8 apr 08 | Real Estate Forum Magazine

Abu Dhabi sustainable project moves forward

By Danielle Douglas

Design work is under way for the headquarters of Masdar, a government initiative aimed at advancing renewable energy resources in the United Arab Emirates' Abu Dhabi. Chicago based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture beat out a field of 159 firms vying for the opportunity to design the property, which will reportedly be the world's first large-scale, mixed use positive energy building.

The project is being developed as part of Phase I of Masdar City, a six-million-sm complex geared toward companies involved in renewable energy and sustainability-related technologies that is being touted as the first zero-carbon, zero-waste city.

"The whole development will rely solely on renewable energy, so there will be no carbon-substantiated damage," explains Khaled Awad, director of property development for Masdar. "We are also quantifying the carbon in the building materials, so that we can offset it through the green strategies around the city by sending energy back to the grid."

Awad notes that the 150,000-sm headquarters will break ground in a few months with a target completion date of 2010. According to the developer, the building will consume 70% less water than a traditional mixed-use structure of comparable size. In addition to Masdar's headquarters, the property will house offices for start-up firms and private residences.

Masdar City, meanwhile is being built in seven phases over the next eight years to the tune of $22 billion, says the executive. Other key features include a residential component, office space, light industrial uses, a hotel and several research facilities. The complex is expected to be home to 50,000 residents, with that figure anticipated to double over time.