Frequently Asked Questions
A. One of the most sustainable mixed-use developments on the planet, Masdar City is an emerging cleantech cluster that offers a creative and entrepreneurial atmosphere where businesses can thrive and innovation can flourish, in part because the city itself serves as a model of what green urban development can be. This is especially the case because Masdar City is being designed and operated to provide the highest quality of life with the lowest environmental footprint – all in a manner that is commercially viable.
It is a community where cutting-edge cleantech research and development, pilot projects, technology and materials testing, and construction on some of the world’s most sustainable buildings are all ongoing. As an open technology platform, Masdar City partners have an unmatched opportunity to develop, test and validate their technologies in a large scale, real-world environment
With six buildings completed, the 6km2 Masdar City is already operational, with additional buildings coming online in by the end of 2012 and tripling the current size. At full build-out by 2025, the city is expected to have 40,000 residents and 50,000 commuters.
Masdar City is a unit of Masdar, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Mubadala Development Company, which is itself an Abu Dhabi Government-owned vehicle set up to spur economic development and diversification in the emirate.
A. Masdar means “the source” in Arabic and refers to Masdar the company, including Masdar City, being a source of many things -- including knowledge, innovation and human capital development in the areas of renewable energy and clean technologies. It will be a source for economic diversification and knowledge-economy jobs for Abu Dhabi. It will be a source for expertise in sustainable urban development and design.
A. The first six buildings of the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology campus are completed and fully operational. They include three residential buildings, two laboratory buildings and a Knowledge Centre – a total of 35,000m2 of gross floor area. Students live in the on-campus housing within Masdar City, while cutting-edge research, classes and other activities are taking place on the campus. There are a number of retail, services and food and beverage outlets already open and serving customers in the city. Masdar City even hosts a monthly organic farmers market and street fair from April to October every year.
Construction of the second phase of Masdar Institute is ongoing and is set to be completed by the middle of 2012; the 10,000m2 Courtyard Building, which will be the first commercial building in the city is expected to be handed over by mid-2012 as well, while the 23,100m2 Siemens Middle East Headquarters Building is expected to be completed by the end of 2012. These represent three projects that will triple the size of the city, from 35,000m2 to approximately 110,000m2 by the end of 2012.
At full build-out by 2025, the city is expected to have 40,000 residents and 50,000 commuters.
A. The Masdar City master plan and the Masdar Institute design were developed by Foster + Partners. Infrastructure for the City has been designed by UK Engineering firm Mott MacDonald. The public realm Landscape Strategy was developed by EDAW; lighting by Spiers & Major Associates (SAMA), and wayfinding by Endpoint Gulf, in collaboration with Citi ID.
The Siemens Middle East Headquarters Building was designed by Sheppard Robson International, in collaboration with AECOM.
Many other local and international firms have contributed to the design and planning of the city and many new ones will be invited to contribute in the future.
A. Masdar City will cost approximately US$18-US$19 billion.
A. Masdar City seeks to be a vibrant global cleantech cluster that provides an attractive environment for all types of organisations operating in the renewable energy and cleantech industries in addition to ancillary service providers that will support the development of the cluster. Already, it is a community where cutting-edge cleantech research and development, pilot projects, technology testing, and construction on some of the world’s most sustainable buildings are all ongoing. In practical terms, this mean creating the kind of working environment and infrastructure, and providing the services, facilities and other amenities that companies and organizations operating in the cleantech and renewable energy field want and need to succeed.
Equally, the city has a vision to provide the highest quality of life and work environment with the lowest environment footprint – and to do so in a commercially viable manner. Being commercially viable is central to this vision because of Masdar City’s goal to be a model city for sustainable urban development elsewhere in the UAE, the MENA region and globally.
A. Masdar City, like Masdar as a whole, is an important pillar of Abu Dhabi’s 2030 goals – both its economic and urban planning goals. On the economic front, as a cleantech cluster and test-bed of renewable energy and sustainable technologies, Masdar City is an internationally attractive magnet for the knowledge-intensive industries, companies and organisations operating in this dynamic and rapidly expanding industry. Masdar City also provides an environment where new technologies are developed, commercialised and exported. As a result, Masdar City helps Abu Dhabi regarding two key priorities: 1) diversifying its economic base and 2) building an indigenous, technology-exporting knowledge economy.
On the urban planning front, Masdar City has already contributed to the Urban Planning Council’s Estidama sustainable building rating system. Masdar City experts have worked with the Abu Dhabi Department of Municipal Affairs (DMA) on their world-class building codes that will substantially improve building efficiency in water and power consumption. Sustainability is an important cornerstone of Abu Dhabi’s 2030 urban development plan. In many other areas, Masdar City’s professionals are serving as an additional resource to the UPC, Department of Transportation, Centre of Waste Management and DMA on a range of other urban planning issues. Masdar City also is providing major education outreach resources to the public and in local schools.
On a much broader level, many of the lessons learned at Masdar City regarding what works and what doesn’t in the field of sustainable urban development, planning and design are being shared with the UPC, the DMA and other government regulators and policymakers, as they seek to maximise the sustainability of the city as a whole. From smart utility metres and solar panels on buildings to solid waste standards and street widths, Masdar City (along with the rest of Masdar) is a constant partner to Abu Dhabi in the development of its urban planning and energy policies and strategies.
In addition, throughout the Municipal regulatory approvals process – from civil defence and utilities to transportation and waste management – Masdar City has developed strong working relationships with the various regulatory bodies, in which the city can help raise awareness and expertise among Abu Dhabi regulators regarding the issues involved in sustainable urban development.
On a different level, Masdar City operates a rich and engaged public education and awareness programme primarily targeting schools. It goes into schools and other civic organisations to provide information on climate change and the need for sustainability, sustainable living tools and advice on ways that we all can help reduce our collective ecological footprint. In this regard, Masdar City is working with the Abu Dhabi Education Council as they seek to incorporate sustainability education into the local curriculum.
A. There are many ways that mark the city as sustainable. They include:
A. One of the primary reasons Masdar City has a focus on commercial viability is to ensure we are relevant to others cities, developers, architects, contractors and planners operating in the field of sustainable urban development. While not everything we do is relevant to every urban development around the world, and some of what we are doing is more relevant to some cities than others, still, a great deal of what we are doing has widespread application.
In fact, building on our experience and in-house expertise, we offer a wide range of consulting services across a range of sustainable urban development.
Areas of particular relevance include our experience looking to historic and indigenous urban planning and architectural models for insights into sustainable building in this region, our use of building and street orientation, our work on smart grids, metres, appliances; our studies into solar thermal and geothermal heat to power absorption chiller air conditioning; our work on a citywide municipal systems management platform; clean transportation efforts; daylighting systems, our sustainable supply chain; and the monitoring of how people respond to different incentives and stimuli regarding power, water and waste services.
Ultimately, it will take contributions from all types of cities pursuing a wide range of development and sustainability models to give the global community a full picture of what sustainable urban development will encompass.
A. Masdar City’s successes can most clearly be seen in two areas: the supply chain and the built environment. Regarding the supply chain, the city’s engagement with local and international suppliers has resulted in the city helping develop and/or bring to local markets a range of green materials, including low-carbon cement; high-recycled-content aluminium; sustainably sourced timber; water-based, low-VOC paints; and 100% recycled steel reinforcing bars. More specifically, this includes:
Concrete– The ready-mix concrete used to build Masdar City contributes significantly to the carbon footprint; however, a variety of steps were taken to improve the sustainability of this concrete with regard to the sourcing of the materials and innovative design mixes and systems. All mix designs use granulated blast furnace slag (GGBS) as a 40% to 60% replacement for Portland cement. As GGBS is a by-product of the process to produce steel and is typically directed to landfills, using this material as raw material for another process reduces waste, improves the concrete’s strength and durability, and reduces water and embodied carbon.
Aluminium– Masdar City worked with local and international suppliers and partners to develop recycled aluminium for use in the Masdar Institute buildings’ façades. The facades used 90%-recycled aluminium for an embedded carbon number of 0.98kg CO2e/kg, less than 10% that of conventional aluminium. Extrusions for windows and doorframes have been developed for the Masdar headquarters building with an 81% post-consumer and post-industrial recycled aluminium for an embedded carbon number of 5.96kg CO2/kg, nearly 50% less than conventional aluminium.
Steel– Steel reinforcing bars used in the first Masdar Institute buildings were made with recycled scrap sourced from electric arc furnace (EAF) steel mills locally and Turkey.
Timber- A glued laminated timber roof was selected for the Masdar Institute Knowledge Centre as it is graceful and beautiful, but also because by using FSC-certified timber, it has a lower embodied energy coefficient than other options.
Because of its need to understand the lifecycle impact of its supply chain, Masdar City developed a rigorous product assessment process that has evolved into the region’s first home-grown sustainable building products and materials listing portal. Called The Future Build, this portal makes it easy for architects, engineers and contractors to source locally available “green” materials for their projects in the UAE and region.
In terms of successes in the built environment, the Masdar Institute’s residential buildings are designed to use 54% less potable water and 51% less electricity than business as usual (BAU), while 30% of buildings’ power demand is met by rooftop PV and 75% of hot water is provided by rooftop thermal collectors.
As well, with more than a dozen pilot projects underway, there are early successes to note, including the promising results from test drilling to use geothermal heat to power absorption chillers for air conditioning, integrated solar thermal air conditioning systems, and various daylighting systems – all of which could contribute to a further drop in demand for electricity.
A. Yes, Masdar City welcomes visits from the general public. While groups can arrange for special tours, it also is easy to take a self-guided tour of the city, which today is comprised of the first six buildings of the Masdar Institute campus. Visitors can ride on the futuristic PRT (personal rapid transit) system being piloted in the city that is comprised of computer-guided, driverless vehicles that shuttle visitors between the parking lot and the campus.
Visitors also can travel from the parking lot to the campus by hopping on one of the all-electric hatchback cars that are part of another transport system being piloted in the city.
Once on campus, visitors can enjoy the beautiful architecture and landscaping, explore the sustainability techniques and materials used in the campus, and take advantage of the retail shops operating in the city, including Caribou Coffee, health insurance provider Daman, telecom provider Etisalat, Sumo Sushi, express delivery company Aramex, Omeir Travel, Organic Foods & Cafe and National Bank of Abu Dhabi.
If you are part of a delegation and have a business interest in Masdar you can register for a Masdar City tour by visiting www.masdarconnect.com.
A. Caribou Coffee, health insurance provider Daman, telecom provider Etisalat, Sumo Sushi & Bento, express delivery company Aramex, Omeir Travel, Organic Foods & Cafe and National Bank of Abu Dhabi and Modern National Laundry. Delivery service is provided by Caribou Coffee, Sumo Sushi & Bento, Organic Foods & Café and Aramex.
A. Partners in the planning, design, engineering and architecture of the city include Foster + Partners, Mott MacDonald, and Sheppard Robson International. Technology and development partners include Siemens, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, GE, Schneider Electric, BASF, Bayer MaterialScience, Swiss Village Association, and Korea Technopark Association. Pilot project partners include Sopogy, Yazaki, Mirroxx, Broad, Reykjavík Geothermal, Swegon, Solatube, 3M and Targetti.
There are three main ways to engage with Masdar City: through joint technology pilot projects; as an outside supplier to the city and its contractors; and as a business partner operating in the city, and possibly supplying to the city as well.
A. Masdar City has six technology focus areas:
A. First off, a pilot project is the implementation of a new product, material, system or policy on a very small scale to demonstrate whether an idea will work in practice, outside the lab. The pilot projects highlight the unique benefits of the city as a test-bed for commercialising a range of sustainable technologies relevant to urban development. Some of the ongoing and future pilot projects taking place at Masdar City include:
Smart grid– Masdar City and Siemens are working on an innovative power grid and advanced building management system that will operate with full interactivity all along the grid, from power generation to power consumption, for the first phase of Masdar City.
Geothermal– Masdar City is testing the viability of using heat from geothermal sources deep beneath the city to power single-effect absorption chillers that would provide cooling for the city. This would be the world’s first geothermal-powered district cooling system. The pilot is being done in conjunction with Iceland’s Reykjavik Geothermal, a leader in geothermal exploration and project management.
Beam-Down Project– This is a concentrated solar power project led by the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, Japan’s Cosmo Oil Company and the Tokyo Institute of Technology. The Beam Down Plant has the potential to convert sunlight into electricity in a more efficient, lower-cost way than other CSP technologies by placing the solar heat receiver at the base of the tower (ground level).
EV transportation– Masdar City and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries are testing the feasibility of EV technology as a point-to-point transportation solution for Masdar City, and in particular, testing and validating the performance of EVs and various charging solutions given the region's climate and usage patterns,
PRT – Working with 2getthere, the manufacturer and operator of the personal rapid transit (PRT) and freight rapid transit system (FRT), Masdar City is testing this transportation concept, which is still very much in its infancy. Every aspect of this driverless, computer-managed, electric-vehicle system will be studied.
Single-effect solar absorption chiller– This single-effect absorption chiller, powered by an 80m2 solar thermal collector field, has shown its high reliability in the Abu Dhabi climate. The entire plant was provided by Yazaki.
Double-effect solar absorption chiller– Designed and engineered by Masdar, this system combines several advanced technologies with the goal of creating a highly efficient solar thermal air-conditioning system. It is the first in the GCC, and one of only a handful around the world, to use high-temperature solar thermal energy to run a double-effect absorption chiller. Partners in this project include Sopogy, Mirroxx, Broad and Schneider Electric.
Energy efficient air conditioning– A highly efficient air handling unit and 24 active chilled beams – all supplied by Swegon – are providing cool fresh air in an energy efficient system.
Passive daylighting system– Daylight-capturing dome lenses and in-dome reflectors redirect low-angle sunlight and reject overpowering summer midday sunlight to provide consistent natural lighting throughout the day to interior rooms. Solatube provided the energy-saving system.
Active daylighting system– 3M and Targetti have implemented this energy-saving system that uses a collector with a suntracking mirror array to provide constant and natural daylight to interior rooms.
Smart appliances– In a two-year project to be run jointly, GE Consumer & Industrial and Masdar City will test how GE smart (i.e., demand response) appliances and Home Energy Manager (HEM) systems can lower power consumption in the home and offices across the city through two-way communication and built-in advanced energy management functionality that reduces power demand in response to notification of changing “utility prices” and energy demand. It also will measure and transmit real-time power consumption data.
Masdar City is a one-of-a-kind business location that puts companies operating from here at the heart of this global and dynamic industry. Every aspect of operating in Masdar City has been designed to allow partner organizations to focus all their energies on their core activities. Masdar City’s One-Stop Shop can handle the rest – from government services to visas to numerous business services, such as travel arrangements.
What’s more, the office environment, urban landscape, and architecture is high-quality, highly sustainable, conducive to business productivity and will be a unique selling point to companies located in Masdar City when hiring or locating employees to its Masdar City offices.
Other benefits include:
Above all, there is a buzz and vibrancy about the place. The university is in full swing; dozens of research projects are taking place there. Masdar City is currently operating or has finalised the focus of more than a dozen pilot projects at the city, with partners from literally across the globe. These are in the areas of advanced cooling, lighting, air conditioning systems, transportation and smart grids. There is product and materials testing also happening onsite. All of this gives a sense for the early vibrancy and excitement that characterises Masdar City today and in the future.
A. Every aspect of licensing and operating from Masdar City has been refined to ensure organisations operating in the city can focus all their resources and efforts on their core activities. Nearly everything else – from registration and licensing to government relations and fast-track visa processing – is handled by Masdar City’s One-Stop Shop, a best-in-class service for companies operating in this special economic zone.
As well, a range of business amenities is available to companies operating in the city, including visa, travel, insurance, banking, translation and utility bill payment services
Additional special economic zone benefits include:
A. Drawing on its experience and in-house expertise, Masdar City offers five services to help organisations more efficiently achieve their sustainability goals:
Product and Service Co-Development
As a greenfield development and open technology platform, Masdar City offers manufacturers and software developers opportunities to co-develop with Masdar City, test and validate their technologies in a large-scale, real-world environment.
Assessment Tools & Databases
Having faced the challenge identifying and sourcing certifiably “green” materials and products, Masdar City has developed a continually growing database of sustainable products that it has launched as an online web portal, The Future Build.
Testing & Certification
Masdar City is working with leading global testing providers to offer a range of best-in-class testing and certification services to cleantech product and green building material manufacturers, software developers and solar energy technology developers.
Training & Education
Masdar City offers training and educational programmes in the areas of sustainable supply chain and applied sustainable development.
With experience combining real estate and sustainability in a way that’s commercially viable and high quality, Masdar City offers a range of consulting services on sustainable urban development and master planning to property developers, municipalities, real estate authorities and other entities around the world.
A. The first non-university residential buildings will be completed as part of Phase 1 by 2015.
A. Masdar City will operate a clean-energy transportation system in the city that will operate Group Rapid Transit (GRT), whether electric trams, trolleys or buses, to operate a loop route through the city. The combination of GRT, strategically located parking lots at the city’s edge and Abu Dhabi’s light rail and Metro lines passing through the centre of the city will support the city’s goal of ensuring no destination in the city is more than 250m-300m from public transport. As well, the city continues to evaluate other electric-powered transport options, including electric vehicle (EV) cars, such as the ongoing point-to-point EV pilot being done in conjunction with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Masdar City also is test piloting the personal rapid transit (PRT) system within the Masdar Institute campus.
A. Shibam in Yemen, Aleppo in Syria and Marrakesh in Morocco are just a few of the cities from the region that inspired the city’s master plan, as well as traditional districts within Abu Dhabi, Dubai and other cities in the UAE and Gulf region.
A. Rising 45m above the podium, this modern interpretation of one of the region’s most iconic traditional architectural features is a landmark for the Masdar Institute neighbourhood. The tower’s height means it can capture upper-level winds and direct them to the open-air public square at its base. Sensors at the top of the steel structure operate high-level louvers to open in the direction of prevailing winds and to close in other directions to divert wind down the tower. A PTFE membrane carries the wind downward, while mist generators at the top add additional cooling to the air. The wind tower combines evaporative cooling and air movement techniques to help moderate perceived air temperatures in the public square at the tower’s base, thereby improving personal comfort. Masdar Institute also uses the tower as a platform for scientific instruments, such as weather measuring equipment and air quality testing tools.
A. A number of techniques and devices – such as the orientation of the streets and city to minimise heat gain and maximise cooling breezes; narrower streets to provide maximum shade on streets and buildings; colonnades, whose shadowy recesses offer respite from the sun; planting and greenery; and water features all help to significantly reduce the radiant temperature, compared with downtown Abu Dhabi. Other vernacular devices are used, such as wind gates to regulate the wind flow within the streets.
A. Phase 2 of the Masdar Institute campus is currently under construction and is set to be handed over in the second half of 2012. Adding 44,800m2 of gross floor area, which it will more than double the size of the current campus. Masdar City’s first 10,000m2 commercial building, The Courtyard Building, also is currently under construction and is located in the heart of the Masdar Institute campus. It also is set for completion in the second half of 2012.
Construction is set to begin in the second half of 2011 on the five-storey Siemens Building, which will be home to its regional headquarters, housing its Middle East headquarters, a Centre of Excellence in Building Technologies and other initiatives, including a Leadership Development Centre. Completion of the building is scheduled for the end of 2012.
A. A 10MW solar photovoltaic plant is already operational within Masdar City, the largest such solar plant in the Middle East. It powers the first Masdar Institute buildings, the temporary Masdar administration buildings and many ongoing construction activities on site. Built across 22 hectares by Abu Dhabi-based Enviromena, the plant was connected to the Abu Dhabi power grid in April 2009 and consists of 50% thin film photovoltaic modules and 50% polycrystalline photovoltaic modules.
Onsite solar power also is provided by a 1MW solar photovoltaic plant located on the roofs of the first Masdar Institute buildings and which is providing up to 1,500 MWh of electricity a year, approximately 15%-20% of the buildings’ overall energy requirements.
A. Masdar Institute offers an Interdisciplinary Doctoral Degree Program (IDDP) culminating in the awarding of a PhD, as well as eight two-year MSc programmes:
A. During the 2010-2011 academic year, Masdar Institute had 153 students from 32 countries. It expects to have 600 students in five years.
A. Masdar Institute accepts applications from qualified local and international students. Acceptance into the programs depends on academic qualifications and English proficiency, as all lectures, laboratory sessions, and written/oral examinations at the Institute will be conducted in English. All successful applicants to Masdar Institute are offered a scholarship, which provides full financial support. The scholarships, which are available to students from all nationalities, include all tuition fees, laptop, medical insurance, housing, travel expenses, and a cost of living allowance.
A. For the time being property can only be leased.
A. Those interested in leasing office space should contact Masdar City on +9712 653 3333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A. Phase 1 will have a series of recreational fields and sport areas. Masdar Institute Phase 2 will have a swimming pool, fitness centre and indoor gym. Currently, there is a Caribou Coffee, Sumo Sushi & Bento and Organic Foods & Café, as well as a university cafeteria.
A. In addition to using 100% treated wastewater for irrigation, landscaping targets a 60% reduction in water usage per square metre from BAU through a variety of strategies, including highly efficient micro-irrigation, landscaping design that minimises plant evapotranspiration, and low-water-use and indigenous plants and trees. Water features are generally shaded to reduce evaporation and tend to be flowing down surfaces, rather than, say, fountains.
A. At present Masdar is providing residences for the use of Masdar Institute only.