Masdar City In Abu Dhabi Could Be Practical Community Innovation, Or Expensive Showcase

masdar-city-interior-poolMasdar City, a unique and innovative commercial and residential project underway in Abu Dhabi, is being promoted as the first carbon free community in the world.

Begun in 2006, and conceived by the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, the entire project will eventually house some 50,000 people and 1.500 businesses supplying environmentally friendly products, the first phase of the 8 year project, the Masdar City Headquarters and the Institute for Science and Technology, was originally designated to be ready for habitation this fall.

The project has been hailed by its developers as one in which commercial and residential entities will blend with each other to create a totally harmonious environment, where all lighting and air conditioning systems will be powered by a 40 to 60 megawatt solar power plant, a 20 mega watt wind farm, as well as geo-thermal and hydrogen based power.

Additional photo voltaic solar panels will also be installed on the roofs of many buildings, which is expected to increase the megawatts from solar energy to as much as 130 megawatts.

Virtually everything used and consumed by Masdar City’s inhabitants, including water, food products, and other items will be recyclable as is possible, including wastes.

The project will be enclosed by walls to keep out the hot desert winds, and all walkways will be shaded and designed to take advantage of cooling breezes.

No cars will be allowed within the 6 sq km area of the complex (like the German city of Vauban), with workers and residents commuting to and from the project by carbon-free mass transportation.


The projected costs of the entire project, $22 billion, is much more than similar building projects using standard designs and energy plants. The costs are hoped to be made up by savings on energy costs, as well as by recycling of water and other resources.

The completion of Phase 1, the Masdar City Headquarters and Institute of Technology, has now been rescheduled for the 4th quarter of 2010, as the foundations for the Headquarters were only begun last month, with deadlines for completion of the 130,000 sq meter area (about 6% of the total Masdar City project) allowed to May 31st.

This may be due in part to the current economic recession, in which all countries, including those in the UAE, are now being affected.

It will take some time before the benefits of Masdar City will be known, and this will become evident only after the entire project has been completed.

Only then will it be known as to whether the project will be model for future habitation and commercial projects. Or a flop.

::Masdar City website [top image via njit]

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14 thoughts on “Masdar City In Abu Dhabi Could Be Practical Community Innovation, Or Expensive Showcase”

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  8. Daniella says:

    The pictures for this project reminded me of the giant spaceship in Wall-E, where all the people sat around getting obese in an enclosed universe. There is something about a mega project like this that is not green, no matter how much of a zero carbon footprint it has. We need to find modest ways of improving our environmental footprint that are affordable to the world’s poor. This is a Pharaonic endeavor that will ultimately craft a tiny “environmental” enclave accessible only to the superwealthy.

  9. Mari Luomi says:

    The fact that Dubai and Abu Dhabi continue to be mixed up (look at the title of this article) proves again that Abu Dhabi has still much work to do before it rises from the shadow of its rebel little brother and captures the regional status it’s striving to achieve. Masdar, Formula 1, Guggenheim and Louvre clearly have not done the trick just yet.

  10. Sandy says:

    I think it is fantastic how we are using renewable energy and going green in so many ways. Even if it is too expensive for some of the stuff the price will drop once it is being used by more people. I think we also need to do things like reducing our energy usage, like installing geothermal heat pumps to replace high energy heating and cooling systems.

  11. Jad Aoun says:

    It is honestly a massive project and I do believe, ultimately it will be an expensive showcase. I don’t believe Masdar will become the blueprint for future cities, but it does allow the world to see what is possible when full innovation meets bottomless wallets.

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