Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, a living lab for sustainability, zero-carbon and zero-wate tech

January 15, 2009

in green

The Masdar City project being built in Abu Dhabi will be the first sustainable city built from scratch to feature state of the art zero-carbon and zero-waste green technologies and, according to me, will work as a living lab for testing new innovations to later apply in existing cities all over the World.

Though the news is not fresh, I recently read on L’Internazionale magazine an article on the Masdar City project promoted by the Abu Dhabi arab emirate through the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, and being realized by Foster + Partners.

Abu Dhabi is one of the major oil producers, so they can be considered partly responsible for their impact on our ecosystem (I say partly because they produce oil only because someone is willing to buy it, so both actors are equally involved in the process). They launched the Masdar initiative as a way to explore new alternatives for when oil will run out (or won’t be required) and to become a leader in the new green technologies that sooner or later will take the place of their actual main industry.

Some of Abu Dhabi’s advantages to promote this project are: 1) that they can dedicate 22 bilion dollars to it (that is 9 zeros, or 22,000,000,000 dollars) and 2) that they can create a new city from zero. Obviously both aspects can’t be easily replicated by other states. Because of this I consider Masdar City will be a great lab to test new technologies, layouts and other innovations that could later be applied by existing cities… I guess that demolishing and re-building them won’t be a feasible alternative 🙂

Key numbers on Masdar City:

  • 22 billion dollar investment
  • 2007-2023 the time lapse for the project, though it should be inhabited since 2016
  • 6 square kilometers the area occupied by the city
  • 50,000 citizens will live in it and 40,000 will commute into it daily
  • the projected daily water consumption per inhabitant will be of 80 liters (while the consumption of the most efficient present technologies is of 180 liters/day per inhabitant)
  • no cars will be allowed into the city which will have an electric “light-rail” transport system including personal “pods”

In order to achieve the zero-pollution and zero-waste objectives, some of the key technologies that will be developed, researched and installed at Masdar City are:

  • solar energy production and storage
  • carbon capture tech
  • wind turbines
  • wastewater purification and recycling
  • intelligent waste management
  • electric transport systems

The official website and wikipedia article include in depth details that I invite you to read (there’s no sense in copy/pasting them here). This is another interesting article by

BTW, they have vacancies for new jobs, so if you’re interested check this out.

Only time will tell if the Masdar City project will be a world leader for innovation or just a marketing bluff. I’m hoping on the former.

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