Being a rapidly growing metropolitan country which attrtacts millions of tourist and expats every year, the UAE has one of the largest carbon footprints in the world, producing almost 20 tonnes of CO2 emissions per person in 2010, according to he 2015 UAE State of Energy Report. The United Nations Environment Programme estimates that buildings use about 40 percent of global energy, and with UAE undergoing intense development program, it is no surprise that UAE’s development programs account for the regions’ most carbon emissions and energy use.
To address these environmental concerns the region in 2009 Abu Dhabi (capital emirate) implemented strict regulations to promoted green development practices. Estidama (meaning “sustainability” in Arabic) is one of the first organic sustainability program in the Middle East. The program is set to ensure that all new development in the regoin is sustainable. In order to moniter and calculate the numericals to ensure minmal environmental impact the program introduced a “pearl” rating system. The rating system has been made mandatory and a part of the buidling code.
This means that new developments will first be subject to a Development Review Process and must comply to the Estidama vision in order to be built. Once planning permission has been received, the development must be constructed in accordance with the pearl rating system (different requirements depending on the type of construction and building). Currently the focus of Estidama is on new developments, but is expected to exapand towards the retrofitting of existing buildings.
One of the result of the Estidama initiative is the Masdar city in Abu Dhabi. A renewable energy, carbon-free city, aiming to reduce the overdependence on conventional energy sources, which are mainly responsible for high carbon emissions, global warming and climate changes.