Sustainability Roadmap of Dubai Municipality in Shifting to a Sustainable City

Eng. Ahmed Saeed Albedwawi
Head of Building Studies Unit
Building Department
Dubai Municipality

Sustainability Roadmap of Dubai Municipality in Shifting to a Sustainable City


““The unity of nations and people in addressing the challenges of Climate Change is the best and shortest path in maintaining the Earth's environment. Sustaining our environment remains a fundamental principle in our development programs, national projects and governmental policies. Next generations have the right to inherit a clean & safe environment”. With these words summed up by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, in the 'Tweet' to His Highness on the social networking site ‘Twitter’ the vision of his Highness to the principle of sustainability, which became a cornerstone within the strategy of the United Arab Emirates and the Government of Dubai.

Dubai under the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has made many of the great achievements that have made it one of the most competitive cities in the world and contributed to the establishment of Dubai's reputation as a global hub for finance, business and tourism.

Dubai Municipality has worked in collaboration with all concern authorities on the implementation of his vision and the Dubai Strategic Plan 2015. In order to achieve this plan Dubai Municipality has implemented numerous initiatives, projects and issued laws related to sustainability, which included many aspects such as sustainable urban planning, environment, sewage treatment, solid waste management, thermal insulation, energy conservation and green buildings in order to reach the ultimate goal of making the city of Dubai sustainable and green.


Dubai Municipality has adopted many of the principles and tools forsound and sustainable urban planning. The implementation of the principle of compactness to limit the horizontal expansion of urbanization as asustainable planning tool resulted in land and environment conservation and gave support to the economy by reducing the need to expand the infrastructure which is very expensive.

New urban cities tend to expand and modify a large area of land, which result in a corresponding increase in mean temperatures in the absence of water and vegetation. Also high-rise buildings contribute to repelling the wind and thus added to the causes for the increase of the temperatures, as well as the pollution of all kinds and the heat generated from the use of electricity to run air conditioning units and from the industry are also causes of phenomenon of heat island. For that Dubai Municipality has conducted aerial thermal photography of Dubai to identify heat spots (islands) and identify the causes and find solutions and take necessary actions, that will reduce and mitigate this phenomenon by the increase of the green areas, the use of some means which deal efficiently with the movement of air and the creation of green and scenic corridors.

Achieving maximum amount of green spaces in the city is part of the concept of sustainable development at Dubai Municipality. This will contribute in creating Dubai as an excellent city that provides the essence of success and comfort of sustainable living for citizens and visitors.

It also considered that maintaining the architectural heritage is one of the pillars of sustainable urban planning, not because of the authenticity of some of the historic areas and buildings only, but also of values, ideas and cultures they represent.

Dubai Municipality has adopted the principles of strategic concepts to preserve biodiversity, environmental and nature conservation within the elements of sustainable urban planning. Dubai Municipality also provides support for the desert activities and efforts to protect wildlife and the implementation of the terms of “CITES” Convention for the protection of endangered species.

Sustainability Roadmap of Dubai Municipality in Shifting to a Sustainable City


The environment is one of the three basic pillars of sustainable development. For that Dubai Municipality has paidit special attention and has carried out many projects and initiatives in this regard.

Dubai Municipality has proceeded to monitor air quality in Dubai since 1988 in order to provide the basic data needed to monitor air quality in the city. In 1993 it established a new developed air monitoring network to be first of its kind in the region operate on a daily basis to monitor different types of air pollutants in order to reduce public exposure to any contamination in the air. Dubai Municipality is currently using an integrated monitoring network distributed strategically to cover all industrial and residential areas, consisting of six fixed stations and one mobile work to the clock in providing information and statistics which are important for studies evaluating land use and public transport projects.

Dubai Municipality gave great importance to the protection of the marine environment and waterways in the city of Dubai, through the conduct of studies and monitoring of water quality and marine soil, control activities and marine transports, clean up the creek, public awareness of the dangers of negative practices against the safety of the marine environment.

The Dubai Municipality has a lot of activities and programs to preserve the environment, which include coastal zone management and conservation of soil, water and biodiversity and wildlife parks, performs industrial control by monitoring waste products of industrial facilities and other activities.

Dubai Municipality gave also great importance to the environmental awareness issues because of its significant impact in improving the environmental practices and increase public awareness. It devoted great efforts in this field which include many activities and programs, publications, lectures and training programs and field visits.

Sustainability Roadmap of Dubai Municipality in Shifting to a Sustainable City


Solid waste in Dubai is major challenge as a result of the huge increase in the amount of waste with the lack of land for landfills. Dubai Municipality has realized the seriousness of the situation from the outset and runs the waste management effectively. It developed a program and a plan to achieve excellence through the integration and effectiveness of the practices of sustainable waste management, thereby enhancing the environmental and health standards of the Emirate of Dubai. This plan covers most types of waste, such as household waste, medical waste, hazardous waste, tires, agricultural waste and construction and demolition waste.

Dubai Municipality has launched recently an initiative under the slogan "My City My Environment" aims to separate recyclable materials from their source and recycling and reducing the amount of household waste that is buried by more than 35 percent down to zero by 2030 and develop a strategy to provide a quantity of waste material sufficient for the establishment of a national industry based on recycling. The initiative includes the distribution of containers for each household for waste separation in several stages. The first phase includes the distribution of more than 3,500 containers to some of the pilot areas. Later the initiative will be to extend to other areas in Dubai.

The initiative also includes deployment of modern environmental culture in all sectors of society in order to reduce waste production at the level of individuals through the application of the concept of sorting from the source

Dubai Municipality works on integrated study and economic feasibility in the field of public waste treatment to get rid of solid household waste and sludge from the sewage treatment plants by burning them in a safe manner which does not constitute a danger to the environment and in accordance with best international standards. The generated thermal energy will be used in the production of electricity.

Sustainability Roadmap of Dubai Municipality in Shifting to a Sustainable City


Dubai is one of few cities in the world where all its sewage water is treated and reused. It has a complete Drainage and irrigation Network. The generated treated waste water is used for the irrigation of street, islands, pavements, public parks and the surplus is used for recharging aquifers to enhance the ground water reserves.

Dubai Municipality starts the use of renewable sources of energy in full operation of the irrigation systems. The irrigation system which Dubai Municipality uses is an effective system that combines low cost and sustainable irrigation system appropriate to the environment through the use of solar energy and treated wastewater.


The construction boom witnessed by Dubai has put a lot of pressure on the natural resources especially energy and water causing great pressure on the environment due to contaminants and harmful residues resulting from this exploitation which made the issues of rationalizing the consumption of these resources a priority issues in the strategy of Dubai. The continuity of economic growth of Dubai can be achieved only by preserving the environmentand natural resources. And since the construction activities and buildings have clear effects on the environment, promoting and adopting sustainable architecture will tie the close link between the environment and the economy

The buildings in Dubai are the largest consumer of energy and water consumption where 75% of the electricity and 86% of the water is consumed in the buildings. For that Dubai Municipality has put building efficiency and sustainability as one of its priorities.

Sustainability Roadmap of Dubai Municipality in Shifting to a Sustainable City

Dubai Municipality has since 2003, applied thermal insulation and energy-saving in buildings as one of the internationally proven methods adopted to rationalize power consumption. Studies have shown that the thermal insulation system reduces up to 40% of the electrical energy used in buildings air conditioning.

The modern method followed by Dubai Municipality in the application of thermal insulation which is represented in performing research studies, review of studies, researches and applications in the field of thermal insulation in countries with a similar climate, the study of building materials and thermal insulation materials used and their standard specifications and their ability to insulate, mapping with the positive and negative aspects of these materials, their availability and suitability for the application in Dubai,working on public awareness and marketing of the idea of thermal insulation and its benefits, on the preparation and implementation of a comprehensive media plan for thermal insulation, the preparation and adoption of technical specifications for thermal insulation system in the Emirate of Dubai, works include building elements contained therein and the choice of materials consisting of its components, works on how to calculate the thermal loads and the determinants of the parameters for air conditioning system design, the specifications of thermal insulating materials, the requirement for their application and showing their benefits, activate the role of engineering consultants in its application,the preparation of a special laboratory and provide it with equipment necessary to test the thermal insulation materials, the appointment of specialized technical staff in Dubai Central Lab, issuance of procedures and flow charts needed to obtain building permits,In addition to regulating the relationship and clarify the methodology of work among all stakeholders such as Building Department, Dubai Central Lab, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, engineering consultants and construction companies,the development of a manual and an electronic copy of the procedures guide,distributing it to all engineering consultants for guidance and act accordingly, the preparation of a booklet containing all the comments and questions that have been raised through seminars and lectures by speakers and participants, all the technical points raised had been studied, analyzed and recommendations had been done for the development of the system and the methodology of work. A list of all tests related to materials and thermal insulation systems had been prepared and made available on the Internet.A questionnaire was prepared to explore the views of stakeholders on the activities of the team, on the efficiency of the list of technical specifications for the thermal insulation systems and on the seminars, lectures and the media campaign. Also, a Thermal Insulation Guide was prepared for thermal insulation material specifications and architectural and construction details of these materials in collaboration with a specialized consultancy office. The preparation of a study on the results of thermal insulation application in Government Housing units in the municipality, assess the benefits and constraints that may result from it and draw conclusions and recommendations.

All of that had a significant impact on the success of implementing the thermal insulation system and helped in its application properly and convinced the public on mandating it.

In 2008, Dubai Municipality began studying the application of the concept of green buildings in phases. The first phase is the application of elements which can be easily implemented and achieve a big results with a minimal cost, carry out an integrated complete study on the application of green building in Dubai fromall aspects of environmental, economic and societal and the preparation of Dubai Green Building Regulations and Specifications. The second phase, which extends from 2011 to 2013, was the application of the Regulations mandatory on all government buildings. In the third phase the Dubai Green Building Regulations and Specifications will be applied as mandatory for all other projects starting in 2014.The same modern method that has been applied in the application of thermal insulation system was followed in the application of green building system.

Dubai Municipality aiming through the application of the Dubai Green Building Regulations and Specifications to reduce electricity and water consumption in buildings by at least 20% and making sure not to increase the prices of buildings for at most 5%.

Dubai Municipality has prepared the Dubai Green Building Regulations and Specifications Guide and the Green Materials and Products Guide and made them available to download from Dubai Municipality website for free. Also, it established Dubai Green Lab with a lot of equipment necessary for testing and certification of green materials and equipment.

Sustainability Roadmap of Dubai Municipality in Shifting to a Sustainable City
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