Chinese delegation visits Masdar City to learn about Estidama standards

A delegation from the Guangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation has visited Masdar City in Abu Dhabi on Thursday to understand how the emirate’s Estidama (sustainability) standards work.

The delegation came to the emirate for a two-day fact-finding mission following its participation in the 2014 award programme, in which Estidama was one of 15 short-listed initiatives, but Abu Dhabi was not named as one of the five winning cities.

The biennial Guangzhou award, set up in 2012, is co-hosted by the Guangzhou municipal government, United Cities and Local Governments, a global municipality network, and Metropolis, an international association of major cities.

The Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council hosted the Chinese visit and made use of the opportunity to explain Estidama and its accompanying Pearl Rating System.

The Guangzhou delegation saw practical examples of how buildings achieve Pearl ratings, including the three-pearl-rated headquarters of Siemens Middle East and the four-pearl-rated headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency.

“The fact that Estidama was shortlisted for such a prestigious award and is now the basis of a visit by the Guangzhou delegation is demonstration that it is being recognised beyond this region as a sustainability programme that features a unique combination of global and local best practice,” said Mohamed Al Khadar, the council’s executive director of urban development and Estidama.

Anthony Mallows, the director of Masdar City, said Estidama could be viewed as a “greenprint” for the sustainable development of future cities.

“We work very closely with the authorities to innovate so that the regulations are not simply documented. There’s proof of concept,” he said.

Mr Mallows added that lessons learnt at Masdar City could be exported to other parts of the world.

“If you can take what Estidama has done in the UAE, if you can apply it to the scale of cities that you are building in China, you could have a global partnership that would have relevance both for how to build sustainably, with a proper systematic ranking system, and to do it at scale,” he said.

The third Guangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation will be held next year. Winning city initiatives receive a US$20,000 prize, and municipality officials are also invited to attend seminars and exhibitions on urban innovation.

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Michael Fahy

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