In Abu Dhabi last week so a great opportunity to visit Masdar City one of the world’s most sustainable urban developments. The locals described the weather as “winter” at only 36 degrees and our Report completed we decided to visit first the new Louvre museum . However, after the cab dropped us off we couldn’t find another one to get out again from the yet to open museum, like Masdar City stunningly designed by Normal Foster and partners.
Eventuality saved from sun stroke death we headed for Masdar City, a real oasis of cool and a mix of offices, residential, retail, and public open space due for completion in 2020. Disappointingly the iconic electric-powered driverless Rapid Transit network was temporarily closed, first time in 7 years! Net energy demand reduced by 70 %, water demand by 300 %, and net waste production by 400 %. The design of walls has a cushion of air to limit heat reducing demand for A/C by 55 % and you could really feel a cooler temperature than elsewhere in the City.
Dependent on oil for too long, the Abu Dhabi Government has invested $15 billion dollars in building a sustainable, eco-city in the desert. Either visionary or a folly, and delighted to keep going back until 2025 when its green ambitions can be properly judged. The environment is striking , swirling terracotta walls and vast arabesque patterns. The aim for reliance on solar energy, and other renewable energy sources is so welcome; the UAE is of course also embarking on a nuclear energy programme towards the Saudi border.
We were also there to see first-hand the Government’s Estidama Pearl Rating System. A framework for sustainable design, construction and operation of communities. Unique in the world , specifically tailored to the hot climate and arid environments. We visited developments in Al Ain, right on the Oman border, where the push was to get the life of a house beyond the traditionally disappointing 25 years. The lack of solar, made difficult by desert dust conditions, has always been striking with so much sun available. All new government buildings must achieve a minimum 2 Pearl rating with more thought on maintenance. Also encouraging new younger residents to accept less traditional more environmentally built designs. Features to prevent heat gain, monitor water consumption and more careful use of materials are key.
Back at Masdar City there was a Boris bike-sharing station but it’s 17 km to town, no bike paths , mad driving and still 34 degrees of heat so it was a non eco taxi back to the Air conditioned hotel!
If you are interested and want to learn more; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FyghLnbp20U
If you really want to learn even more, sign up for the Centre for Housing and Support (CHS) Level 4 course that I Tutor.
Sustainable Repairs and Maintenance (MRR406)