Masdar City

Masdar City is an emerging global clean-technology cluster
and special economic zone located in what aims to be one of the world’s most
sustainable urban development’s powered by renewable energy.
It is a city where current and future technologies will be funded, researched,
developed, tested and commercialised. Leading multinational companies in the
cleantech sector, as well as small- and medium sized enterprises and
entrepreneurial start-ups will locate sales and marketing offices, demonstration
centres, research and development labs and headquarters in the city. The city is
anchored by the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology – a graduate-level,
research-driven institution that is collaborating with the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology (MIT) to develop and offer courses focused on education
and research in advanced energy solution, sustainable technologies and policy.

A great place in which to live, Masdar City will be home to residents and
commuters who will live the technological innovations being developed in the
city’s labs, research centres and demonstration showcases. A test bed for new
approaches to the planning, design, engineering, construction and operational
challenges involved in creating environmentally sustainable cities, Masdar City
itself will be helping test and solve these problems, thereby making it easier
and cheaper to develop sustainable cities in the future. This US$22 billion free
zone located about 17km from downtown Abu Dhabi will eventually be home to
companies, researchers, and academics from across the globe, creating an
international hub for companies and organisations focused on renewable energy
and clean technologies.

It is an extraordinary endeavour that will attract the highest levels of
international expertise, academics, commerce and residents – creating an
unmatched commercial platform for sales, marketing and demonstration, as well as
an environment ripe for innovation. By bringing together such resources, Masdar
City will set a benchmark that will ultimately support sustainable development
throughout Abu Dhabi and the region, as well as provide a functioning blueprint
for sustainable living around the world.

Construction began in 2008, and just two years later, the first buildings are
scheduled to open in the third quarter of 2010. The city will be home to
international corporations and leading minds in the field of sustainability and
renewable energy. General Electric is a strategic partner in Masdar City and
will build its first Ecomagination Centre in the city. The centre will focus on
promoting sustainable business solutions that will support the development and
deployment of new and innovative technologies. The overarching Masdar-General
Electric agreement focuses on sustainable business solutions and forming a
broader R&D relationship that will support the development and deployment of new
and innovative technologies and the overarching function of the city as a
cleantech cluster.

In addition, Schneider Electric will build an innovation centre at Masdar City
that will incorporate both an R&D facility and a technical centre of excellence.
Bayer MaterialScience will implement with Masdar City an EcoCommercial building
programme through the proposed construction of an EcoCommercial Building
prototype in the city

Businesses are able to take advantage of a home grown research and development
centre, the Masdar Institute, the first graduate-level academic institution
dedicated to the research of alternative energy, environmental technologies and
sustainability. While clean technology is the driving force behind the cluster,
Masdar City caters to a range of technology companies contributing to the field.
The city provides its commercial population with a unique business environment
that fosters innovation and provides a convenient gateway to enter the growing
Gulf market, wider Middle East and nearby Asia.

Masdar City, designed by renowned planning and architecture firm Foster +
Partners, will be built on six square kilometres near to Abu Dhabi International
Airport and not far from Saadiyat and Yas islands.


Inspired by the architecture and urban planning of traditional Arab cities,
Masdar City incorporates narrow streets; the shading of windows, exterior walls
and walkways; thick-walled buildings; courtyards and wind towers; vegetation and
a generally walkable city.

The design provides the highest quality living and working environment with the
lowest possible carbon footprint and includes a northeast-southwest orientation
of the city. This makes best use of the cooling night breezes and lessens the
effect of hot daytime winds. There will be green parks separating built-up
areas, not only to capture and direct cool breezes into the heart of the city
but also to reduce solar gain and provide cool pleasant oases throughout the
city. The intelligent design of residential and commercial spaces will reduce
demand for artificial lighting and air conditioning. As well, all buildings will
surpass the highest sustainable building standards currently set by
internationally recognised organisations

Carefully planned landscape and water features will aid in reducing ambient
temperatures, while enhancing the quality of the street; the elimination of cars
and trucks at street level not only makes the air cleaner for pedestrians but
also allows buildings to be closer together, providing more shade but allowing
maximum natural light. The placement of residential, recreational, civic,
leisure, retail, commercial and light industrial areas across the master plan,
along with the public transportation networks, ensures that the city is
pedestrian friendly and a pleasant and convenient place in which to live and

In light of these design elements and many others, Masdar City has received
several awards, including the first World Clean Energy Award in 2007 from the
Transatlantic21 Association in Basel, Switzerland. Also that year, the city’s
design was voted “Sustainable Region / City of the Year” at Euromoney and Ernst
& Young’s Global Renewable Energy Awards.


Once fully built, Renewable Energy will be a power source in Masdar City, and
solar power will meet the vast portion of the renewable energy mix, where the
city’s power needs are estimated at 230MW. This is a substantially lower energy
requirement than that of comparable conventional cities in the region. A great
deal of electricity can be generated from solar sources, including photovoltaic
(PV) and concentrated solar power, reducing the city’s power demand that will
help achieve the city’s sustainability goals..

The city will minimise energy demand by deploying the most energy-efficient
techniques available. This includes setting building codes that far exceed those
of any existing rating system, installing smart appliances and utility networks
that interact to reduce appliance demand during peak consumption periods, and
using passive architecture features that increase shade and reduce solar gain,
and cutting edge cooling technologies.

In addition to solar energy, Masdar City is exploring the viability of
geothermal, waste-to-energy and solar cooling technologies that use the power of
the sun to run air-conditioning units.

A 10MW solar photovoltaic plant is already operational within Masdar City, the
largest such solar plant in the Middle East. It powers the temporary Masdar site
administration buildings and many ongoing construction activities at Masdar
City, including construction cranes and all the Masdar office buildings. Built
across 22 hectares by Abu Dhabi-based Enviromena, the plant

was connected to the Abu Dhabi power grid in April 2010 and is supplied by 50
percent thin film photovoltaic modules and 50 percent polycrystalline
photovoltaic modules.


Once fully built, Masdar City’s water needs will be less than half that of
conventional cities in the region. It will require around 12,500 m3 per day of
desalinated potable water. To achieve this the city will use a broad array of
water use reduction technologies, including high efficiency appliances, water
tariff that promotes water efficiency, smart water meters that inform consumers
of their consumption, treated wastewater recycling, and high efficiency
irrigation and low water use landscaping.


Masdar City will also severely diminish the landfill area needed by developing
systems and encouraging lifestyles that will dramatically reduce waste. It will
provide an environment that enables a low-waste lifestyle through the reduction,
reuse, recycling and recovery of waste materials. A vacuum waste collection
system will allow residents to easily separate their waste, facilitating a high
recycling rate. Most waste that cannot be recycled will be treated in a thermal
treatment plant, from which energy will be generated.


Masdar City will be the first modern city to operate without fossil fuelled
automobiles and trucks at a street level. The design of the city will allow
individuals to live and work without the need for a personal vehicle.

As a pilot in the Masdar Institute neighbourhood, Masdar City is deploying the
revolutionary Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) and the Freight Rapid Transit (FRT)
systems that, together with pedestrian and other public transit methods, will
safely move people and goods across the city. PRT vehicles are similar to
unmanned taxicabs, in size and comfort, guided by a central computer that
controls the movement of all PRT and FRT vehicles. The goal is that people
within Masdar City will not have to walk more than 250m to get reach some form
of public transport.

Masdar City Partnership with One Planet Living

Masdar City is an “emerging project” within the One Planet Living programme – a
global initiative developed by WWF (also known as the World Wide Fund for Nature
and the World Wildlife Fund) and BioRegional – that aims to show that it is
possible to live within ecological limits and still improve the quality of
people’s lives. To guide these efforts, One Planet Living has created 10
principles to which sustainable communities should adhere. BioRegional helped
develop Masdar City’s Sustainability Action Plan in order for the city to be
endorsed as a One Planet Living community.

The Masdar Institute of Science of Technology

The first building to be operational at Masdar City will be that of the Masdar
Institute of Science and Technology, whose students will be the first residents
of the city. Focused on the science and engineering of advanced alternative
energy, environmental technologies and sustainability, Masdar Institute will be
at the heart of the homegrown research and development community at Masdar City
and will eventually host up to 600-800 Master’s and PhD students and more than
100-150 faculty.

Foster + Partners, which developed the city’s master plan, has designed the
Masdar Institute building, a complex structure that encompasses labs, student
residences, classrooms and offices. It is designed to use 70 percent less
electricity and drinking water than conventional buildings of its size and is
wired throughout with an energy metering system that monitors energy consumption
and produces data that will be easily accessible to students and faculty for use
as a research tool. The building will be a test bed for sustainable technologies
that will be studied and refined for implementation in future city buildings.


The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) – an intergovernmental
organisation dedicated to promoting the widespread adoption and sustainable use
of all forms of renewable energy

- will locate its headquarters at Masdar City, bringing to the city the latest
in renewable energy policymaking, global best practices and state-ofthe-art
technological expertise. This is the first time an international organisation of
such size has selected a Middle East city for its secretariat. IRENA was founded
in January 2010 and has 143 signatory countries from both the developing and
developed world. IRENA aims at becoming the main driving force in promoting a
rapid transition towards the widespread and sustainable use of renewable energy
on a global scale. Acting as the global voice for renewable energies, IRENA will
provide practical advice and support for both industrialised and developing
countries, help them improve their regulatory frameworks and build capacity. The
agency will facilitate access to all relevant information including reliable
data on the potential of renewable energy, best practices.

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