Money: The obstacle as well as catalyst for UAE?s green movement

Spread the love
masdar city zero carbon city
An artist's impression of the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), to be located in Masdar City. It will be the first building in history to produce more energy than it consumes. Photo -

The financial crisis is taking its toll throughout the world, and Abu Dhabi?s first carbon-neutral city, Masdar City, has been forced to hold back its plans to construct headquarters which would be the world?s first building that makes more energy than it consumes.

Masdar, owned by Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, said that it is now reconsidering the design for its headquarters which was initially a 100,000 square-meter (1.1 million square-foot) structure equipped with enough solar panels to cover four soccer fields designed by Chicago-based Adrian Smith & Gordon Gill Architecture.

The structure ?will now be built in phases, in line with market demand and economic conditions at the time,? the company said. Whether the revised design would still allow for the headquarters to generate more power than it uses, as planned earlier but the company said that it will conform to ?the sustainable construction practices implemented across the city.?

The plan fell into a set back as the financial crisis affected Abu Dhabi?s ambitions for its $22 billion government-funded venture.

Plans for Masdar City were laid out in 2006. It is set to be the first carbon-neutral town in the region in which students and companies will pursue renewable energy projects. In October, last year, the organisation announced that it was delaying its first phase to 2015 and ?it would be scaling back the zero-carbon ambition.


Proposals for the design of the headquarters were being pushed forward by architects since 2006. Gordon Gill, a partner at the firm with the initial winning design, said Masdar and its parent company Mubadala Development Co. had, ?built the slab in 2009, and then it went on hold.? In a phone interview he described: ?Mubadala and Masdar are having discussions about the building itself – either they?ve changed the budget, or the building is too big, and they are concerned about tenants. I?m expecting to hear from them within the month about whether they will go ahead.? The building was to have positive energy and would cost about 50% more than any typical office building.

Based on this design, the headquarters was to have provided 3% more energy than required for its own operation, generating 5.5 gigawatt-hours of renewable energy annually. Eleven glass-enclosed towers, or wind cones were to serve as a cooling device for the whole structure by drawing warm air up to the roof and expelling it. Emma Stewart, senior manager for sustainability at Autodesk Inc, which provided software for Smith & Gill?s proposal, said the building?s architects had planned to produce energy while under construction.

Ms. Stewart suggested: ?They could have done a bottom-up building,? instead, she said in her phone interview, ?they prioritised the cones, which provide a cooling system, support the roof and shade the workers from the sun, and then planned to build around them, which is completely the opposite to how you would normally do it.?

The building?s first phase will be ready by the fourth quarter of 2013 Masdar said, as it was not finalising the design.

The United Arab Emirates plans to seek $100 billion in outside investment for alternative and sustainable energy projects by 2020,.? A presentation aimed at potential investors from Brazil to Japan?is set to be held in November, the Ministry of Economy announced.

Masdar City is an important step forward for the UAE and the world in general. Establishing and promoting a green environment is necessary at this point of time as pollution and heat levels are on the rise. It is simply disheartening to see the more positive and ?good? steps taken by governments be deterred by issues of money..

Sources: Bloomberg, Arabian Business

Facebook Comments