Urban form compaction and energy use intensity in new social housing neighborhoods in the UAE

Khaled Galal Ahmed, S. M.Hossein Alipour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


With increasing global awareness of sustainable development, federal and local authorities in the UAE have developed agendas for energy efficiency in all development sectors, especially for buildings and urban development. With the belief that urban form is integral to urban sustainability, several recently developed single-family social housing neighborhoods in the UAE have shifted from conventional sprawling urban forms to more compact ones. Unfortunately, the impact of this shift on operational and cooling energy use intensities (EUIs) is unknown. Adopting a comparative computational method, this study investigates the effect of compact urban morphologies on EUIs. In addition to a case study representing conventional urban sprawls, six recently designed housing neighborhoods in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Al Ain were selected to represent new compact urban forms. This study uncovered an inconsistent relationship between floor area ratio (FAR) and average housing operational and cooling EUIs. To justify these results, the effects of increased lot coverage area, street grid patterns, building configurations, and climate zone on operational and cooling EUIs were studied, and all except climate zone were proven effective. This study concludes that the current design philosophy of compacting the urban form has not successfully met the Emirates Green Building Council's (GBC) sustainable operational EUI benchmark of 90 kWh/m2/y. While further urban compactness (i.e., increased FARs) is needed, the other urban morphological measures examined in this study should be considered for achieving a more sustainable urban form for social housing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3815
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Compact
  • Energy efficiency
  • Energy use Intensity
  • Neighborhood
  • Social housing
  • UAE
  • Urban form

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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