Masdar City is being hailed as a best-in-class example of an eco city of the future and a hub for cleantech companies.
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Located in Abu Dhabi, the city was built by Masdar, a UAE-government-owned renewable energy company. The initial plan was for the city to act as a “greenprint” for sustainable living, becoming home to one of the Middle East’s largest clusters of high performance buildings.
ThisWeekinFM spoke to Chris Wan, Masdar City’s Associate Director of Sustainability and CSR to ask about what makes Masdar City different from other eco cities.
"Masdar City is already a blueprint for future cities. We’ve been pioneering sustainable urban development since 2008—long before sustainability was on trend."
Associate Director of Sustainability and CSR, Masdar City
Could You Tell Us About Masdar City’s Energy Strategy and How it Differs From Other Cities?
Masdar City uses design to minimise energy consumption as much as possible. For example, building envelopes are airtight and well-insulated, and windows are placed and angled strategically to minimise direct sun while maximising natural light. On average, our buildings use 40 per cent less energy and water than conventional equivalent buildings.
For the remaining energy requirements, we use as much clean and renewable energy as possible within the business case. While we’re still connected to the grid, we have a 10 MW solar farm on the outskirts of the city, and another 1 MW of solar panels on rooftops throughout the city to generate solar power. The number of solar panels will increase in the next few years as we have three net-zero energy projects in progress, with more in the works.
Another way Masdar City conserves energy is through operations and maintenance. Design and construction can be extremely sustainable, but how a building’s occupants use that building has a significant impact on energy use. We’re prioritising green building use through education and sustainability programs. We’re also rolling out plaques in the lobbies of our buildings that will show energy use water use as well as waste management data in real time. Recently, we received LEED Gold ratings for operations and maintenance on three of our older buildings.
Picture: a photograph of Chris Wan. Image Credit: Masdar City
How Will Masdar City Support Community Living and Hybrid Working Patterns?
Social sustainability is one of our major sustainability pillars – we’re building developments for tomorrow’s workforce, which means they’re sustainable, technology-forward, and flexible. The Link, a new mixed-use development under construction, will feature a net-zero energy building called Co-Lab that will be a shared working and living space, meaning that entrepreneurs, small-business owners, and other professionals on the move will have the option of working and living flexibly within the same building.
How Will Masdar City Provide a Blueprint For Future Eco-Cities?
Masdar City is already a blueprint for future cities. We’ve been pioneering sustainable urban development since 2008—long before sustainability was on trend. We’ve used sustainable urban design principles to make outdoor temperatures as comfortable as possible to encourage walking and other sustainable transportation methods. Our buildings use 40 per cent less water and energy than conventional buildings. We make extensive use of solar power, and we have three net-zero energy buildings in the works.
Other cities and developments have been learning from us for years—we regularly host heads of state and other professionals at Masdar City, and we share our expertise at events around the world.
The other sustainable developments in progress are a sign that we’re meeting our goal of becoming the world’s reference point for sustainable urban development.
How Much of a Role Does Smart Technology Play in the City's Infrastructure?
We use smart technology throughout the city to maximise sustainability. Our buildings use smart systems to monitor energy usage, and we’re in the process of rolling out digital plaques in our building lobbies that report on energy and water use and waste management in real-time.
We also use a lot of smart technology in transportation. We’ve pioneered two generations of electric, autonomous, shared vehicles in the last decade at Masdar City, and they’ve carried over 2.5 million passengers. The next generation of autonomous transportation is in the works.
Picture: a photograph of one of the buildings in Masdar City. Image Credit: Masdar City
Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 28 June 2023
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