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March 22, 2011
by Jacqueline Pezzillo Assoc. AIA LEED AP

Event: Sustainable Building Codes and Standards: India, China and the Middle East
Location: Center for Architecture, 03.03.11
Speakers: Steven Baumgartner, PE, LEED AP — Associate, Buro Happold; Karin Benedict — Associate, Arup; Sarah Sachs, LEED AP — Associate, Buro Happold
Organizer: AIANY Committee on the Environment
Sponsor: ConEdison Commercial and Industrial Energy Efficiency Program

As sustainability becomes increasingly embedded in the global collective conscience, developing countries abroad are refining their respective standards for environmentally responsible design and construction. While foreign rating systems reference and sometimes mirror LEED in the U.S., specifications reflect the individual agendas and needs of each nation.

In the Middle East, Abu Dhabi’s Plan 2030 sets forth a vision by the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council for a sustainable city and enforces Estidama (Arabic for “sustainability”), the emirate’s sustainable building program. Tailored to the hot, arid climate of the UAE, Estidama uses a Pearl Rating System, with one pearl out of a possible five set as a mandatory benchmark for all new buildings and two pearls as a requirement for all new government-funded buildings. There are three categories: community, buildings, and villa, and four pillars: environmental, economic, cultural and social. With the climate-specific challenges of vast deserts, lack of shaded areas, and high sun exposure, energy and water efficiency comprise approximately 50% of the achievable credits. Certification is awarded to buildings at different stages — design, construction, operational efficiency two years after completion, and at 80% occupancy.

In China, new construction and high-energy consumption in buildings are major concerns, according to Karin Benedict, an associate at Arup. While LEED has been used as a rating system, the country is increasingly using the Green Building Label system. This new benchmark under development rates buildings on a three-star system in two categories — residential and public buildings. Six categories of credits exist with a mandatory number of credits in each. Similar to Estidama, emphasis is placed on post-occupancy evaluations. Buildings are awarded rankings after operational metering has been performed one year after completion. Although Chinese developers have yet to recognize the benefits of third party endorsement of environmental performance and the Green Building Label remains a voluntary achievement, Benedict predicts mandatory enforcement of these standards is imminent given China’s commitment to energy and carbon emission reductions.

The Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) has established a variety of rating systems, earlier versions of which are very similar to LEED, and more recent versions that are indigenized to the Indian market focusing on water and organic waste management. IGBC Green Homes, IGBC Green Townships, IGBC Green SEZ (Special Economic Zones), and IGBC Green Factory Building are implemented for specific building types, while LEED-INDIA provides a rating system for new construction, commercial, and core and shell buildings. Certification is not mandated and buildings are awarded on tiers identical to LEED in the U.S.: Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum.

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