Abu Dhabi has started to build what it says is the world’s first zero-carbon, zero-waste car-free city.
Masdar City will cost $22bn (£11.3bn), take eight years to build and be home to 50,000 people and 1,500 businesses. The city will be mostly powered by solar energy and residents will move in travel pods running on magnetic tracks.
The city will make use of traditional Gulf architecture to create low-energy buildings, with natural air conditioning from wind towers. Water will be provided through a solar-powered desalination plant, Masdar says. The city will need a quarter of the power required for a similar sized community, while its water needs will be 60% lower.
In January, the government of Abu Dhabi announced a $15bn five-year initiative to develop clean energy technologies, calling it “the most ambitious sustainability project ever launched by a government”.
The city forms part of an ambitious plan to develop clean energy technologies. The money is being channelled through the Masdar Initiative, a company established to develop and commercialise clean energy technologies, and Abu Dhabi hopes it will lead to international joint ventures involving much more money.
“We are creating an array of financial vehicles to finance the $22bn development,” Masdar chief executive officer Sultan al-Jaber told Reuters news agency.
“We will monetise all carbon emission reductions… Such innovative financing has never been applied to the scale of an entire city.”
Aims of Masdar City
One Planet Living principle Masdar Target
ZERO CARBON: 100 per cent of energy supplied by renewable energy – Photovoltaics, concentrated solar power, wind, waste to energy and other technologies
ZERO WASTE: 99 per cent diversion of waste from landfill (includes waste reduction measures, re-use of waste wherever possible, recycling, composting, waste to energy)
SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORT: Zero carbon emissions from transport within the city; implementation of measures to reduce the carbon cost of journeys to the city boundaries (through facilitating and encouraging the use of public transport, vehicle sharing, supporting low emissions vehicle initiatives)
SUSTAINABLE MATERIALS: Specifying high recycled materials content within building products; tracking and encouraging the reduction of embodied energy within materials and throughout the construction process; specifying the use of sustainable materials such as Forest Stewardship Council certified timber, bamboo and other products
SUSTAINABLE FOOD: Retail outlets to meet targets for supplying organic food and sustainable and or fair trade products
SUSTAINABLE WATER: Per capita water consumption to be at least 50 per cent less than the national average; all waste water to be re-used
HABITATS AND WILDLIFE: All valuable species to be conserved or relocated with positive mitigation targets
CULTURE AND HERITAGE: Architecture to integrate local values.
EQUITY AND FAIR TRADE: Fair wages and working conditions for all workers (including construction) as defined by international labour standards
HEALTH AND HAPPINESS: Facilities and events for every demographic group
Foster & Partners are central to the design of the 6 square km city and are in a race to complete it before a competing ‘zero carbon city’ planned for another area of UAE.