Energy & Mining

The Green Economy & Sustainability

Environment

Abu Dhabi is working hard to promote energy and water conservation, reduce waste, and better understand the capacity of its coastal environments to absorb carbon.

In order to raise awareness of the value of both water and power in the minds of the public and encourage conservation, The Environment Agency — Abu Dhabi (EAD) has worked tirelessly to change public attitudes and behavior patterns when it comes to utilities consumption. This is in addition to its waste management program, which aims to create a constructive framework to encourage recycling, move the Emirate away from landfill solutions, and incentivize waste reduction.

WATER & POWER WISE

Tackling the issue of resource conservation, the Emirate of Abu Dhabi’s utilities regulator, the Regulation and Supervision Bureau (RSB), has introduced the Waterwise and Powerwise initiatives—efforts which have been commended by the World Energy Council. RSB bills now clearly indicate the cost of the subsidy, to highlight that while cheap, water and electricity still come at a cost. A system of color coding breaks the bills down to demonstrate where an individual home’s consumption pattern fits when looking at both water and power consumption.

Building on this public awareness campaign, trial monitoring systems have been installed in selected Abu Dhabi homes to deliver the message directly to families. Indicators with green, amber, and red have been tested that allow residents to see just how efficient their utilities usage is. When the indicator turns amber, the residents know to reduce power use by turning off unused appliances or lights in empty rooms. These indicators also demonstrate key data corresponding to their utility use including CO2 emissions, daily consumption rates, and money saved.

The RSB has also developed illustrative games for children to play at public events such as the Abu Dhabi Science Festival and the International Water Summit. Through motion-activated technology, these raise awareness of efficient energy and water use. For commercial enterprises, an energy purchasing trial has been introduced to offer discounts of up to 25% for off-peak billing. Industrial enterprises can save significantly by timing energy intense operations outside of peak use times.

BLUE CARBON

While reducing Abu Dhabi’s water waste and carbon footprint, the EAD’s Blue Carbon Project works to understand the role of coastal vegetation eco-systems, such as mangroves, salt marshes, and sea grass meadows in carbon capture and storage. By evaluating just how significant these green areas are for Abu Dhabi’s environment, the initiative is able to encourage sustainable land management practices and demonstrate the value of these areas to the public. It is not widely known that Abu Dhabi City’s famous mangroves were in fact planted some 40 years ago under the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and have since become valuable assets for the Emirate in terms of preventing soil erosion, growing fish stocks, boosting tourism, promoting maritime traditions, and providing carbon capture. Through Blue Carbon, financial incentives funded through carbon offsets have been introduced to encourage the preservation of these coastal environments as their value becomes better understood. The results of this project could have far-reaching consequences not just for Abu Dhabi, but also for other countries in the region with similar ecosystems. Data acquired, as well as the experience of the program, could be adapted to other coastal areas in the Arabian Peninsula to encourage preservation of these important environments.