Key developments in Abu Dhabi granted Estidama Excellence Awards

Published January 19th, 2010 - 01:18 GMT

Estidama, the sustainability program managed by Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC), and a driving force of Plan Abu Dhabi 2030, today granted Estidama Excellence Awards to 12 major development projects in the Emirate.

The 12 developers were awarded the Excellence Awards at the Estidama Pearl Rating System workshop held during the World Future Energy Summit at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), and attended by senior representatives of UPC senior management, the projects, developers, designers, sustainability experts and representatives of government agencies in Abu Dhabi. The awarded projects continue toward certification with sustainability guidelines and principles designed to enhance livability standards across the UAE’s largest emirate.

The Estidama Pearls Rating System projects cover a wide range of stand-alone buildings and mixed-use developments, namely, Al Salam Street Residence Development, Al Rayyana Development, The British College in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort Hotel (AWPR), R-3 Residential development in Al Ain, Masdar Headquarters, the Abu Dhabi Mid-Field Airport Terminal, The Magnet at TwoFour54, and Ain Al Fayda community in Al Ain. Mina Zayed, Al Naseem neighbourhood, and Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre were the first to achieve Estidama compliance status in 2008.

Commenting on the workshop, HE Falah Al Ahbabi, General Manager of Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council, said:”Estidama has gained strong momentum with more developers committing to its inter-disciplinary approach and sustainability guidelines. The increasing number of developments winning Estidama Excellence Awards is proof that the industry is an active proponent of our initiative and a true partner in progress, and we aspire to inspire more developments to organize their design process as an interdisciplinary process”.

“The 12 projects that have so far received Estidama Excellence Awards were exemplary representatives of the goals of Estidama and offered a wide range of innovative solutions that would fit the characteristics of Abu Dhabi and the region as well,” added Al Ahbabi.




The process of Estidama compliance certification in 2009 started with a dozen of projects vying to gain Estidama pilot status in their quest for recognition of their high-level green credentials. Pilot projects’ design teams later attended a series of highly informative workshops around Estidama Pearl Rating System (EPRS), the innovative benchmark rating tool designed specifically for Abu Dhabi. Teams were trained by Estidama experts on how to apply the EPRS in designing their developments and rating their sustainability performance.

The sessions provided a platform for Estidama and designers of pilot projects to discuss the applicability of EPRS as well as to incorporate the designers’ comments and recommendations in the EPRS Final Version 1.0 due for release in the first quarter of 2010. 

In line with its commitment, Estidama will call EPRS Qualified Professionals to sit for exams early in 2010 to test their understanding of the process for registering and certifying a project attaining a pearls rating. There are two levels of Certification; the first is a Design Rating for use in marketing and project positioning followed by a Construction Rating at completion of construction.  A final Living Rating after occupancy validates that the performance levels intended during design have actually been achieved.  While this increases the integrity of the overall system, it also creates an invaluable feedback loop to the Pearl Rating System, allowing further evolution.

Apart from this and in its continuous efforts to reach out to its stakeholders, Estidama has taken several educational initiatives. The Fareej Design Contest, for instance, aimed at engaging next generation designers to think Estidama. Also, Estidama has recently entered into a cooperation agreement with Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) to collaborate on the ADEC Estidama Schools Pearls Program which will be part of ADEC School Design Manual.

Developers also got a preview of the Abu Dhabi Development Code (zoning code) as the City’s regulatory framework for managing land use and development as per Plan Abu Dhabi 2030. The Code, which regulates all types and scales of developments both existing and proposed, will ensure that Abu Dhabi’s varied planning and livability initiatives as well Estidama programs are well-connected and work together to create complete communities in Abu Dhabi.

Estidama and the Development Code will be implemented through the UPC’s development review process.  The UPC is currently enhancing the review process to make it easier, faster and more effective.  The UPC is streamlining development review by clarifying review responsibilities for each agency, creating clear, unified development regulations and implementing a web-based application, circulation and tracking system.




Saood Al Junaibi, Director of Development Review and Urban Design, Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council, said: “Estidama and the Development Code go far to translate the Vision 2030 into clear, tangible development objectives.  The streamlined review process, and the web-based application system, will help our development partners build innovative, sustainable communities that adapt international planning best practices to our local context and culture. ”.

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