Aldar executive: UAE utilities firms a "nightmare"

Utilities companies ?holding back the process? during design stage.

Achieving a two-pearl rating is possible even before PV, says Paterson.
Achieving a two-pearl rating is possible even before PV, says Paterson.

 The developments director at Aldar Properties has slammed the UAE’s utilities companies as “a nightmare” to deal with when developers are thinking about power and water requirements for sustainable developments.

Alan Paterson, speaking at the ‘Green Gulf: Sustainability in the Middle East’ seminar in Dubai, said the country suffered from a degree of “bureaucratic inertia” whereby the principle of sustainable building is accepted but the challenge to improve the planning process in this area remains.

Details on the power and water requirements for a new project are the first required at the concept stage, he explained, and that the rigid way utilities companies require developers to work is “holding back the process”. It is only after that designers consider the eventual ‘pearl’ rating – the core of Abu Dhabi’s Estidama system for assessing buildings’ environmental benefits – of the prospective building.
“The Abu Dhabi government is committed to sustainability and Estidama is a fantastic policy that is badly needed in the region,” he said. “If you’re a developer and there is a clear policy at the start then that’s a blessing - rather than building and then factoring in things later.

“All government projects will need to achieve two pearls, with all normal projects needing one pearl. Integrated design is going to be crucial for developers. At the concept stage they need to have the information about the power and water demands, and then after that be more specific with Pearl and work with the UPC to achieve them.

“We must bring the utilities companies up to speed.”

For sustainable building to flourish, he added, developers must think long term; and when projects use the estidama system from the start “your costs can be significantly reduced”. A two-pearl rating, he said, is achievable, even before solar solutions such as photovoltaics are used.

Paterson refused to reply fully to CW's question as to whether he thought Aldar Properties' next chief executive should have direct experience with sustainable development initiative, since the resignation of John Bullough. "Personally, I think it would be great. But I'm not going to comment on the appointment."

Earlier in the seminar, hosted by law firm Taylor Wessing, a representative of WSP cited research by Davis Langdon that the added cost of a project to achieve each pearl was between 1-2%. There was no cost difference between achieving one, two or three pearls, though achieving as many as five would increase cost.


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