foster_masdar.jpgAbu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, is awash in profitable oil reserves yet pouring billions into renewable- and sustainable-energy technologies to build the world’s first zero-emission city, “a metropolis that emits not a single extra molecule of carbon dioxide — the cause of global warming”. Abu Dhabi’s green ambitions extend well beyond the construction of a city for 50,000 residents using no cars and lots of solar energy… 

The World Wildlife Fund and Masdar, The Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, this week launched a “Sustainability Action Plan” to deliver the world’s greenest city – Masdar City. Located near Abu Dhabi International Airport, Masdar City will be the world’s first zero-carbon, zero-waste, car-free city, aiming to exceed the 10 sustainability principles of “One Planet Living™”– a global initiative launched by the Worldwide Fund for Nature and environmental consultancy BioRegional. 

Masdar City’s electricity will be generated by photovoltaic panels, while cooling will be provided via concentrated solar power. Water will be provided through a solar-powered desalination plant. Landscaping within the city and crops grown outside the city will be irrigated with grey water and treated waste water produced by the city’s water treatment plant.

The city is part of the Masdar Initiative, Abu Dhabi’s multi-faceted investment in the exploration, development and commercialisation of future energy sources and clean technology solutions. The six-square kilometre city, growing eventually to 1,500 businesses and 50,000 residents, will be home to international business and top minds in the field of sustainable and alternative energy.

A model of the Masdar City will be unveiled on January 21, at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi. Ground breaks for the construction of the city in the first quarter of 2008.

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

In June 2007, Masdar City received the first World Clean Energy Award from the Transatlantic21 Association in Basel, Switzerland. In September 2007, the city’s design was voted “Sustainable Region/ City of the Year” at Euromoney and Ernst & Young’s Global Renewable Energy Awards.

More at Spiegel Online International. T

hanks to Ro B. for the tip!


  1. This is an amazing model … a zero-emission city, I didn’t realize it was possible with present-day technologies. It’ll even have a solar-powered desalination plant. May the city flourish and serve as a model for more zero-emission metros throughout the world.

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