The future headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) represent the first office building in Abu Dhabi to be awarded the 4-Pearl Estidama Construction Rating Certificate. According to the Estidama website, the 2010 rating system was the first building certification code to be adopted in the Middle East. Estidama, which means sustainability in Arabic, was implemented by the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC) and aims at “creating more sustainable communities, cities and global enterprises”. In addition to low energy and water consumption, credit points are given for an integrated planning process, as well as ecological building materials and an innovative building design. IRENA’s new headquarters achieved 115 points above mandatory and therefore gained the 4 Pearl rating.
The finished multi-use office complex with almost 32,000 m² of floor space was presented to the public for the first time during the IRENA assembly in January 2015. It is based in the eco-city of Masdar in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. IRENA´s team of around 100 staff will move into the building during the middle of March. Other firms and institutions will follow.
The Pearl Rating System has several levels of certification, ranging from one to five pearls. Since 2010, all new development projects – offices, restaurants, banks and supermarkets, as well as multi-family, school and mixed-use buildings – within the emirate of Abu Dhabi require a minimum certification of one pearl. Public buildings even need two pearls.
Solar technology produces 10 % of building energy demand on-site
The 4-pearl building design and standard of IRENA’s headquarters include a number of green measures, as confirmed by APCO Worldwide, the agency of Masdar City:
- The building’s window design prevents 90 % of the direct solar radiation from entering the room. Permanent shades installed outside the windows maximise the light entering the room while minimising the heat. High-performance tinted glass and high-efficiency insulation increase energy savings as well. The overall sustainable design strategy is expected to reduce the building´s energy consumption by more than 40 %.
- A 1,000 m² PV rooftop generator is designed to produce 305,000 kWh annually. Together with a solar water heater system with an expected yield of 85,000 kWh per year, the total annual renewable energy generation of IRENA’s headquarters is 390,000 kWh – 10 % of the overall building energy demand.
- The cooling system is supplied by the water-based district cooling network of Masdar city. Special low-power air handling units provide cold air to the ventilation system of the building.
- The ecological building materials include locally sourced, low-carbon cement, as well as recycled steel.
- The building complex consisting of three connected structures is oriented along typical wind flow patterns to keep city temperatures noticeably lower.
- Further measures are reducing the water demand of the building by 53 %.
After construction was completed, the project team had to submit the construction rating application to the UPC, which is the body responsible for issuing Estidama certifications. The IRENA headquarter received its 4-pearl certificate in January 2015.