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Abu Dhabi's new building code

by Gerhard Hope on Jan 16, 2011

Abu Dhabi construction aims to be a benchmark for sustainability.
Abu Dhabi construction aims to be a benchmark for sustainability.

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The Department of Municipal Affairs (DMA) of Abu Dhabi has taken another step forward in standardising design and construction across the emirate with the introduction of its new building code from the beginning of the year.

This follows the earlier ruling that all new build will have to comply with a minimum One Pearl rating in terms of Estidama.

Commenting on the link between Estidama and the new building code, the DMA said that both formed part of an overarching strategy to achieve the Abu Dhabi 2030 Vision, with the new building code being the main enabling mechanism.

The latest development is the end result of a three-year process of adopting eight new codes from the International Code Council (ICC) of the US.

A user guide with ‘soft’ amendments was made available a while ago to familiarise the construction industry with the new code. This was revealed at last year’s Construction Week Abu Dhabi Conference by DMA building code consultant Imad Al Durubi.

The codes are Building, Fire, Energy Conservation, Mechanical, Plumbing, Fuel Gas, Private Sewage Disposal and Property Maintenance.

“The Abu Dhabi 2030 Vision demands world-class infrastructure and regulatory framework, together with greener, more sustainable buildings. We are adopting this set of codes to take into account local climatic requirements, and to improve quality of life,” said Al Durubi.

Consultant Matthew Plumbridge said the codes “will improve energy efficiency 50% to 70% over business as usual. They will look at low-hanging fruit like the building envelope, leakage from buildings, fenestration, glazing and plant optimisation.”

Al Durubi explained that the DMA had looked at codes from the UK, Europe, Australia, Canada and the ICC. “The codes will be localised to fit specific conditions,” he said.

Crucially, the DMA was also investigating the accreditation of professionals in the new family of codes. “This will be very transforming for the industry. We are hoping to achieve one document from design to municipal and inspection level. This is the main concept behind the international codes. I am sure other emirates and countries in the GCC will look very seriously at Abu Dhabi’s successful adoption.”