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17 January 2008

Sandy footprint

A new building code will transform Abu Dhabi from among the world’s least sustainable cities to one of its greenest, it is hoped.

In January 2007 the World Wildlife Fund published a study of the ecological footprints of countries around the world. It revealed that the United Arab Emirates’ population consumed resources equivalent to 11.9 hectares per person, compared to 9.6 hectares per person for the United States and a global average of 2.2.

If all the world’s 6.7 billion people consumed natural resources at this rate, humanity would need an additional six and a half planet Earths to support itself, the report stated.

The government of Abu Dhabi has responded by committing to reduce its high consumption rates. It wants to establish green guidelines for future development. A code is being developed by Mott MacDonald.

Over the coming decade the population of the Emirates is expected to double. Abu Dhabi is at the beginning of a massive construction boom and realises that water and power supplies will be stretched. It therefore wants future buildings to be as ecologically sound as possible.

“Considering the aspect, elevation and use of materials at design stage makes comfortable temperatures achievable within a building without the need for air conditioning, even in the Middle East,” comments Mott MacDonald technical team leader Gordon Hudson.

Environment services manager Mark Grundy says the code will propose that treated wastewater be reused for irrigation, that water should be heated by solar power and that more rigorous waste management strategies be developed to reduce the volume of methane released by landfill sites.
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