| Masdar Plans World's First Green City|
October 19, 2007
Dubai, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, sultans and
shieks - these are foreign terms to us Westerners, but ones we
no doubt will become familiar with. If you saw the television
program 60 Minutes recently, you may have been awe-struck by
the development occurring in Dubai, one of seven states
(called Emerates) that comprise the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Dubai is building as fast as it can & sans environmental
regulations. Dubbed the "richest city in the world," it has
$300 billion in development projects underway, including a
skyscraper twice the height of NYC's Empire State Building.
Next door, another UAE state, Abu Dhabi, is following in its
footsteps, but is taking a more sustainable approach. Its
fascinating Madscar initiative is an attempt to create the
world's first sustainable city - Arab-style.
In April 2006, Abu Dhabi decided to create Masdar - which
means - the Source - in Arabic, a walled city covering 640
hectares. Promoters say it "will be living testimony to the
possibility of sustainable cities." The Abu Dhabi Future
Energy Company, the company executing the Masdar initiative,
calls it the "creation of a historic global shift to new
energy sources and sustainable resource utilization."
In contrast to neighboring Dubai, which is building an
energy-consumptive city of glass, steel and concrete towers,
Masdar is being designed to run entirely on renewable energy.
World renown architect Lord Foster is designing Masdar so that
its 50,000 residents will live on streets modeled on
traditional souks and medinas - but draped with shades of
fabric that convert sunlight into electricity. Canals will
run alongside the streets, some of which will be only 10 feet
wide to protect pedestrians from the heat, which averages over
40C in the shade during the summer. There will be fields of
solar concentrating mirrors in the desert and wind turbines
will catch breezes from the Gulf.
Palm and mangrove plantations will create a green belt around
the city to provide raw material for bio-fuels, a new industry
that, say developers, may one day supplement oil and gas
revenues. The tiny emirate is the fifth largest exporter of
oil in the world, but it is envisaged that Masdar City will
not need a drop. "We want to position ourselves as thinkers
and progressives," says Sultan Al Jaber, the chief executive
of Masdar. "Years ago in the Middle East we lived in a very
sustainable environment. We are bringing that back by creating
a compact city where people don't need to use a car."
Adjacent to Abu Dhabi International Airport, the goal is to
create a city based on sustainable employment, eventually
facilitating a population of 100,000. The first stage of
development will set the tone for the entire project; the
construction of a state-of-the-art photovoltaic power plant
that will deliver the energy required to build the entire city!
The compact, high-density city will be completely free of cars
and their emissions; a world model of energy conservation with
zero carbon emissions and zero waste. Compared to average
urban levels, fossil fuel consumption will be reduced by 75%,
water demand by 300% and waste production by 400%. Cycling and
walking will be the most common means of travel.
Accoring to the city's master plan, no one will be more than
200 meters from essential facilities, including shops selling
locally grown produce. A fully automated, electric Personal
Rapid Transit System will provide a flexible and comfortable
alternative to private cars. A Light Railway Transport system
will link the Masdar development to adjacent developments, the
airport and in the future with the center of Abu Dhabi.
Futuristically, developers plan to integrate real time
monitoring of energy use and carbon emissions in public
spaces. Digital management and intelligent systems with
sensors and data mining will provide information to support
the decisions of individuals and service providers.
Through a micro-chip-like network of connections, developers
plan to coalesce the expertise and resources to enable global
technological breakthroughs in advanced energy technologies.
There will be a university education and research center - the
Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (in partnership
with MIT) - which will offer Masters and PhD programs in
science and engineering disciplines focused on advanced energy
and sustainability. Its research and educational institutions
and partnerships will search for solutions to mankind's most
pressing problems: energy security, climate change and truly
sustainable human development.
Special economic zones will attract business and commercial
partners focused on the advanced energy systems and
technologies from around the world, from start-ups to major