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Beyond intending to develop a mutually beneficial relationship between AUS and the UPC, this partnership will focus on Estidama, the sustainability programme of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi through the use of the Estidama Pearl Rating System (PRS) to enable various building projects on the campus to achieve Estidama Pearl certification.
The Pearl Rating System, the first tool to be developed under the umbrella of Estidama programme, became mandatory in 2010 and addresses the design, construction and operation of all new buildings in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. The PRS is a customized rating tool designed for the climate and context of the UAEand contains a series of credits, some of which are mandatory and some that are optional. Projects that achieve the mandatory credits are compliant at a '1 Pearl' level, and the highest distinction is '5 Pearl' level. Estidama lies at the heart of the UPC's Complete Sustainable Communities (CSC) concept and ensures a truly balanced approach to sustainable urban planning through the overarching principles of Abu Dhabi Vision 2030.
Through this collaboration, the UPC and AUS aim to promote Estidama across theUAE by inspiring students and their respective communities while raising their awareness of sustainability challenges and solutions. As stated by Mohamed Al Khadar, Executive Director for Development Review and Estidama, UPC: "Awareness, education and knowledge are the main drivers that empower behavioral change and support the evolution of people's mindsets towards sustainable living. Students play a pivotal role in conveying the right messages to their families and the wider community to help ensure that Estidama gradually and positively impacts our natural and urban environments; this explains the importance the UPC is placing on this collaboration. Our main objective is to engage with students to encourage them to think carefully about how they will live and work in the near future. Such a partnership complements the UPC's 'UniverCity' outreach programme to ensure the full commitment and engagement of the UAE's student community."
AUS has decided to adopt Estidama principles for sustainable design and construction in the development of their new facilities; including the future Campus Parking Building, Design & Build Warehouse and Community Links. These will be the first buildings to receive PRS recognition outside of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
"We are very pleased to have signed this agreement with the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council," said Dr. Thomas John Hochstettler, Provost of AUS, on the occasion. "AUS has always been very keen to engage with and promote such industry initiatives. This collaboration is a reflection of the importance the university places on forging mutually beneficial bonds with leading institutions throughout the country," he added.
Founded in 1997 by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, AUS is a leading educational institution in the Gulf region. Since its inception, over 8,000 students have graduated from the university. Accredited both within the UAE and in the USA, its Bachelor of Architecture program is also accredited by the National Architectural Board (NAAB) of the United States.
"We place a lot of emphasis on sustainability at our university and, therefore, it was natural for us to partner with UPC. We are committed to the sustainable design principles espoused by Estidama and plan to adopt them in our upcoming campus projects," said Shwan Alhashimi, Director, Campus Development at AUS.
"This partnership places AUS as the first priority project to incorporate Estidama principles and guidelines outside Abu Dhabi. This cross-emirate collaboration has the potential to aid the implementation of sustainability across the emirate of Sharjah in a variety of forms as well as promote design and policy consistency throughout the nation. Our university has previously implemented other codes and acts which began as Abu Dhabi initiatives," added Alhashmi.
The UPC's core mission, through the creation of strategic plans, is to make Abu Dhabi's urban environments attractive to the wide range of people living and working across the Emirate and provide students in particular with opportunities to express themselves through the UniverCity platform, and empower them to make a positive impact on the future of their communities. Over the coming years, Abu Dhabi's citizens will see a positive transformation within their communities, and students will play a pivotal role in advocating Vision 2030's sustainability principles.
Al Khadar added: "As we move ahead with creating a culture of sustainable living, such a partnership is cementing our relationship with the wider UAE community. It helps to educate a variety of public audiences on our concept of environmental, economic, social and cultural sustainability. By supporting universities to integrate Estidama sustainability best practices into projects that are part of the student learning environment, we believe we are making significant strides in educating future generations on sustainability solutions."
Educating future generations on sustainable living through the Estidama programme will help to fulfil the legacy of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founding father of the UAE, who was committed to the sustainable growth of the UAE.