WWF, Abu Dhabi unveil plans for sustainable city

Posted on January, 13 2008

WWF and the government of Abu Dhabi today launched a Sustainability Strategy to deliver the world’s greenest city – Masdar City.

WWF and the government of Abu Dhabi today launched a Sustainability Strategy to deliver the world’s greenest city – Masdar City.

The six square kilometre city, designed by Foster and Associates, is to house an eventual 50,000 people in accordance with WWF One Planet Living sustainability standards which include specific targets for the city’s ecological footprint.

Independent and public verification of Masdar City's performance in meeting these standards is just one of the features distinguishing the project.  Another is the commitment that the project will not just preserve existing regional biodiversity but enhance it.

Masdar City - which will be zero-carbon, zero-waste and car-free - plans to exceed the requirements of  the 10 sustainability principles of the One Planet Living programme, a global initiative launched by WWF and environmental consultancy BioRegional.  It is expected this will make it a global benchmark for sustainable urban development.

The electricity for the six square kilometre city 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.  Construction is to begin in early 2008.

Jean-Paul Jeanrenaud, Director of WWF International’s One Planet Living initiative, said, ”Today Abu Dhabi is embarking on a journey to become the global capital of the renewable energy revolution. Abu Dhabi is the first hydrocarbon-producing nation to have taken such a significant step towards sustainable living.
“Masdar is an example of the paradigm shift that is needed and the strategic vision of the Abu Dhabi government is a case study in global leadership. We hope that Masdar City will prove that sustainable living can be affordable and attractive in all aspects of human living – from businesses and manufacturing facilities to universities and private homes.” 

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. A model of the Masdar City will be unveiled on January 21, at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi.

Dr. Sultan al Jaber, CEO of the Masdar Initiative, said, “Masdar City will question conventional patterns of urban development, and set new benchmarks for sustainability and environmentally friendly design – the students, faculty and businesses located in Masdar City will not only be able to witness innovation first-hand, but they will also participate in its development.”

“We are pleased to be able to work with One Planet Living to make our vision a reality,” he said.

Pooran Desai OBE, co-founder of BioRegional and Technical Director of the One
Planet Living Communities programme, said Masdar would be the largest and one of the most advanced sustainable communities in the world.

“The vision of One Planet Living is a world where people everywhere can lead happy, healthy lives within their fair share of the Earth’s resources. Masdar gives us a breathtaking insight into this positive, alternative future.

“In realising the goal of a sustainable future, Masdar is committed to achieving the One Planet Living Program’s Ten Guiding Principles, covering issues that range from how waste is dealt with to the energy performance of the buildings.”

The One Planet Living programme is based on 10 unique principles of sustainability. Masdar City will meet and exceed each of these, as detailed below.

These targets are to be achieved by the time the Masdar City is completed and fully functioning in 2012.

One Planet Living principle
Masdar Target
100 per cent of energy supplied by renewable energy – Photovoltaics, concentrated solar power, wind, waste to energy and other technologies
99 per cent diversion of waste from landfill (includes waste reduction measures, re-use of waste wherever possible, recycling, composting, waste to energy)
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)
Specifying high recycled materials content within building products; tracking and encouraging the reduction of embodied energy within material sand throughout the construction process; specifying the use of sustainable materials such as Forest Stewardship Council certified timber, bamboo and other products
Retail outlets to meet targets for supplying organic food and sustainable and or fair trade products
Per capita water consumption to be at least 50 per cent less than the national average; all waste water to be re-used
All valuable species to be conserved or relocated with positive mitigation targets
Architecture to integrate local values.
Fair wages and working conditions for all workers (including construction) as defined by international labour standards
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.

The world's first verifiably sustainable city is to begin construction in Abu Dhabi later this year
© Foster & Associates