Abu Dhabi on Saturday broke ground on Masdar City, the world’s first zero-carbon, zero-waste, car-free city. The milestone event was marked by the laying of a virtual cornerstone by General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and a visually stunning production depicting life in the city.
In conjunction with the groundbreaking, Masdar CEO Dr Sultan Al Jaber confirmed a total development budget for the city of $22 billion (Dh80.7bn). An essential driver for the development of the city is carbon finance. Carbon emissions reduced by Masdar City will be monetised under the Kyoto Protocol’s clean development mechanism.
In addition to full-time residents, Masdar City will seek to attract and encourage collaboration between experts in sustainable transportation; waste management; water and wastewater conservation; green construction, buildings and industrial materials; recycling; biodiversity; climate change, renewable energy and green financial institutions.
Masdarwill maximise the benefits of sustainable technologies, such as photovoltaic cells and concentrated solar power through an integrated planning and design approach.
By implementing these technologies, Masdar City will save the equivalent of more than $2bn in oil over the next 25 years, based on today’s energy prices. The city will also create more than 70,000 jobs and will add more than two per cent to Abu Dhabi’s annual GDP.
"We are creating a city where residents and commuters will live the highest quality of life with the lowest environmental footprint," said Dr Al Jaber. "Masdar City will become the world’s hub for future energy. By taking sustainable development and living to a new level, it will lead the world in understanding how all future cities should be built."
The first step in the city’s seven-phase plan is the development of the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (MIST), the world’s first graduate university dedicated to renewable energy. Developed in collaboration with MIT and scheduled to open in 2009, MIST will maintain a body of students and professors focused on developing the next generation of solutions to the world’s growing dependence on fossil fuels.
The 6.5 kilometre district, located by Abu Dhabi International Airport, is designed by renowned architecture firm Foster + Partners and set to be completed in 2016.
The groundbreaking ceremony’s electricity needs and carbon emissions were entirely offset by solar power reserves produced by Masdar’s photovoltaic testing facilities. Since it began producing power for the national grid in December 2007, the facility has generated more than 5,500 kilowatt hours of electricity.