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Will Abu Dhabi Help Create a Sustainable Dubai?
December 2009

Terry Mock
Executive Director

As editorialized here in a previous column, if ever there was an urban area anywhere on Earth that epitomized the excesses of the boom years between 2002 and 2007, it has to be Dubai. A sign that this large-scale land development extravaganza was veering to unsustainable excess should have been Dubai’s decision to erect a 200-story building that would make it the world’s tallest structure. Other telltale signs should have been Dubai’s determination to build the world’s largest man-made artificial islands as well as a major ski resort in the desert – all developed with dwindling oil reserves, and without a source of sustainable food, fresh water or energy production for its burgeoning class-based society.

Now the financial bubble has burst and Dubai World, the emirate's largest state-owned conglomerate, has requested a "standstill" of subsidiary real estate company Nakheel's bondholders. The crisis in Dubai has gone beyond debt and become one surrounding the credibility of its leadership. Dubai World’s failure to honor its obligations has shaken faith among the international investment community in the emirate’s normally ebullient promotion of over-the-top, land-development practices. Dubai’s oil-rich banker brother, Abu Dhabi, is now in a position to require a price for restoring faith that is likely to be much more than just prudent borrowing and greater transparency. It is likely to be a demand for a restructuring at the top and a return to more sustainable principles.

Less than 100 miles away from the broken dream of Dubai World, a new city based on a very different dream is rising in Abu Dhabi. Being built from the ground up with sustainable living in mind, Masdar City “…will bring together the best-of-breed clean technologies: building-integrated solar photovoltaics and solar glass, solar hot water systems, smart grid technology, electric transportation, power storage, sustainable agriculture and vertical farming, water recycling and desalination, low-energy HVAC, green building materials, waste-to-energy systems... essentially everything but wind energy.”

Hopefully, under Abu Dhabi’s new guiding influence, Dubai will adopt a more sustainable development model that pursues a better balanced, triple-bottom-line return for the long-term benefit of all stakeholders. Earlier in this year of unprecedented crisis and opportunity, SLDI offered to newly-elected US President Barack Obama, and now respectfully submits to the UAE – the World’s 1st Sustainable Land Development Best Practices System that balances and integrates the needs of people, planet and profit into a holistic model that helps land development projects achieve greater success in each area.

Your participation and comments are welcome.

Terry Mock
Executive Director
Sustainable Land Development International

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    • Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council and Environment Agency Abu Dhabi unveil Coastal Development Guidelines
      (December 9, 2009) The newly introduced guidelines provide direction for development in the major coastal basins extending from the Al Dhabiya island to the boundary with Dubai Emirate - which are referred to as the Bul Syaeef, Inner Islands, Ras Gharab and Ras Ghanadah basins.

    • Municipalities Building Green
      (November 2009) Just as local politics tend to have their own personality, sustainability and green building initiatives must as well. The economic, social and environmental issues in each city are unique to that locale, and sustainable initiatives must match those local priorities to be successful.
      Source: Sustainable Land Development Today


    • Denver council OKs longer schedule for zoning-code launch
      (December 9, 2009) The Denver City Council has unanimously approved another extension of the schedule for finishing and launching the city's first new zoning code in more than 50 years.
      Source: Denver Business Journal, Colorado
    • Rocky Road to Real Estate Riches
      (December 9, 2009) As conditions in India's property market have improved in recent months, several real estate companies have lined up to tap your pocketbook. If you're looking to participate, remember that these stocks are not necessarily cheap, and more importantly, they can be very volatile.
      Source: Wall Street Journal - India
    • FHA's Condo Financing Rules Already Scuttling Projects
      (December 7, 2009) New lending rules for condominium buyers are already forcing some developers to change or scrap plans for new projects for fear too many buyers will be shut out.
      Source: Los Angeles Times
    • St. Louis Banks’ Bad Loans Top $1 Billion
      (December 6, 2009) Parkside’s Wagner said the Federal Reserve numbers show the banks with the lowest percentage of commercial real estate loans in their portfolios also had the fewest soured loans. Ditto for banks with fewer land development and construction loans.
      Source: St. Louis Business Journal
    • Destroyed U.S. Town a Model of Eco-Living as It Rebuilds
      (December 5, 2009) With all eyes on US efforts to combat climate change at next week's UN summit in Copenhagen, one Kansas town is going green in a big way - and setting an example for American communities.
      Source: Agence France-Presse
    • Windmills Near BIA Help Aerate Water for Stream
      (December 5, 2009) Three windmills recently installed at Bangor International Airport are the latest in a series of steps the city has taken to improve the water quality of Birch Stream.
      Source: Bangor Daily News, Maine
    • Work Starts on $81 Million Bridge as Part of Florida Everglades Restoration
      (December 5, 2009) A contentious Everglades restoration project that a judge once called an “environmental bridge to nowhere” kicked off Friday, two decades after Congress authorized it.
      Souce: Marco Eagle, Florida
    • First Salmon Try Out New Fish Tower on Deschutes River
      (December 4, 2009) It's been four decades since salmon were able to complete their circuitous life journey to and from central Oregon's upper Deschutes River basin.
      Source: Portland Oregonian, Oregon
    • Oak Woodlands Conservation Management Plan Takes Root
      (December 4, 2009) For the first time since 1980, Los Angeles County is revising its general development plan to not only save but increase areas of oak woodlands, which have been shown to help curb air pollution and sequester carbon dioxide.
      Source: Topango Messenger, California
    • Rain Gardens Make Green Building Projects Greener
      (December 2, 2009) In building an affordable green community of 53 houses on what had been 4.3 vacant acres, Habitat is installing rain gardens, instead of using more traditional methods of managing storm water.
      Source: Washington Post
    • Forest Carbon Scheme Hopes for Green Light
      ((December 1, 2009)) While nations bicker over the size of emissions cuts and climate funds, saving forests has turned out to be among the least contentious issues in U.N. climate talks and has achieved the most progress.
      Source: Reuters
    • 1895 Pennsylvania Steel Town Seeks Green Rebirth
      (December 1, 2009) 114 years later, Vandergrift residents--from baby boomers who grew up during the town's heyday to students as young as their grandchildren--are reviving Olmsted's vision and making the community environmentally sustainable for the 21st century and beyond.
      Source: Associated Press
    • Maryland Governor Praises Plan for 'Green City'
      (December 1, 2009) The project would revitalize St. Charles, a planned community of 12,000 homes and 5 million square feet of commercial and retail space, doubling its size while reducing its carbon footprint through green design and practices.
      Source: Washington Post
    • New School to Keep Environment in Mind
      (November 29, 2009) Pacific Ridge, a private college-preparatory school in Carlsbad, is aiming to build one of the most energy-efficient and environmentally friendly campuses in the country.
      Source: San Diego Union-Tribune, California
    • First Zero-Energy Neighborhood Takes Root in Boulder
      (November 28, 2009) Local developer Ron Monahan stood outside the first of 12 homes he and his business partner plan to build in a new north Boulder subdivision and talked about his vision: "We're bringing this to the masses."
      Source: Boulder Daily Camera, Colorado
    • SLDI Best Practices System Being Put to Test
      (November 2009) SLDI has selected the following projects, which are designed to represent a broad spectrum of project types, scales and geographic regions to fully test the system through various project scenarios.
      Source: Sustainable Land Development Today

    Editor's Note: SLDI News Service may feature press releases submitted directly by organizations in SLDI's network. This content is not specifically endorsed or supported by SLDI and is not subject to SLDI's editorial process.


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