Sustainability - Sustainable Urban Development - Masdar City (2023)

Masdar City combines passive and intelligent design to demonstrate how an urban environment can accommodate denser populations more efficiently. The water and energy demand of the city’s buildings is 40 per cent lower than that of the average building in Abu Dhabi, and each building must meet a minimum 3-Pearl rating according to the Estidama Pearl Building Rating System. Administered by the Abu Dhabi Department of Municipalities and Transport (DMT), a 3-Pearl Estidama rating is comparable to the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold international green building certification.

The City is a hub connecting education with research & development and business with investment. It serves as a test bed for renewable energy and technology companies in the UAE and around the world.

Master Plan

Masdar City aims to be a commercially viable city offering the highest quality of life within the lowest environmental footprint. The city is a mixed-use, sustainable community, including employment-generating land uses, residential areas, parks, plazas and neighbourhood amenities.

Masdar City is a free zone and an investment zone, enabling foreign ownership of property and companies, and attracting clean tech companies of all sizes and types to test, commercialise and deploy clean energy technologies.

The city’s walkable environment offers multiple clean tech transit options including the Personal Rapid Transit, an internal electronic driverless mode of movement, the NAVYA Autonom Shuttle, an autonomous vehicle that transports up to 12 people at one time, and Circ e-scooters, among others. Externally, two major Abu Dhabi networks, the Metro and the Light Rail Transit (LRT) are planned to pass through Masdar City.

Masdar City is strongly focused on sustainable development, through the reduction of demand for energy and water, and recycling and reuse of waste material particularly during the construction activities.

Masdar City has made ambitious commitments under the Estidama building rating system, targeting a minimum rating of 3-Pearls for all buildings. The city is also targeting a minimum rating of 4-Pearls for its public areas, including parks, plazas and streets, in line with the Estidama Pearl Community Rating System.

Ongoing growth will eventually see 50,000 people living at Masdar City, whilst 40,000 jobs and student placements will be offered.

Masdar City’s master plan is fundamental to the city’s sustainability goals. To view Masdar City’s master plan, please click here.

Sustainable Buildings & Projects

Each building in Masdar City is constructed with low-carbon cement, utilises 90 per cent recycled aluminium, and is designed to reduce energy and water consumption by at least 40 per cent compared with the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standards. These criteria are set in accordance with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification and the UAE’s Estidama Pearl Rating System, which is administered by Abu Dhabi’s DMT. Estidama means ‘sustainability’ in Arabic.

Sustainable Buildings

International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) HQ

The IRENA HQ is a 32,064-square-metre complex and the UAE’s first 4 Pearl building based on the Estidama Pearl Building Rating System. Passive design and smart-energy management systems enable the complex to consume 64% less energy than typical office buildings in Abu Dhabi.

Etihad Eco-Residence

(Video) Masdar City - world’s most sustainable urban communities, a low-carbon development made up

Comprising 11 buildings, the Etihad Eco-Residence is Abu Dhabi’s first purpose-built LEED Platinum corporate residence for cabin crew. It comprises 500 one- and two-bedroom apartments. Each of the buildings has been designed using low carbon construction materials. Transport-related carbon emissions from building the project were further reduced thanks to the use of local suppliers.

Siemens Middle East HQ

The Siemens Middle East HQ has been designed with sustainable materials and energy efficient technologies. Inaugurated in 2014, the building was acknowledged as Abu Dhabi’s first LEED Platinum office building and has a 3- Pearl rating under the Estidama system.

Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence

The world’s first university for artificial intelligence (AI), the Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI) is a graduate-level research institution, named after His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

The university offers Master of Science and PhD programmes across three areas: machine learning, computer vision and natural language processing. Applications are currently being accepted and classes are scheduled to begin in September 2020.

The addition of the research-institution to Masdar City bolsters the city’s reputation as the home of innovation in Abu Dhabi and provides the opportunity for collaboration to develop innovative AI solutions for sustainable development.

Majid Al Futtaim My City Centre Masdar

The 18,500 square metre ground floor area (GFA) My City Centre Masdar mall is located in the heart of the city and is anchored by hypermarket Carrefour. The mall provides a quality retail offering including Al Jaber Optical, Zaatar w Zeit, The Coffee Club and Cinnabon. Inaugurated in April 2019, My City Centre Masdar is Abu Dhabi’s most sustainable mall.

The Knowledge Centre

The 900-square-metre Knowledge Centre is the gateway to the Masdar City campus of the Khalifa University of Science and Technology. Housing the campus library, the Knowledge Centre is a model of sustainable design. Its distinctive roof provides shade, minimises the structure’s cooling load, and regulates natural daylight. In addition, the building’s orientation optimises the efficiency of its rooftop solar panels.

(Video) Masdar City For A Sustainable Future


Masdar City’s first office building, the Incubator Building, integrates retail and office space and houses a range of businesses including start-ups, SMEs, and the regional offices of large multinational corporations. The building uses innovative design, high performance façades, and smart shading strategies to reduce the operating costs of its tenants.

Leonardo Residences

Comprising 170 residential units, leisure amenities and basement car parking, the Leonardo Residences was completed in 2018 and is the first private residential offering in Masdar City.

Krypto Labs

The 4,200-square-metre facility at Masdar City is an all-in-one business incubator, accelerator and co-working space for start-ups and individual entrepreneurs from anywhere in the world who want to develop innovative products and services catering to the widest variety of industries.

The Accelerator Building

Strategically located and easily accessible, the Accelerator Building is located at the heart of Masdar City’s R&D cluster. It comprises three levels of 5,000 sq.m ground floor area (GFA).

(Video) Masdar City, Abu Dhabi’s most sustainable urban community

Tech Park

The Tech Park is a platform for entrepreneurs and students to convert their innovative ideas into prototypes and products. Made out of 16 recycled shipping containers, it will offer workspaces, a training centre, as well as a shop. Fitted with state-of-the-art prototyping equipment, the park will run workshops on a wide range of practical skills and technologies, from 3D printing to electronics to carpentry. The park opened in Q1, 2018.

Green Building Prototypes

Eco-Villa Prototype

The 405-square-metre Eco-Villa is the first villa to achieve a 4 Pearl rating according to the Abu Dhabi Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities’ Estidama Pearl Building Rating System. It uses around 72 per cent less energy and 35 per cent less water than a comparably sized villa in Abu Dhabi, displacing an estimated 63 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually. The cost of construction was similar to that of a conventional home of the same size. When fully equipped with 87 rooftop solar panels, the four-bedroom property is capable of supplying as much as 40,000 kWh of electricity to the national grid.

Saint-Gobain Multi-Comfort Home

Due for completion by the end of 2019, Saint-Gobain’s Multi-Comfort Home will demonstrate the company’s patented technology aimed at improving health and well-being within the built environment. According to the Multi-Comfort philosophy, homes that are more comfortable make for happier and more productive people, and are more sustainable as a result.

The Multi-Comfort Home at Masdar City will function as an office space and a showroom for Saint-Gobain’s products and solutions in sustainable living. It will also be a training centre.

Renewable Energy Landmarks

Solar PV Plant

The 10-megawatt (MW) solar array at Masdar City was the largest solar project of its kind in the Middle East when launched in 2009. The facility produces about 17,500 megawatt-hours of clean electricity annually and offsets 15,000 tonnes of carbon emissions per year, which is equivalent of removing around 3,500 cars off the road. The plant consists of 87,780 multicrystalline and thin-film modules.

Wind Tower

The Masdar City Wind Tower is a contemporary interpretation of the traditional Arabic wind tower, or barjeel. At a height of 45 metres, the tower captures cooler upper-level winds and directs them to the public square at its base. Sensors at the top of the steel structure operate louvres to open in the direction of prevailing winds so as to divert wind down the tower.

(Video) Sustainable Cities: Crash Course Geography #49

Upcoming Projects

GEMS Education

Over 4 hectares of land, offering a premium British curriculum encompassing education from primary to year 11. Approximately 2,500 students will become the community focus for the next phase of Masdar City.

(Video) Sustainable City | Fully Charged

Masdar Institute Neighbourhood One Residences

A large mixed-use residential development at the core of the city, the Masdar Institute Neighbourhood One Residences is currently under construction and is expected to be completed in 2019. With more than more than 800 apartments built to a minimum 3 Pearl Estidama rating, the purpose-built community will be made up of apartments, offices and retail space including shops, cafés and a supermarket spread over 100,000 square metres of gross floor area (GFA).


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