ABU DHABI // All but three applications for building permits since mid-November were rejected because they did not meet new sustainability requirements, the municipality has revealed.
Of the 145 applications registered with the municipality since November 15, 98 per cent lacked proposals on how the building would meet the emirate's green building guidelines, called Estidama. Projects that do not are refused building permits.
The proposals with incomplete information were sent back to the applicants with instructions on how to receive first-review approval.
"The importance of co-operation between consultants and landlords in the implementation of these conditions could not have been more important," said Salah al Sarraj, the municipality's acting executive director of town planning.
"The municipality has offered them ample opportunity to train and understand these conditions and stipulations so they can be addressed in the architectural and engineering designs of various projects."
The authority will step up efforts in the new year to educate contractors and construction companies after so many applications failed.
Permits for new construction projects have been linked to the sustainability guidelines since they were launched on September 1.
A rating of 1 Pearl, which requires proposals for energy and water conservation and renewable energy usage, is compulsory for all new villas, buildings and communities. Government-funded buildings must attain a 2 Pearl rating, which has stricter sustainability requirements.
The Urban Planning Council (UPC), which oversees Estidama, plans to offer 72 courses on the guidelines in January and February, with more courses throughout the year. There were 58 classes in 2010.
"The Estidama Training Programme will be expanded starting in March 2011 for a whole year with more courses and new course offerings," said Saood al Junaibi, the director of sustainable development and urban design at UPC.
The municipality also hosts workshops in English and Arabic to help consultants, designers, developers and construction companies to prepare their 1-Pearl proposals. Hundreds of industry professionals have attended these conferences, the municipality and UPC said, and letters about the new requirements were issued in May.
The municipality said it would jump-start initiatives meant to educate property and construction professionals on the Estidama standards at the beginning of 2011. A panel of "expert engineers and specialists of environmental, architectural and urban design" has been given the job of providing education on the registration process, and offering technical support and guidance.
Estidama was launched in May by Executive Council resolution and is the foundation of all new development in the capital.
"Buildings are a key component of our lifestyle and play a major role in the happiness and health of residents," Mr al Junaibi said. "Added to that, buildings in general are responsible for huge consumption of water and energy.
"These are some of the reasons why sustainable buildings are high on the agenda of Abu Dhabi leadership that works hard to ensure a happier, healthier and more comfortable life for the community."
In addition to water and energy savings, Estidama aims to increase tenant retention and marketability by providing healthy and safe places to live and work.
The Estidama Pearl Rating System is organised into seven categories, and within each section there are mandatory and optional credits.
To obtain a 1-Pearl rating, all the mandatory credit requirements must be met. To achieve a higher Pearl rating, all the mandatory credit requirements must be met along with a minimum number of optional credit points.