Once billed as the world's first zero carbon, zero waste city in the desert environs of Abu Dhabi, Masdar hasn't quite lived up to its original ambitions. But it has come fairly close. Initially launched in 2006, the government-backed project has gone through several phases. Two years ago we visited the first Masdar Institute buildings with their iconic terra-cotta facades and rooftop photovoltaic panels. Now new buildings are sprouting, including Siemens' regional headquarters expected to achieved LEED Platinum and three pearls from the Estidama rating system. Flip through our gallery for an exclusive peak at the first images of the expanded Masdar Institute and a futuristic new hub designed to host 100 clean tech companies from around the globe.
Taken while on a Masdar-sponsored trip that included a tour to the Shams 1 Concentrated Solar Power Plant and interviews with several key Masdar officials, these images are a testament to Masdar’s perseverance despite overwhelming criticism in its early phases. A subsidiary of the government owned Mubadala, Masdar has several branches, which includes Masdar City just outside of the capital, Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, which is fast becoming a state of the art learning institute with ties to MIT in the United States, Masdar Capital, and Masdar Clean Energy.
While Masdar has yet to achieve zero waste or zero energy, consider these fast facts: the rooftop panels satisfy 30% of the program’s energy requirement, while the gap is filled up by an on-site 10MW photovoltaic plant. Given that the overall load currently stands at just 2-3MW, Masdar is generating far more energy than it requires. The rest is fed into the national grid. 96 percent of the construction waste has been recycled. Concrete is crushed and used for roads, wood is shredded and used as mulch and new uses are found for aluminum and steel as well. Energy consumption is moderated by a sophisticated smart system that has (in tandem with specially-designed facades and passive design) reduced energy loads by 50 percent. Masdar’s cooling load is 40 percent lower than a comparable building.
Water conservation is perhaps the most important aspect of any new build in the United Arab Emirates. Masdar CEO Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber conceded recently at the opening ceremony of the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi that “water is more important than oil,” which means a host of initiatives are underway to ensure its expedient use. At Masdar, PV panels are washed with water just twice a year. The rest of the time they are cleaned manually with brooms. Water saving fixtures coupled with a greywater recycling program has reduced consumption by 54 percent. These new buildings should be online by the early part of this year, after which the next phase of Masdar City will continue apace.
All images by Tafline Laylin for Inhabitat