Sustainability has always been a key focus of United Development Company’s (UDC) development vision.
As a leading Qatari public shareholding company and master developer of leading developments, The Pearl and Gewan Islands, UDC aims to fulfil the objectives of the Qatar National Vision 2030 related to limiting the factors leading to climate change, by aligning its strategic goals with international standards and planning future activities to leave a good environmental footprint.
To this end and throughout 2022, UDC has had outstanding environmental achievements including, but not limited to, achieving international accreditation certificates that have culminated in several prestigious awards that reflect UDC’s longstanding and deep commitment to adopting the latest sustainable and environmentally friendly practices to ensure the health of the ecosystem and the well-being of the community residing in The Pearl Island.
The latest global recognition of UDC’s efforts was in December during the SEAL Awards 2022, where UDC’s initiatives on The Pearl Island won the Business Sustainability Award 2022, which falls under the category of ‘Pioneering and Innovative Environmental Initiatives’ that adhere to the best sustainable environmentally friendly practices.
Once again, UDC succeeded in being the first in the State of Qatar to win this global recognition via the SEAL Awards, which honours every year more than 50 international companies that are the most effective and influential in their environmentally-friendly practices through establishing a comprehensive methodology and standards, a fixed digital process that reflects the true impact of planet-friendly practices in general whose impact will extend for decades to come.
The criteria for UDC achieving this global award included: UDC has reduced carbon emissions in its activities and projects within The Pearl Island; the company has developed a strategy to reduce carbon emissions for five years; encouragement of a circular economy based on reducing waste and use of recycled building materials; saving 2.71mn gallons of fresh water, by reducing waste and encouraging rational water use; reducing waste while recycling over 34% of it; enhancing work efficiency and reducing time to completion (supply chain process improvement); changing the mechanism of completing work to serve environmental sustainability; business cycle assessment and bringing about changes that promote sustainability and long-term beneficial actions; and practising recycling and reuse.
In November, a few weeks before the SEAL Awards, UDC won two prestigious international awards from one of the UK's most prominent environmental organisations, Green Apple Environment, during its annual global environmental event at the headquarters of the British House of Commons, where certificates were distributed in recognition of the efforts of organisations, associations, and companies in applying and adopting environmentally friendly behaviours.
During this ceremony, UDC was recognised as the best development company to reduce carbon emissions during the development of its projects and was also awarded as the best waste management company for using the latest environmentally friendly methods, making UDC the ambassador for the best environmental practices in the Middle East.
UDC was announced as the winner by a jury of international experts specialised in sustainable development and The Pearl Island development in Qatar topped the list as the best project committed to sustainable environmental development in the Middle East, where the committee evaluated all UDC's achievements and its development initiatives to promote an environmentally friendly recycling culture.
UDC competed with a wide range of real estate developers for sustainable development from around the world for the Green Apple Award. It became the first Qatari company and major developer in the private sector to win it, noting that the Public Works Authority in Qatar, a government entity, had previously received the award in recognition of its overall sustainable real estate development work.
This year, UDC was also awarded the ISO 14001 certification for environmental management from the British Standards Institution (BSI) for its long-term environmental goals adopted and the tremendous steps it has adopted in recycling waste, streamlining energy and water demand, and other environmental initiatives.
This certification is a recognition of UDC’s compliance with international standards in environmental management and waste reduction and is a demonstration of the environmental responsibility that UDC aspires to and is obtained only through a comprehensive evaluation mechanism conducted by BSI that includes a detailed inspection of the current quality management system before issuing the final formal assessment and determining UDC’s eligibility for the certificate.
Last August, UDC Tower, the company's headquarters, received GSAS Gold Operations certification, becoming the first building on The Pearl Island to receive the highest regional sustainability rating from the Gulf Organisation for Research and Development (Gord) for implementing sustainability best practices. UDC Tower is the first GSAS-certified project to achieve full indoor air quality compliance, giving it the qualification of a healthy building.
UDC Tower is located in the Abraj Quartier precinct of The Pearl Island, which consists of seven towers and covers a built-up area of 114,740sq m. The project has been awarded the GSAS Gold rating for sustainable operation following audits by GSAS Trust’s sustainability experts, meaning it complies with GSAS’ stringent standards to reduce carbon emissions from the building's operations.
UDC Tower has adopted district cooling technology that is known for significant energy savings compared to conventional cooling methods.
In a pioneering initiative this year, UDC has released its ESG report to the Qatar Stock Exchange, making it the first listed real estate company in Qatar to officially disclose its strategies and achievements in the areas of environment and sustainability.
In addition to enhancing transparency in the real estate sector, the report highlighted the main themes related to the environment and sustainability in UDC’s strategy, which cover waste management and recycling through the use of the smart waste disposal system ‘ENVAC’ and other recycling measures, in addition to environmentally-friendly packaging processes that prevent the use of non-biodegradable plastic bags, as well as the application of energy optimisation measures in all existing company projects, using environmentally friendly technologies, such as district cooling system provided by Qatar Cool, a subsidiary of UDC.
As part of its commitment to Qatar's National Climate Change Action Plan, UDC seeks to reduce its environmental footprint and carbon emissions associated with its buildings and facilities by reducing direct and indirect energy consumption in all its offices and projects and replacing it with renewable energy and equipment that ensures energy efficiency, such as energy-efficient and motion-activated lighting, in addition to rationalising water use, as well as ensuring that the largest amount of water is recycled for irrigation and other purposes with the installation of roof systems to collect rainwater and make use of it.
UDC aims to be at the forefront of modern mobility in Qatar by converting 50% of its transport from petrol to electric vehicles, promoting alternative modes of transportation such as using water taxis, electric scooters, and bicycles on dedicated routes, as well as providing more charging outlets for electric vehicles throughout The Pearl Island.
The Pearl Island ranked in the top five companies for its environmental marine initiatives by the North American Marine Environment Protection Association (NAMEPA) out of more than 50 leading institutions worldwide demonstrating a genuine leadership commitment toward marine protection.
NAMEPA is a prestigious organisation, which annually recognises companies, educators, associations, government agencies, academic institutions, and individuals whose efforts support the mission ‘Save Our Seas’.
UDC is the first non-governmental entity to develop and release a biodiversity map for The Pearl Island which highlights the marine species living in the waters surrounding the Island which are protected to thrive in a clean environment and healthy ecosystem.
Earlier this year, UDC celebrated the seventh edition of Qatar Sustainability Week 2022, which comes as part of a national campaign organised by Earthna Centre to encourage the community to adopt sustainable lifestyles and raise awareness of the effects of climate change.
UDC has organised a series of community events at The Pearl Island to raise environmental awareness, where the first community park was opened to educate the residents about the importance of biodiversity, sustainability, and increasing the proportion of green spaces in Qatar.
The celebrations also included UDC’s organisation of the ‘Stadium Building Competition’, which saw engineering students compete to design sustainable playgrounds built from recyclable and disposable plastics.
UDC receives the Green Apple Award for environmental practices on The Pearl Island.
UDC's ISO certificate for environmental management.