Shifting Sands - How Abu Dhabi is Transforming its Energy Landscape

ABU DHABI, Jan. 17 /CNW/ - Last year's large scale oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico brought the world's attention once again to the continued depletion of our fossil fuels. Our constant quest to find new, sustainable, renewable forms of energy to power our planet continues apace as we seek out new ways of improving energy efficiency and protecting our environment.


In 2007, the Emirate of Abu Dhabi launched the Abu Dhabi Vision 2030 to provide the Emirate with the strategic environment that achieves sustainable urban planning and economic growth. With a population expected to reach up to 5 million by 2030, the Emirate, which is one of the seven emirates that comprise the United Arab Emirates and home to its capital city, is firmly focused on creating a diversified economy to reduce its dependency on oil and building the necessary foundations and infrastructure that will support a sustainable society in the future.

If proof were needed of the sweeping changes that are taking place right across the Emirate, then one need look no further than 2011 World Future Energy Summit (WFES) which Abu Dhabi is proudly hosting this month. Visitors to the event, which in 2010 attracted almost 25,000 industry professionals from nearly 150 countries, will be able to see 17 of the pioneering projects that the Emirate is working on to better conserve energy and drive sustainable development.

These 17 projects that the Emirate's Municipal System is showcasing - which is comprised of the DMA and the three regional municipal administrations; Abu Dhabi Municipality, Al Ain Municipality, and Western Region Municipality - undeniably illustrate just how much the Emirate is changing to lessen its reliance on more traditional forms of energy.

One of the most dramatic - and arguably the hardest hitting - steps towards the Emirate's energy conservation and sustainability targets has been the very recent introduction of a set of Building Codes by the Department of Municipal Affairs (DMA), the regulatory and legislative body of the Emirate's Municipal System. The New Building Codes, which represent one of the biggest changes to the municipal system in many years, will unify building practices and create better, safer, greener buildings that are more cost-effective and durable, and which are built to even higher health and safety standards.

One of the new Building Codes likely to be of particular interest to WFES visitors is the International Energy Code, which sets out minimum standards for energy conservation that it is hoped will help the Emirate meet all United Nation's Green Building targets for extremely hot areas.

Other projects being showcased at the event by the Municipal System include the Mohammed Bin Zayed (MBZ) City Project which is setting the standard for building sustainable communities; the introduction of more energy-efficient street lighting using solar energy and LED technology, the use of solar panels for lighting and providing air conditioning in bus shelters, waste water re-use to irrigate municipal parks, gardens and green spaces, the implementation of new irrigation systems that can monitor leakages, the introduction of more green areas and the protection of the Emirate's natural habitat by planting trees and shrubs to act as windbreaks and prevent desertification

Commenting on the municipal system's participation, H.E. Majid Ali Al Mansouri, Chairman of the Department of Municipal Affairs, commented, "With the successful implementation of many local sustainability initiatives such as regulating mandatory use of energy efficient LED street-lighting, creating environmental health and safety management frameworks and introducing a unified set of building codes for the construction sector, the Emirate of Abu Dhabi is leading by example with practical initiatives to reduce energy consumption and protect the environment in the MENA region."

If the pioneering projects being showcased at the WFES are anything to go by, then the Emirate of Abu Dhabi is clearly all about quality - quality of development, quality of service and ultimately, improving the quality of life for all. By continuing to lead the way on sustainability, the citizens of Abu Dhabi Emirate are clearly well placed to benefit from all three.


SOURCE The Department of Municipal Affairs in Abu Dhabi

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Arwa Alkhatib

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