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Attitudes and opinions to the introduction of the Pearl Building Rating System

Authors:
  • Replenish Earth Ltd

Abstract

In September 2010, the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC) introduced a mandatory requirement for buildings, communities and villas called the Pearl Building Rating System (PBRS). This came at a time when the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was quoted to have the highest Carbon Footprint in the world. This exciting initiative to reduce malpractice in the construction industry, illustrated the UPC’s clear intention to intervene. The UPC challenges short-term, unsustainable building projects, and instead, encourages the industry to consider natural systems, water and energy use, thermal comfort, innovative and integrated development processes. Combining the strength of similar rating systems, such as LEED, BREEAM, and Green Star, PBRS presents a three-part rating. Two of the three (Design and Construction) are ready for application and the first projects to receive building permits have met the PBRS minimum standard. The question remains whether the stakeholders of the construction industry are ready for such regulation, and if not how they can prepare themselves. In 2011, 51 built environment professionals were surveyed at the annual Cityscape Exhibition and Conference in Abu Dhabi, to gauge their opinions of PBRS. The professionals were not a representative sample but an indication of the attendees visiting Cityscape who showed interest in gathering knowledge of PBRS. The respondents were questioned about the barriers to the application of PBRS and their attitude towards its introduction. This paper analyses PBRS by the opinions of the stakeholders and suggests recommendations and practical objectives to improve the uptake of better standards in the construction industry.
GCREEDER 2013, Amman-Jordan, September 10th – 12th 2013 1
Attitudes and opinions to the introduction of the Pearl Building Rating
System
T. Kansara1
1 University College London, Energy Institute, London, E-mail: tia.kansara.10@ucl.ac.uk
ABSTRACT
In September 2010, the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC) introduced a mandatory requirement for buildings,
communities and villas called the Pearl Building Rating System (PBRS). This came at a time when the United Arab Emirates
(UAE) was quoted to have the highest Carbon Footprint in the world. This exciting initiative to reduce malpractice in the
construction industry, illustrated the UPC’s clear intention to intervene. The UPC challenges short-term, unsustainable building
projects, and instead, encourages the industry to consider natural systems, water and energy use, thermal comfort, innovative
and integrated development processes.
Combining the strength of similar rating systems, such as LEED, BREEAM, and Green Star, PBRS presents a three-part
rating. Two of the three (Design and Construction) are ready for application and the first projects to receive building permits
have met the PBRS minimum standard. The question remains whether the stakeholders of the construction industry are ready
for such regulation, and if not how they can prepare themselves.
In 2011, 51 built environment professionals were surveyed at the annual Cityscape Exhibition and Conference in Abu
Dhabi, to gauge their opinions of PBRS. The professionals were not a representative sample but an indication of the attendees
visiting Cityscape who showed interest in gathering knowledge of PBRS. The respondents were questioned about the barriers
to the application of PBRS and their attitude towards its introduction. This paper analyses PBRS by the opinions of the
stakeholders and suggests recommendations and practical objectives to improve the uptake of better standards in the
construction industry.
1. INTRODUCTION
Abu Dhabi is a global capital city mindful of its
infrastructural capacity expanding at an exponential rate
over the past forty years [Abu-Lughod, in Gugler, 1996:
p.191]. International and local expertise is a prerequisite
to ensure best practice in both existing and new urban
plans. These urban plans encompass climate responsive
design, and traditional design elements. Due to
inappropriate site planning, current buildings are
unsuitable to Abu Dhabi’s climate, they often require
huge loads for cooling, with inappropriate orientation,
envelopes and glazing. It is said that the figures will only
get worse [Clair, 2009].
“Abu Dhabi owns 7.4 percent
of the world’s proven oil
resources, 3.2 percent of global
proven natural gas supplies. Abu
Dhabi’s gross domestic product
is well over half of the federal
total, and it is currently planning
to spend $175 billion on
economic diversification over a
period of six years.” [Luomi,
2011]
Primarily from oil revenues, the construction industry
has grown from 26.3 billion AED to 55.2 billion AED.
Within four years the building industry has more than
doubled [SCAD, 2010] and from the oil-export revenue,
a global city has emerged [Ghanem, 2001]. The speed at
which modernization has taken place and changes to the
urban environment are noteworthy. The coalescing of
architectural and urban styles over time has become a
challenge to maintain. One reason for this is an
imbalance between light and heavy consumers of energy
and water. The Abu Dhabi government is legislating a
reduction in the use of energy and water, firstly by the
PBRS rating and secondly by the reduction of subsidies.
This is because a doubling of water and a tripling of
energy demand is expected by 2030 [ADWEA, 2009].
Much construction will take place before 2030 for which
the speedy uptake of legislation mindful of sustainability
is timely.
During the global economic downturn, the Emirate
remained agile by introducing key strategic economic
transformations, namely, diversification to create an
independence from oil-revenues [Abu Dhabi
Government, 2008; Butt, 2001: p.231]. At the heart of
this is the desire to reduce energy and water
consumption. In current energy paradigms, much is
needed to scale down the requirements to maintain the
urban sector. Demand-side management, energy and
water security, as well as transfer of both knowledge and
technology must be central to the process [Luomi, 2011].
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GCREEDER 2013, Amman-Jordan, September 10th – 12th 2013 2
Simultaneous to the process of legislation, industry is
pushing for a standard in the construction industry,
reacting to economic and environmental factors.
Answering this need, Abu Dhabi is challenging its
conventional design process, which shows a lack of
collaborative team involvement and synergy (See Table
1).
Table 1: Comparison of Design Process in Abu
Dhabi
Source: PBRS, 2009
An integrated process is applied to PBRS to best utilize
the skills of the design team, whilst applying a systems
thinking approach to synergize till completion.
2. PBRS
HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown
Prince of Abu Dhabi (HH), created the Abu Dhabi Urban
Planning Council (UPC) by Emiri Decree number 23 in
2007. The UPC is the agency responsible for overseeing
the development of Abu Dhabi’s future urban
environments and initiated the PBRS Program, which
governs the Pearl Rating System. The visioning of future
urban developments is a task necessary to shape Abu
Dhabi’s urban growth.
In response to ‘Vision 2030’, a tool for economic
diversification in Abu Dhabi (by the Executive Council)
the UPC introduced ‘Plan Abu Dhabi 2030 Urban
Structure Framework1 (published in September 2007),
commonly referred to as Plan Abu Dhabi 2030. To
achieve the sustainability vision for Abu Dhabi, the
1 The aims of the Plan 2030 (UPC 2008):
A significant environmental analysis to better
understand the ecological assets of Abu Dhabi,
and its rare sea and desert location;
A comprehensive audit by city planning experts,
to evaluate the ‘master plans’ of proposed major
developments here in Abu Dhabi;
A much-needed analysis of the city’s needs in
terms of infrastructure and transport, in addition
to a study into housing and settlement
building industry must readjust to new guidelines; this is
where PBRS fits, to improve the current industrial
framework. Plan 2030 (hereon referred as) covers the
urban development of three specific areas of Abu Dhabi:
1. Abu Dhabi Island
2. Al Ain
3. Al Gharbia
Chaired by HH, the UPC’s Estidama2 initiative
launched PBRS core to the wishes of late HH Sheikh
Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and HH Sheikh Khalifa bin
Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE. The delivery
encompasses factors such as the protection and
preservation of the environment, and reaches towards
improved sustainability, better community planning, and
a better quality of life.
“The Pearl Rating System
for PBRS aims to address the
sustainability of a given
development throughout its
lifecycle from design through
construction to operation. The
Pearl Rating System provides
design guidance and detailed
requirements for rating a
project’s potential.” [PRS,
2010: p.1]
The objective of PBRS is to lead the confluence
between the built environment and its social, cultural and
economic environment. See Fig.1 for a breakdown of the
four pillars to achieve PBRS [PBRS, 2010 PPT].
Figure 1: Structure of the Estidama, PBRS scheme
Source: PRS, 2010: PBRS’s 4 pillars; PBRS’s
structure3.
2 Arabic for sustainability.
3 Mentioned in Arabian Business Online as: appropriate,
market sensitive, incremental and will raise the quality of
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GCREEDER 2013, Amman-Jordan, September 10th – 12th 2013 3
PBRS was mandated in 2010 under the guidance of
UPC. Of the one to five Pearls possible to gain - Pearl 5,
the best rating, is the most challenging, see Fig. 2.
Figure 2: PBRS scoring structure
Source: PBRS, 2010: Mandatory Credits for PBRS.
To achieve 5 Pearls, projects need to gain 140 credits
as well as all minimum requirements for all categories
(explained in detail later). The UPC mandated the
minimum requirement for all buildings in Abu Dhabi:
1. All New Communities to be 1 Pearl
2. All New Buildings and villas to be 1 Pearl
3. All Government Led Buildings etc. 2 Pearl4
2.1. How does the PBRS function?
PBRS seamlessly fits into the other government
agencies, such as Department of Municipal Affairs
(DMA), Abu Dhabi Municipality (ADM) and
Environment Agency (EAD). It represents an integrated
approach to improving the existing built environment as
well as planned developments. And finally, it provides
suitable incentives to key stakeholders to adopt its
requirements. agency collaboration, necessary supply
chains cannot be identified. This leads to irresponsible
development.
In a presentation given to the EAD in 2010, PBRS
outlined the following core aims:
1. Efficient use of existing natural resource;
2. Protection and stewardship of existing habitat and
bio-diversity;
3. Higher efficiency in the built environment;
4. Promotion of sustainable developments.
the urban environment”. Accessed May 10th 2011:
http://www.arabianbusiness.com/PBRS-reveals-pearl-
rating-system-almost-11356.html
4 Examples of government projects which are subject to 2 pearl
mandatory requirements include: Government-issued Emirate
Housing projects; Courts, government judicial offices; ADNEC
exhibition centres and ancillary offices; ADNOC offices and
support facilities; ADACH Cultural Facilities; AD Police
facilities that are for police-related functions; Musanada
projects; universities and colleges; local & federal government
buildings; All public schools; All government hospitals; ADAC
owned and operated facilities; Department of Transportation
facilities.
These aims create less demand of energy and water,
improving natural resource consumption by minimizing
waste whilst creating synergies between the highly
unregulated built environments. Starting with the ADM,
PBRS integrated the existing ADM building permit
process with the use of tools to guide projects and
effectively communicate their intentions. See
Appendices for further information of the documents that
compliment PBRS applications.5
These documents are applied on the building side to
various build types. The building types, their sites and
associated facilities are defined below [PRS, 2010 p.7]:
1. General: this applies to all building
uses and covers the common requirements.
Within individual credits, exemptions or
differing requirements may be specified for the
following building uses.
2. Office: this applies to offices and
associated spaces (meeting rooms,
reception/waiting areas, staff facilities, server
rooms etc.).
3. Retail: this applies to display and sale
of goods, food retail (supermarkets,
convenience stores), food preparation
(restaurants, cafés, takeaways) and service
providers (banks, post offices, travel agencies).
This category also includes shopping centers,
department stores and retail parks.
4. Multi-Residential: this applies to
multi-family residential developments. All
villas must be assessed using the Pearl Villa
Rating System.
5. School: this applies to primary schools,
secondary schools, sixth form colleges and
further and higher education/vocational colleges
and institutions.
6. Mixed Use: this applies to
combinations of two or more of the above usage
categories. Where relevant, individual credit
calculations should be based on an area-
weighted average. [PRS, 2010 p.7]
For each of the above building types seven categories
are tested. Each factor is awarded its own weighting
within. The following table outlines the seven categories;
notice the weightings for “Precious Water” and
“Resourceful Energy”. Combined, Energy and Water
they contribute 49% (See Fig. 3) of the total points
awarded for a Pearl 5 rated building (excluding bonus
points).
Figure 3: PBRS credit headings
5 The Pearl Rating System documents are available to
download from www.upc.gov.ae. The website also contains
FAQ, revisions and training information.
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GCREEDER 2013, Amman-Jordan, September 10th – 12th 2013 4
Source: PRS, 2010: Section Weightings
To achieve the aim of a sustainable lifecycle for a
building project, PBRS is organized to:
1. Improve “cross-disciplinary team-
work” between the various stakeholders to
provide quality assurance and environmental
management during the life of the project:
Integrated Development Process.
2. “Conserve, preserve and restore”
Abu Dhabi’s natural environments and habitats:
Natural Systems
3. Improve the thermal comfort and
connectivity of the internal and external spaces:
Livable Buildings.
4. Reduce the demand for water and
“encourage efficient distribution” by
monitoring: Precious Water.
5. Reduce the demand for energy,
improve efficiency by introducing “passive
design measures” with renewable sources:
Resourceful Energy.
6. Life cycle analysis of materials:
Stewarding Materials.
7. Innovate building design and
construction to “facilitate market and industry
transformation” Innovating Practice. [Adapted
from PRS, 2010: p.1]
For a smooth transition from the existing framework
to PBRS, it was first necessary to segregate the ratings
into three different categories of building projects:
Community, Building and Villas. All of which have the
design and construction elements of PBRS. The
ownership of the project moves between the design team,
the construction team and finally the facility
management team. This is why an “operational” final
section is inevitable to close the loop in the building
project. It will provide a post occupancy evaluation of
the Pearl-rated buildings. For all existing building stock,
an assessment, which includes energy and water
efficiency, amongst other requirements in retrospect is
under development.
The above seven categories are tested three times
during the construction of a building. PBRS addresses
both the Pearl Design Rating and the Pearl Construction
Rating. The Pearl Operational Rating is currently under
development [PRS, 2010: p.3]. A short summary is
outlined below in the next three paragraphs:
- Pearl Design Rating – The Design Rating rewards
measures adopted during the design development of the
project that meet the intent and requirements of each
credit. The Design Rating recognizes the additional
marketing value and branding a Pearl Rating will afford
a development in its early sale or lease phase. A Pearl
Design Rating is valid only until construction is
complete, and requires that all collateral, branding and
communication materials identify the project as a Pearl
Design Rated project. [PRS, 2010: p.3]
- Pearl Construction Rating - The Construction
Rating ensures that the commitments made for the
Design Rating have been achieved. The Construction
Rating requires that all collateral, branding and
communication materials identify the project as a Pearl
Construction Rated project.
- Pearl Operational Rating – The operational rating
assesses the built-in features and operational
performance of an existing building and ensures the
building is operating sustainably. The operational rating
can only be achieved a minimum of two years after
construction completion and when the building has
reached a minimum occupancy of 80%. [PRS, 2010: p.3]
The final development of the PBRS Operational Rating
will align with the mandated requirements of the
EHSMS (Abu Dhabi Emirate Environment, Health and
Safety Management System). 6
2.2. Pearl Qualified Professional7
To achieve the above rating for design and
construction, it is important to appoint a PQP. The PQP
facilitates the rating of the project as well as the co-
ordination for submission of the documents. During the
life of the project the PQP becomes a member of the
design team during both the design and construction
stages. It is not announced whether the PQP will be a
member of the post occupancy stage. Information on the
training of PBRS is available on the PBRS website.8 To
become a PQP, the individual must pass an exam, which
will test their administrative and technical knowledge of
the Pearl Rating System. It is necessary to have some
6 For more information see:
www.ead.ae/en/portal/ad.ehsms.aspx
7 The researcher took this exam 19th February 2011 and
was amongst the first to be PQP certified, see appendices
for certification. The course introduces PBRS with an
analysis of the scope and its applicability; the various
stages of the rating; details of the preparation for
submission, such as the documents and tools.
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GCREEDER 2013, Amman-Jordan, September 10th – 12th 2013 5
architecture and engineering experience, though not
necessary. With the introduction of the mandate, many
professionals have taken the PQP-qualification to cater
for the market.
In May 2013 there were 7064 PQP certified
professionals [UPC, 2013]. 8 Prometric, an independent
examining body was used to provide credible scoring for
each individual taking the exam.
Figure 4: PQP Team
Source: PRS, 2010
PQP provides “quality-assurance” to documentation
prior to submission [PRS, 2010: p.4], accompanied by a
Pearl Assessor who works with the PBRS team to
qualify building projects. See Fig.4 for a diagram of the
project teams and fig. 5 for a more in-depth analysis of
how PBRS fits into the various stakeholders.
Figure 5: PBRS Project teams
8 http://PBRS.org/training-and-exams/pearl-qualified-
professional-(pqp)-exam-program.aspx?lang=en-US [assessed
29th May 2011]
Source: PBRS, 2010: PPT.
3. LITERATURE REVIEW
Rating systems act as a measure of industry’s
progress to cater to the changing designs of buildings - to
improve their energy and water consumption; life cycle
analysis; carbon foot printing; Post Occupancy
Evaluation (POE)1 or Post Occupancy Monitoring
(POM)2; and also the involvement of the local
community by urban agricultural projects [Crawley et
al., 1999]. Crawley et al and Kaatz, et al., have assigned
the measurements to two categories, namely:
1. Measuring environmental
impacts on design;
2. Construction and property
management activities and the environmental
impact of buildings (as products).
Fenner et al. extends this by expressing that rating
systems also facilitate the following:
3. Sustainable building design
(including human health and well-being)
4. Cost and traditional design
criteria.
As Abu Dhabi’s construction industry moves away
from older engineering methods, it is just as important to
introduce ratings systems, which improve construction
patterns. Fenner et al., in 2007, suggests emerging trends
that will shape the development of future rating systems.
In a comparison between BREEAM (Building Research
Establishment Method) and LEED (the international
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design),
Fenner et al. discuss the limitations to the rating systems
in their application to innovative sustainable
1 See the Usable Building Trust and their Probe studies by Bill
Bordass and Adrian Leaman. Also see an evaluation of 100
LEED accredited buildings by Newsham et al. [2009] and its
counter argument by Scofield, J. H., 2009. For a
comprehensive comparison of the top rating systems see
Saunders, T. [2008].
2 See Kansara, T. (2013)
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GCREEDER 2013, Amman-Jordan, September 10th – 12th 2013 6
development such as that seen by the Canadian Green
Building Council (for further comparisons see Fowler et
al. 2006, Lee et al. 2008).
A comparison between PBRS, LEED and BREEAM,
highlights many similarities [Elgendy, 2011]. However,
upon further investigation LEED and BREEAM do not
have significance to the desert-climate or culture.
Although LEED and BREEAM have created Gulf-
friendly versions, assessments of industry’s opinions and
attitudes towards these are still lacking. Schleich et al.
discusses the lack of perspective of the real estate
professionals. Consultancies may have validated their
rating systems with industry surveys but these are not
readily accessible. Bowman and Wills [2008] completed
a small survey of some 19 people to whom they asked
whether Green Star [an Australian rating system) is
“future-proofed”.
Wilkinson et al. [2007: p.7] discuss factors affecting
real estate professionals. Professionals feel “they do not
know enough”. The paper lacks quantitative data
analysis to confirm this. Contrary to this, Chong et al.
have tried to understand perceptions of sustainability in
the construction industry. They surveyed 200 civil
engineers in 2006. Their paper, Understanding and
interpreting baseline perceptions of sustainability in
construction among Civil Engineers in the United States,
[Chong et al. 2009] suggests a lack of understanding of
sustainability among stakeholders could impede
advancement [Chong et al. 2009: p.3, Wood, 2003].
Chong et al.’s paper is based on the perception of
civil engineers on the need for sustainable construction -
the questions used are a good basis for investigating the
opinions of stakeholders. In Chong et al.’s study, all of
professionals are citizens of the United States. Of those
questioned, 64% were familiar with LEED and only 19%
were familiar with other international rating systems. In
a similar study, Khalfan et al. discuss 13 practitioners’
perspectives towards sustainable construction in
Australia. Financial incentives and the availability of
green materials appear to be the biggest drivers.
Following which, accessibility to adequate methods
and assessment tools act as significant barriers for
professionals [Fenner et al. 2007]. Both the complexity
of the tool’s use and the education provided to the user
affects the outcome of the rating system. Do
professionals subjected to PBRS have adequate
education of its value? If suitable training and
certification systems are not in place, this may impede
the progress of the rating system. In some cases, having
workshops open to all professionals appears beneficial to
all stakeholders in the building industry [Fenner et al.
2007]. Industrial opposition to PBRS is expected, due to
the change in standards that stakeholders have become
comfortable following. Goods and services respond to
new demands. Opposition is met by clients who are
afraid of the implications of the reality of their schemes.3
Alternatively by those who see the immediate rise in cost
of construction.
The cost of green building is assessed by Piet, et al. in
The Economics of Green Buildings [Piet, et al. 2010].
Piet et al. suggest the impact of energy costs on
stakeholders and comment on the limited research on
economic viability of the sustainable construction [Piet,
et al. 2010: p.4]. They conclude that small sustainable
improvements in the built environment, can have large
effects on energy efficiency within the economy. [Piet, et
al. 2010: p.21]. Government incentives to reduce prices
of approved environmentally friendly goods and services
are thereby necessary [Austrade, 2008, Ecospecifier,
2008].
“The construction and
property sector is also starting
to acknowledge their
responsibilities for the
environment- causing a shift in
how buildings are designed,
built and operated.” [Crawley
et al., 1999]4
Nakheel, a Dubai-based developer, conducted market
research with 400 residents from Abu Dhabi, Dubai and
Sharjah:
"In the past, quality has
been one of the most important
factors for potential customers.
This is the first time we've
seen environmental concerns
come through this strongly” -
Matt Joyce, Managing
Director of Waterfront
Nakheel.
With a focus on environmental protection in Abu
Dhabi, PBRS is shifting the construction industry to low-
energy design. The change is due to various factors, for
example, design and technology advancements, risk
management and marketability. Economic costs and
opportunities may not be clear to a client, hence, design
intensive professionals such as architects, will have a
head start in introducing changes to clients, as they will
3 Once a building is fully occupied, real-time energy and
water consumption is rarely available for POE. This is
detrimental to our understanding of how buildings-in-use
can evaluate improvements to the structure and built-in
features.
4 See Piet, E., Kok, N., Quigley, J. M. [2010] The Economics
of Green Building, Working Papers, Berkeley Program on
Housing and Urban Policy, Institute of Business and Economic
Research, UC Berkeley
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GCREEDER 2013, Amman-Jordan, September 10th – 12th 2013 7
convince clients of new regulations and changes in
market supplies [Clair, 2009: p.3]. These changes have
yet to occur in a competitive manner in Abu Dhabi and
literature on existing rating systems is limited in
understanding Abu Dhabi-specific issues. By July 2013,
a total of 726,884m2 were completed with the PBRS
rating with 384 development [UPC, 2013].
This paper thus aims to provide a starting point for
further investigation of the Pearl Rating System (PBRS).
3.1. UPC PBRS Test
In 2009, the UPC completed a testing phase of PBRS
by gauging the reaction of various stakeholders before
PBRS was introduced as a regulation. The results of this
pilot test fed into the full launch in 2010. The target
audiences were:
1. Government Professionals
Municipalities, UPC staff
2. Industry Professionals
Architects, Developers, Engineers
3. Public Villa Owners
Students, Business Groups
From the pilot, PBRS found improvements regarding
the process, strategies and techniques that were most
effective in achieving the high level of sustainability in
the building projects. The following are some of the
popular areas of improvement.
1. For the clients to optimize the
performance of the building with minimization
of the costs.
2. Engage in dialogues with the
stakeholders to provide transparent information
regarding market factors, costs of construction,
material choices and how improved
sustainability would affect the current trade in
Abu Dhabi.
3. To incentivize the stakeholders to
accept PBRS.
The Pilot included meetings and workshops, which
allowed the various stakeholders to collaborate in a
unique manner to understand the tools used. This
allowed the PBRS team to provide counsel on the best
practices, techniques and strategies to improve project
performance with feedback from the applicants. The
applicants provided valuable information on the shaping
of the rating system and in return they received the
advice of the trained individuals from the PBRS team.
4. METHODOLOGY
PBRS gives a building permit once the minimum
requirement of sustainable construction is assessed.
With the help of PQPs there is a reduction of resource
wastage. Furthermore, a feedback loop to reduce energy
and water consumption also takes place. As a Pearl
Qualified Professional, the author prepared a
questionnaire to use at Cityscape, a summit of
construction industry professionals in Abu Dhabi in
2011. The aim was to test the opinions and attitudes
towards PBRS. The qualitative method applied took into
consideration user satisfaction theory. The questions
aimed to gauge the changes to methods used to evaluate
occupant satisfaction in the built environment, namely
the Build in Use Survey (BUS) and the Kansara Survey.
The Kansara Survey, used in Abu Dhabi during the
summer of 2011 and 2012 proved to aid in getting a
continuous monitoring in place to evaluate attitudes in
transitional zones in buildings whilst in situ. The aim of
the questionnaire in this paper was to capture current
perceptions also.
The author approached every stand at the summit to
interview the person in charge. After much deliberation,
a member of the stand would agree to answering the
questions as well as being recorded. The author was not
interested in documenting gender, age, ethnicity,
education level and time spent in Abu Dhabi, but their
perceptions of PBRS.
The aim of the questionnaire was to see how many
practitioners knew about PBRS and whether some
sectors were more familiar with PBRS than others. This
would allow the PBRS team to understand what the
baseline awareness of PBRS is, and which sectors were
in need of more information. Furthermore, the question
arose as to whether any of the practitioners had followed
PBRS and were speaking from experience of having
applied the rating system. See Appendices for the
questionnaire that was used.
The questions aimed to ask the respondents what
their opinions were of the PBRS, its role in improving
building performance in Abu Dhabi and whether
sufficient training had taken place for them to administer
the rating system. Further to this, the respondents were
asked about the complexity and expense of the PBRS.
The time with respondents was used to investigate the
barriers to building performance assessments in the
Emirate and whether it was necessary to improve the
environmental performance of the buildings and if the
benchmarks posed in the PBRS were achievable and
possible through POE.
In addition the respondents were asked which sector
they worked, with an aim to get an even split between
respondents from a design background (Group A) and
that of contracting (Group B).
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GCREEDER 2013, Amman-Jordan, September 10th – 12th 2013 8
5. DATA ANALYSIS
Figure 6. displays a Tree diagram of the respondents’
professions. This showed the diversity of the respondents
and the opportunity to gauge contrasting opinions of the
rating system. From the questionnaire, the data showed
no significance in comparing opinions of PBRS between
Group A and Group B. Both groups were relatively
equal with their opinions towards it. The confidence
interval did not show significant information regarding
the differences in application, cost, data collection or
benchmarks of PBRS. This could be due to a small
sample size of insignificant confidence intervals (See
Fig. 7).
Figure 6: Tree Diagram
Of the respondents 100% agreed that PBRS would
improve building performance. Of those asked 78%
had heard of PBRS and 70% received sufficient
training; 52% had experienced problems in
implementation of PBRS and 48% had made direct
applications; 90% were familiar with LEED and 92%
strongly agreed to Post Occupancy Evaluation being
inclusive of PBRS.
There is a strong improvement overall in the use of
building performance evaluation. With the introduction
of the PBRS and growing recognition of the rating
standards, the PBRS is sure to attract changes to the
built environment in Abu Dhabi.
Figure 7: Analysis of Confidence intervals
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GCREEDER 2013, Amman-Jordan, September 10th – 12th 2013 9
Comparing both Groups A and B, the results show
there is not much of a change between the attitudes of
designers and contractors towards the introduction of
the PBRS.
Figure 8: Wordle of respondents’ perceptions of the
barriers to the application of PBRS.
The Fig. 8 shows the most frequently used terms
used by respondents when answering what they found
were the barriers to energy assessments. These
common barriers included:
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GCREEDER 2013, Amman-Jordan, September 10th – 12th 2013 10
1. A lack of trained professionals
capable of administering the paperwork
necessary to apply for building permits or
legal documents.
2. The legislative framework to enforce
PBRS.
3. Lack of skilled workforce to apply
PBRS.
4. The time needed to apply to gain
approvals.
5. Lack of client knowledge about
PBRS, thus unwillingness to pay as the
lifecycle benefits are not understood.
6. Knowing who takes on the extra cost
of applying more environmentally friendly
design features.
7. Manufacturers not ready to undertake
sustainable values.
8. Different requirements for different
municipalities leaves professionals confused.
9. The mentality of short-term high
return on investment.
10. No financial incentives to reduce
water and solid waste.
11. To make PBRS a culture it takes
time bring awareness and change behaviours.
The respondents were further questioned to gauge
which elements of POE would be necessary in further
assessments of PBRS. Common themes suggested the
use of energy and water metering. Incentives for
behaviour change, for example, the administering of
regular maintenance on buildings by introducing key
return on investment. Thus providing economic
incentives for ensuring the buildings are performing to
their designs. This would encourage design teams and
promote transparency of best practices.
Further to these themes highlighted in the
questionnaires, respondents mentioned the need for
sustainability in the use of the buildings.
Recommendations included day light efficiency, end
user satisfaction surveys and minimal resource
consumption to improve the overall functioning of
buildings. The PBRS fails in one respect to assess the
existing buildings in need of retrospective assessments.
In the future this will help determine what measures
can be taken to reduce their energy and water
consumption as well as change factors to improve the
overall efficiency of the building.
6. RECOMMENDATIONS
Some professionals are not affected by the mandate
because they are still completing projects assigned
before PBRS became compulsory. This could suggest
why there is a lack of knowledge about PBRS.
Although PBRS is well known, it has yet to penetrate
the market in Abu Dhabi. This paper suggests the need
for the education of clients as well as building
professionals. This is because they tend not to
understand that it is an extra cost to the design and
construction team. If this is understood, appreciation
for the extra time allotted to the project, will improve
relations between the various stakeholders. The
professionals interviewed may fall into the category of
what Schleich et al. call the circle of blame (See Fig.
9). This suggests that the stakeholders do not feel a
sense of responsibility towards the implementation of
PBRS.
Figure 9: Circle of blame
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GCREEDER 2013, Amman-Jordan, September 10th – 12th 2013 11
Source: Schleich et al. 2010 “Circle of blame”
Education may take the form of workshops,
seminars, feedback sessions, and online dialogue. All
of which can enhance the market penetration of PBRS
and provide a test-bed for future versions.
The long-term incentives in using the PBRS are
numerous. Some suggestions by respondents include
CO2 reduction overall by making stakeholders
responsible for operational costs. The PBRS will lead
to the rectification of social issues of education towards
more sustainable smarter living. Masdar City is one
such scheme seen by respondents to have begun the
task of changing mindsets in Abu Dhabi.
7. CONCLUSION
This study helped to document perceptions towards
PBRS. Although the sample was not representative, it
does show the need for better awareness. It also shows
how professionals feel towards the cost, application,
benchmarks and data needed for qualification. A
hundred percent of those professionals questioned,
agreed to PBRS improving environmental performance
of the buildings in Abu Dhabi. This encouragement
was further strengthened by almost a hundred percent
agreeing to the addition of a post occupancy evaluation
of buildings that are PBRS certified.
In order to create a good base for the uptake, there
is a serious need for professionals to have buy-in from
the outset. Their involvement and evaluation of the
rating system is necessary to improve reach and consult
on major decisions to improve it. Lack of synergy in
the rating system results in a lack of innovation,
therefore a lack of support from the construction
industry. This begins a downward spiral towards
reducing performance in buildings and increasing the
cost of implementation. Each stage of PBRS informs
the next, this is a pragmatic method to maintain
continuity.
The on going monitoring of the buildings will allow
for fine-tuning of PBRS in light of the feedback and
opinions of professionals who use it. This is a mutually
beneficial activity and should be encouraged. In light
of the lack of knowledge of PBRS, suitable workshops
to educate professionals working in Abu Dhabi can
instigate better awareness. Professionals will benefit by
having a better image in the construction industry,
reducing their costs to the implementation as market
forces bring an element of competition to the pricing of
services.
It is perhaps too early to analyze whether a 5-Pearl-
rated building standard will lead to truly zero-carbon
and zero-waste target, but what it will do has to be
applauded, as it will definitely lead to a timely
improvement to achieving the Green objectives of the
Abu Dhabi construction industry. PBRS is possibly
rightly claimed by its authors as not just another rating
system, but a vision to lay down a new sustainable way
of life to enrich Abu Dhabi's physical built form as
well as preserving its unique cultural identity. As with
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GCREEDER 2013, Amman-Jordan, September 10th – 12th 2013 12
all quality rating systems, it takes time before assessing
whether users recognize that their lives and comfort
have improved. The research and feedback received
during this study showed there was a willingness to be
positive amongst the building stakeholders and users.
These initial encouraging signs should raise the
spirits of the political and technical pioneers who, a
couple of years ago, set out to have a new rating
system specifically for Abu Dhabi with its extreme
climatic characteristics.
By persisting in getting the PBRS universally
established within the Emirate, by 2020, others in the
geographical area may be able to measure the success
of the initiative and to learn from the lessons of the
Abu Dhabi PBRS scheme. It is also useful for
expatriate professionals relying on more general
international standards as LEED and BREEAM to
understand the need for a bespoke rating system, which
evolves with time.
Most encouraging of all, is the acceptance from the
players, such as the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning
Council, that the scheme has in-built flexibility. A
much needed requirement in an area of the world
where fast changing concepts of sustainability are
being experienced.
Abu Dhabi has shown that mass-producing
buildings is not enough. PBRS is about more than
building standards. It is also concerned with social and
cultural aspects of life. Not just economic needs, but
raising the human spirit.
Three years ago eyes of the construction world
looked at Masdar as a unique building experiment.
Responding to this attention, the government through,
its PBRS initiative, is aiming to make the Emirate
synonymous with the word sustainability.
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Appendices
Appendix A: PBRS Certification of author
Appendix B: Documents (names and ownership)
PBRS is combined with the following documents to deliver projects in Abu Dhabi:
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GCREEDER 2013, Amman-Jordan, September 10th – 12th 2013 14
Pearl Rating System – Owned and implemented by UPC & ADM
International Building Code – Owned and implemented by DMA and ADM
Abu Dhabi EHSMS – Owned and implemented by DMA and EAD
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GCREEDER 2013, Amman-Jordan, September 10th – 12th 2013 15
Abu Dhabi Development Code – Owned and implemented by UPC
Appendix C: Questionnaire
1. Which Sector/Business Activity do you represent?
Real Estate Developer
Residential
Office
Commercial
Hotel & Leisure
Retail / Industrial
Cities & Regional Authorities
Investment Promotion Agency
Economic Development Authority
City Promotion Agency and Authority
Location marketing agency
Regional Development and Investment Zone
Inward Investment Organization
Real Estate Investors
Bank
Financial Institution
Investment Company
Fund Management Company
Private Investor
Pension Fund
Insurance Company
Private Equity Investor
Asset Management Company
Sovereign Wealth Fund
Service Providers
Architect
Designer
Urban Planner
Real Estate Owner
Consultant
Engineering Consultant
Contractor
Project Management Company
Construction Company
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GCREEDER 2013, Amman-Jordan, September 10th – 12th 2013 16
Property Advisor
Real Estate Solution Providers
Real Estate Development Consultant
2. Have you heard of the Pearl Rating system/ PBRS?
YES
NO
3. Are you familiar with other sustainability rating systems like LEED, BREAM?
YES
NO
4. Since inception of PBRS in September 2010, have you been involved, in any capacity with a scheme
for which a PBRS permit has been sought?
YES
NO
5. If yes, how many PBRS permits have you received?
6. Do you believe that introduction of a scheme such as PBRS was necessary to improve the
environmental performance of Abu Dhabi’s buildings?
YES
NO
7. What is your opinion of PBRS?
On a scale of 1 to 5, 1= Strongly Disapprove, 5 =Strongly Approve
12345
8. Have you or your institution received sufficient training about PBRS procedure?
9. What problems do you see in the implementation of PBRS?
10. PBRS will also introduce a post occupancy evaluation, what do you think about this?
On a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being Strongly Disapproves, 5 being Strongly Approve
12345
11. What elements of POE do you think are necessary?
12. What are the barriers to completing energy, building assessments in Abu Dhabi?
13. In your opinion what is your attitude to PBRS:
12345
SIMPLE COMPLEX
EXPENSIVE INEXPENSIVE
QUICK TO
UNDERTAKE
SLOW TO
UNDERTAKE
NOT ENOUGH
DATA IS
COLLECTED
TOO MUCH
DATA IS
COLLECTED
TOO MANY TOO MANY
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GCREEDER 2013, Amman-Jordan, September 10th – 12th 2013 17
QUANTITATI
VE
BENCHMARK
S
QUANTITATI
VE
BENCHMARK
S
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