Usually new developments seeking LEED certification have to “prove themselves” – so to speak – before they can achieve any kind of certification. However, in order to recognize the division between owners and tenants of new developments, the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) makes an exception for core and shell buildings that are designed to be especially energy and resource-efficient.
This is how it’s possible that the Mubadala real estate company has been awarded LEED-CS Gold for Sowwah Square – a 450,000 sqm mixed-use development on Al Maryah Island in Abu Dhabi that is still under construction.
Abu Dhabi’s new CBD
When complete, the 105 hectare Al Maryah Island will be the site of Abu Dhabi’s new central business district (CBD), and Sowwah Square will be its nucleus.
In addition to hosting the new headquarters of the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX), this sprawling development will feature four commercial towers, several luxury hotels and roughly 33,000 sqm of retail and dining space.
It is being managed by John Buck International – a Mubadala joint venture company that claims to specialize in environmentally sustainable, premium grade commercial real estate development and forms part of the Urban Planning Council’s Plan Abu Dhabi 2030.
As we understand it, the LEED certification recognizes Mubadala’s efforts to site the project appropriately, install water and energy-efficient appliances and fittings, ensure optimum indoor air quality and promote innovative design.
However, the tenants, who are beginning to pour in, are under no obligation to do the same.
John Thomas, Executive Director of Mubadala Real Estate & Infrastructure said in a recent press release that the LEED Gold pre-certification for Core and Shell will enable the future tenants of Sowwah Square to feel confident about the development’s operational efficiencies.
But do they care?
As much as we would love to put our faith in building standards such as LEED, we will never be at ease calling luxury developments such as this “sustainable.”