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Abu Dhabi buildings ‘to be safest in the world’

The new code will make Abu Dhabi government buildings among the safest and most environmentally friendly in the world.

ABU DHABI // Tough new construction regulations will make Abu Dhabi government buildings among the safest and most environmentally friendly in the world.

The Abu Dhabi International Building Code will be compulsory for all government projects from October 2014, until when compliance will be voluntary.

“It is commendable that the Abu Dhabi leadership at the Executive Council level has seen the merit in this action,” said Holley Chant, corporate sustainability director at KEO, the international consultants in architectural design and construction management.

“This is another critical step in their progress toward establishing the emirate as a leading government in the world.

“I am sure there may be some groans about additional layers of requirements in our industry, but one only need to remember recent tragedies in the GCC that an enforced building code could have prevented.

“The awful fire at Villagio shopping mall in Qatar and children falling from windows in older apartment blocks in the UAE are two that linger in my mind.”

The new standards are distinct from the Estidama green building rating system, which was developed by the Urban Planning Council and made compulsory in November 2010.

Taken together the two systems will put the capital’s construction standards on a par with any developed nation in the world, said Ms Chant.

However, she warned that enforcement of the law and consequences for those found flouting it were vital.

“This will require not only reviews of the project plans during design phases before the building permit is issued, but also site visits by building inspectors during construction with negative repercussions such as fines and delays to occupancy for those who do not follow the code requirements through completion of construction.”

The new guidelines, based on the International Code Council standards, will “improve construction standards and guarantee best practices”, said Majid Al Mansouri, chairman of the Department of Municipal Affairs

The code consists of six parts, each of which has been adapted from international codes to address the emirate’s requirements. They cover construction, energy conservation, fuel gas, mechanics, sewage disposal and property maintenance.

Each sets out “the minimum safety requirements” for buildings and enhances “safety, durability and energy efficiency”, said Ali Bukair, consultant for building codes and construction at the department.

“We will see a lot of improvements,” he said.

Mr Bukair said companies would no longer need to waste time researching codes developed abroad, as the new guidelines were created with local requirements in mind.

Introducing the codes on a voluntary basis would give the industry a chance to adjust, he said.

“The codes are voluntary but we are really hoping the industry will implement them as soon as possible.”

No deadline has been set for requiring private companies to implement the new code, but the department said it hoped they would do so in time.

vtodorova@thenational.ae

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