The Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (the UPC) was founded in 2007 “to ensure the development throughout the Emirate of Abu Dhabi of professionally designed and well managed urban environments,” according to the UPC website. View the UPC's promotional brochure on the UPC website. "Next Generation Sustainable Planning As a result of planning undertaken by a broad spectrum of government and private sector stakeholders, UPC developed the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Vision 2030, a number of initiatives that embody the core value of estidama, which means sustainability in Arabic, and a mandated initiative developed and promoted by the Abu Dhabi government that prominently includes the Estidama Pearl Rating System. View the Estidama Rating System Guidelines.
Launched in May 2008, the formal Estidama initiative is described as “Abu Dhabi’s contribution to the international discussion on how to create more sustainable communities, cities, and global enterprise,” and the first program of its kind tailored to the Middle East. The 2009 Estidama Pearl Rating System (PRS), one component of the four-part Estidama initiative, seeks to advance the development of sustainability in the built environment by assessing the sustainability performance of communities, buildings, and villas. The other components include broad regional planning and economic objectives.
The PRS represents the Arab world’s first green rating system and is specifically tailored to the hot and arid environment of Abu Dhabi. Designed to support sustainable development from design through construction to operational accountability, the PRS offers guidance and compulsory requirements to rate a project’s potential performance in relation to the four pillars of Estidama. The PRS program encompasses three typologies: the Pearl Community Rating System, the Pearl Rating System (structure specific), and the Pearl Villa System.
Within each typology, the system addresses the following categories; Integrated Development Process, Natural Systems, Livable Communities and Buildings, Water, Energy Materials, and Innovating Practice. For each category, there are mandatory and optional credits, as well as weights with maximum credit points available for each category. Unlike most of the U.S. rating systems, which base certification on performance modeling, the PRS awards certification in stages, starting with the Pearl Design Rating, which is engaged at the design phase of the project and is relevant until construction is complete. Following that, the Pearl Construction Rating is introduced for two years post a project’s completion. Finally the Pearl Operational Rating comes once the operational performance of an existing development can be confirmed, which takes effect at a minimum of two years after completion, and when a development has reached a minimum occupancy of 80%.
The overall Abu Dhabi Vision 2030 will take place over the next two decades. However, the UPC promises that “citizens and visitors will start to witness the completion of a number of projects over the coming months and years,” according to the UPC website, ensuring appropriate, sustainable, and high-quality development across Abu Dhabi and eventually the Emirate. The plan includes an environmental framework implementing a national park system, green gradients, and a Sand Belt to prevent urban sprawl.
View a short, inspirational video that communicates the values of Estidama and the Pearl Rating system.