Developed by the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council, the Estidama Pearl Rating System is a measurement of building designs for commercial and residential structures recently introduced (April 2010). Basing their system on lessons learned through the American LEED program and the British BREEAM program, the Pearl Rating System for Estidama (which means sustainability) is a green building system that reflects the unique environmental and cultural needs of the Emirates.
Estidama Pearl Design System (PDS) is structured around the four pillars of sustainability – environmental, economic, cultural, and social – and was originally meant to be a tool for use with mega building projects given the exponentially expanding population of the region. Similar LEED, PDS evaluates buildings over six categories on a five point rating system (5 is the best):
- Living systems
- Liveable communities/buildings
- Precious water
- Resourceful energy
- Stewarding materials
- Innovative practice
Although the PDS will be a voluntary green building rating system, there are portions of the review that will be mandatory. The 5th Pearl level (the highest) is intentionally high and requires that the building provide a net positive benefit to the environment in terms of water quality, energy production, and health of local ecosystems. The system also covers issues such as socially sustainable products and materials, ecotoxicity and health impacts of materials, and offsite renewable energy generation. For a detailed comparison of PDS to LEED and BREEAM, check out these articles on MIT Meydan and Carboun.