oil-rich country such as the U.A.E.?
There are two main reasons why conserving energy is so important. The first one is, the environment; the more energy is consumed, the greater the impact on environmental degradation, global warming and climate change.

Regardless of where energy is coming from, saving energy results in resource conservation, cleaner air and less water consumption. The second and more obvious reason is economic; the greater the energy savings one can achieve, the lower the energy bills, lower maintenance costs, etc.

What does energy conservation mean for Abu Dhabi 2030 plan?
Energy conservation is embedded within the key directions of Abu Dhabi Vision 2030. The expected increase of population until the year 2030 will have a significant impact on resource demand, particularly energy and water.
As such, Vision 2030 highlights the importance of conserving and respecting natural and cultural resources. Oil has so far brought considerable wealth to the emirate, but it is time to think of investing in other renewable resources. It is important for the future to cautiously use existing wealth, actively explore renewable energy production, reduce the consumption of non-renewable resources and educate future generations.

What kind of green initiatives has Abu Dhabi’s Urban Planning Council launched?
The most significant green initiative UPC launched is called Estidama, the Arabic word for sustainability. The intellectual legacy of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and a manifestation of visionary governance promoting thoughtful and responsible development, while creating a balanced society on four equal pillars of sustainability: environmental, economic, social, and cultural. The goal of Estidama is to preserve and enrich Abu Dhabi’s physical and cultural identity, while creating a perpetual, improving quality of life for its residents.

Estidama is focused on the rapidly changing built environment. It is in this area that the UPC is making significant strides to influence projects under design, development or construction within Abu Dhabi. An essential tool to advance Estidama is the Pearl Rating System (PRS), which is a framework for sustainable design, construction and operation of communities, buildings and villas. The PRS is unique in the world and is specifically tailored to the hot climate and arid environment of Abu Dhabi. All new projects must achieve a minimum 1 Pearl rating to receive approval from the planning and permitting authorities. Government-funded buildings and community masterplans must achieve a minimum 2 Pearl rating.

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