Abu Dhabi’s ‘green’ city.

BBC article.

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.

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11 Responses to Abu Dhabi’s ‘green’ city.

  1. earthpal says:

    It looks fantastic!

    How ironic when they’re sitting on all that oil. They built their wealth on oil and gas. Now they’ll have huge amounts of carbon credits to sell.

    Anyway, it’s about time they started utilising all that sunshine positively.

  2. matt says:

    The Middle East seem to be waking up to that sunshine thing. Still they’ve been utilizing solar on individual homes for years.

    Seeing another photo on the web of this new town from the air it looks like they’re simply taking a square of desert and building this town. I wonder how nice it would be to live in. Trees/gardens? Would it feel like Milton Keynes!?

    But yes they’re making the move at least to try an eco-town approach.

  3. Do people who burn waste deserve carbon credits?
    There is a better way to dispose of waste – see http://www.evrs.co.uk, & http://www.zystur.com

  4. suburbanlife says:

    I have a problem in thinking around sustainable food in this community. The image you posted shows people in an urban setting strolling and relaxing at outdoor cafes. Do these people provide their own food locally? or is food (fair trade or not, organic or not) shipped in from far-away places? This is an ideal of a place where people who consume, but not necessarily provide directly for their own consumption, live. That by itself is not sustainable, no matter how much creative and inventive use of technology is used to produce such a utopia. G

  5. matt says:

    Martin, I ended up at http://www.sterecycle.com/index.htm via your website. Good to see this technology in the UK. I’ve read about it recently via a company in California.

    Cleaning & separating waste and moving it back into the production line and product application is the only way to go …. apart from reducing waste created in the first place.

    I agree, the funding of this Masdar City is questionable and not at all obvious. I wonder if Mr Rogers had a hand in arranging some sort of carbon credit financing. The UAE prince has so much money from oil that he can simply play at creating his own modern Babylon.

  6. matt says:

    Hi suburbanlife

    Yes a agree there are major questions here and Mr Rogers appears to be ticking more of a UK client’s green agenda than that of a UAE client. Maybe the prince wants to impress London & New York’s new urban green elite. There’s a lot money & influence building up around these people. Maybe this development isn’t aimed at housing locals in the UAE but these international green conscious urban elites. A sort of timeshare city for international ‘green’ travellers. An oxymoron if I ever heard one.

  7. GERALD says:

    Is 100% recycling of waste just an unattainable dream? It probably almost was but no more. Check out http://www.evrs.co.uk & http://www.zystur.com.
    EVRS “Zero Bury Zero Burn” process is currently the only waste process in the world capable of 100% remediation of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) into recovered and new materials. No holes filling up. No landfill tax. No water table pollution. No toxins in the air we breathe. Too good to be true?
    See also U.K. government Defra “Waste New Technologies Catalogue – 2007 update” issued by Defra, and published by the independent compilers at page 82 in the PDF file (page 78 on the printed page) at:

  8. matt says:

    Thanks Gerald. Your colleague Martin has already pointed us in this direction further up the comment thread. 🙂

    Question (if you do pop back); is the finished product a mix of plastic and wood chip? I have seen such a product utilized already as it happens. Cutting edge stuff I was told back then (4 years ago). It’s a good product. If used as decking it is non-slip which is a bonus.

  9. Ashish Jose Chalakkel says:

    This is the most fascinating thing I have ever seen. I believe that its going to change the way of life in the next few decades & will the the first & the best kind of project & city that the world will look upto. I would be more than interested to be a part of this change, as I work of the world’s leading MNC consulting company. Please contact me on +91-9986206004. All the best for this new venture.

  10. mer says:

    The future plan of the government for this country is so fascinating, so good and great! As an expatriate I really admired how this place evolves from desert to a beautiful greenery. I really admired how the late king Nahyan shown his good example to his followers, the love to his countrymen, most to the whole world as a good leader. We are so greatful that we are a part of it, enjoying its progress.
    For the Masdar city plan I am very sure there’s no doubt the future plan will be materialized. Considering they have the resources.I’m praying I can find a job to any government sector here,.good luck to your plan.

  11. Sarah says:

    I read an article about this in the New York Times today. My eyes were nearly tearing up by the time I was through. One thing I noticed here but not in the New York Times article is how they plan to reduce the impact cities are having on our water supply. What sort of systems do they plan to implement?

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