Abu Dhabi's Municipal System Leads Responsible Growth

- Energy Efficient Projects to be Showcased at World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI, UAE, Jan. 18 /CNW/ - Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is to host the World Future Energy Summit (WFES), between 18-21 January, bringing together international experts examining sustainable solutions to the challenges posed by a world ever more dependent on carbon based energy. But Abu Dhabi itself is more than just a convenient cross roads venue for east and west to meet.

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It exemplifies many of the issues that WFES is set up to address. Commodity rich, expanding rapidly, a significant contributor to the world's oil based economy, the emirate also faces the challenge of its desert location where water is scarce and the summer's scorching heat puts huge demands on electricity to power air-conditioning.

Keenly aware of the need to address these problems, city and municipal authorities have spearheaded a number of initiatives aimed at enhancing the Abu Dhabi's sustainability credentials while making it a regional leader in ensuring the sustainability of its rapid development.

Primary among these is the introduction of world-leading building codes. Developed in tandem with the International Code Council, the codes will oblige contractors to construct buildings with specific regard to energy and water efficiency in addition to easy accessibility, seismic parameters, improved fire safety among other features. The codes demand that materials and insulation make best use of the desert's fluctuating temperatures to reduce energy hungry dependence on air conditioning.

Experts at the city's Department of Municipal Affairs calculate that the Abu Dhabi Energy Conservation Code will enable buildings to fall within the tough energy consumption limits laid out by the UN for extremely hot climates, which include 96 kWh/m2/pa for office buildings(1).

"Abu Dhabi is set to expand rapidly in the next decade, we need to manage that with due regard not only to our own efficient use of energy but what that means to the wider environment. These codes are a real acknowledgement of that," says H.E. Rashid Al Hajeri, Chairman of the Department of Municipal Affairs.

Builders will also have to pay increasing regard to proper disposal of waste while ensuring that as much construction material as possible is recyclable or based on materials already recycled.

Effective water management is another area of focus for the municipal system. The emirate is dependent on desalinated water and its effective use is key to Abu Dhabi's sustainability aims.

Some 90 per cent of waste water is recycled, particularly into irrigating various green projects such as parks and open spaces which not only enhance city quality of life but add to biodiversity as well as carbon absorption.

Central to the water saving effort in the capital itself is a fully controllable master irrigation system - SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) - which ensures even distribution, minimal waste and optimum use. Supporting surface drainage works decrease groundwater and direct rainwater run-off to where it's most needed.

"Abu Dhabi has always been very aware of the precious nature of water as a resource. This kind of investment means that as little as possible goes to waste while giving us the great benefits of greenery," adds Al Hajeri.

At Al Ain, the emirate's second city and an oasis resort, the sustainability effort hinges on EHSMS or Environment, Health and Safety Management System. The EHSMS is an integrated cross-municipal plan for safety of the construction workforce in addition to minimising pollution, waste and the environmental impact of Abu Dhabi's building and construction sector.

Mirroring the emirate wide efforts on improving building practices, Ail Ain will oblige contractors to introduce their own EHSMS by 2012.

In Abu Dhabi's Western Region, a desert area, high temperatures and continual shifting of sand dunes have adverse environmental effects from desert encroachment to destruction of plants and buildings by scouring winds.

The Western Region Municipality plans to solve the problems with a system of planted natural windbreaks. The environmental and economic benefits are significant including the reduction of soil erosion and the encouragement of green belts, absorbing carbon dioxide, encouraging biodiversity, acting as a water filter and reducing climate fluctuation with its knock-on effect on energy use.

"Abu Dhabi's municipal system has taken a co-ordinated and ambitious approach to the challenges of sustainable development. The World Future Energy Summit puts a spotlight firmly on our efforts and I am confident that Abu Dhabi will have much to showcase," concludes Al Hajeri.

About Department of Municipal Affairs:

The Department of Municipal Affairs (DMA) commenced operations in May 2007, following the Abu Dhabi Executive Council's decision to integrate the Emirate's municipal system. As a new government entity, the Department of Municipal Affairs was created to lead, coordinate and oversee three municipalities in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and the Western Region. The DMA has a regulatory role while the service delivery and operations are at the municipality level.

On the 5th of May 2008, the Department of Municipal Affairs along with the Abu Dhabi Municipality, Al Ain Municipality and Western Region Municipality embarked upon a new municipal services journey, with the signing of the historic Municipal Charter which aligns the DMA and three municipalities towards greater collaboration and cooperation.

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(1) UNEP, Building Energy Conservation Guidelines, Draft April 14, 2009

SOURCE DEPARTMENT OF MUNICIPAL AFFAIRS

For further information: For further information: Department of Municipal Affairs: Mrs. Amal Al Jarwan, Tel:+971-2-4030311, Email: media@dma.abudhabi.ae; Impact Porter Novelli: Sarika Aidasani, Mobile:+971-50-612-7765, Email: s.aidasani@ipn.ae

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