344K SF Masdar and International Renewable Energy Agency HQ Breaks Ground

3 min read

Masdar City, the low-carbon, low-waste, emerging cleantech cluster and one of the most sustainable communities and mixed-use developments in the world continues its trailblazing development.

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

Masdar City, United Arab Emirates—Masdar City, the low-carbon, low-waste, emerging cleantech cluster and one of the most sustainable communities and mixed-use developments in the world continues its trailblazing development.

Masdar, the renewable energy company behind Masdar City, has broken ground on an over 344,000-square-foot, seven-story, three-building complex that will house its new headquarters, as well the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The three buildings will have a common courtyard, connecting office spaces to retail, dining and walking areas.

The mixed-use development will feature over 10,000 square feet of rooftop photovoltaic solar panels as well design elements and fixtures that will reduce water usage by 50 percent compared to typical Abu Dhabi structures. Construction materials will be sourced from Abu Dhabi’s sustainable supply chain to keep the development process as green as possible. Such materials include recycled steel, low-carbon concrete (containing granulated blasted slag instead of traditional cement, thus reducing its carbon footprint by 30 to 40 percent), 90 percent recycled-content aluminum and sustainably sourced timber.

It is no surprise then, that the complex will try for a four-pearl Estidama Pearl Building Rating System certification, one of the strictest energy efficiency and sustainability standards in the world.

“The buildings integrate cutting-edge technologies in energy efficiency, green building and water conservation. We remain committed to the growth of Masdar City as a technology cluster, enabling companies to set up Middle East operations to support the achievement of regional renewable energy targets and the development of clean technologies,” Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, CEO and managing director of Masdar, said in a press statement.

The Masdar headquarters will be the most advanced mixed-use sustainable developments in the United Arab Emirates. “The building is a shining example of how we can meet our energy needs today while preserving the earth’s resources for tomorrow”, declared Adnan Amin, director-general of IRENA in a news release. “It’s only fitting that the headquarters of IRENA—dedicated to the sustainable use of renewable energy—be located in one of the most sustainable buildings in the world,” he added. IRENA is currently located in Khalidiya in Abu Dhabi.

IRENA was involved in designing its future headquarters so that the building will meet all of its organizational requirements. Others involved in bringing the project to life include Woods Baggot and Brookfield Multiplex. While architectural firm Woods Bagot is responsible for the development’s concept, Brookfield Multiplex, part of Brookfield Australia, received the design and construction contract. Brookfield Multiplex was the general contractor on high-profile projects such as the new Wembley Stadium in London, Dubai’s Emirates Towers and Australia’s Central park tower.

Masdar is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Mubadala Development Company, an Abu Dhabi Government-owned entity set up to stimulate economic diversification and development in the emirate. Masdar City is a unit of Masdar and a community serving as the model of green urban development, a clean technology research and development center, a platform for pilot projects, technology and materials testing. Masdar City is also a special economic development zone with benefits such as zero percent import tariffs, zero percent taxes on companies and individuals, no currency restrictions as well no restrictions on capital movements, profits and quotas.

Masdar City is already operational, but also in full development. It is expected to cover 7 square miles by the end of 2012.  When completed in 2025, Masdar City is expected to have 40,000 residents and over 50,000 commuters. Its estimated cost hovers between $18 and $19 billion.

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