Monday, October 6, 2008

How's This For Irony, Eh?

I was reading an article in this month's Discover magazine about a new city being built from virtual scratch that will be both carbon-neutral and zero-waste producing. The city will rely completely on "green" technologies -- meaning no gas-guzzling vehicles, no fossil-fuels, and no nuclear power. But here's the kicker: the city, named Masdar, will be located in perhaps the most successful oil-producing corner of the globe, The United Arab Emirates.

Being constructed on a site occupying 2.5 square miles just 11 miles southeast of Abu Dhabi city, Masdar (Arabic for "source") will be a walled-in enclosure eventually housing 50,000 citizens and providing for an additional 40,000 daily commuters who will work and toil in the city's 1,500 planned commercial and manufacturing businesses. The products of these companies will be primarily eco-friendly as well.

A solar-powered desalination plant will provide for the city's water needs. In addition, the water will be continuously recycled, with some of the runoff waste water used for crop irrigation. Solid waste will also be treated and used for soil fertilization.

Masdar will rely entirely on renewable energy for its power supply. The city will utilize a 60-megawatt solar power plant to generate the power needed to construct its buildings and infrastructure. Wind turbines and supplemental photovoltaic modules on the rooftops of most buildings will provide up to an additional 150-megawatts of power to the city after its completion.

Already Masdar is being touted as the city of the future; an experiment with aims to produce more "green" energy than that being consumed. If successful, it will be the model for urban planners in the near future.

One way Masdar will fulfill its need to be green will be through the disallowing of all carbon-fueled vehicles entering the city limits. Local transportation will be provided, instead, by a network of magnetized strips which will propel specially designed electric vehicles throughout the city. These driverless "cabs" will connect to around 83 stations all over the city, so that pedestrians might easily and comfortably travel without the fear of adding to the global carbon footprint. A pair of electric rail systems will connect Masdar to the outside world, allowing tourists and commuters to enter and leave the city with ease.

The planned Masdar City headquarters (pictured in the concept art above) will be the first building of its kind to generate the power it will need for its own construction. Before the 1.4 million square foot structure is built, a large solar-panelled platform will be assembled first and serve as the headquarters' roof, where it will continue to provide all the power needs for the office and administrative spaces housed under its photovoltaic umbra. The building will cost an estimated $300 million to construct.

Which begs the question: where is all this money coming from? The project is being headed by the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, with the Emirate of Abu Dhabi itself committing $15 billion to the initiative's projected $22 billion price tag. Through the project's Clean Tech Fund, additional investments are provided by such notable partners as General Electric, British Petroleum, Mitsubishi, and Royal Dutch Shell.

The project, called the Masdar Initiative, began back in 2006 and has a planned completion date of sometime in 2013. However, the first phase of the city's development will be finalized and ready for habitation by as early as next year!

And other countries aren't doing this why?

You can read more about this experiment in green urban planning by visiting The Masdar Initiative's official website. I could not find a copy of the print article on Discover magazine's website for linking.

1 comment:

Ashe Hunt said...

Hey, america and europe been slipping. We should have done this long ago. Glad someone is doing it though. Fuck around, I'll change my major to something that'll be useful for living there and relocate!

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