Masdar City draws praise from UN

Urban planners at the UN have praised Abu Dhabi's Dh55bn Masdar City project as a model for environmentally friendly construction.

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NEW YORK // Urban planners at the UN have praised Abu Dhabi's Dh55 billion (US$15bn) Masdar City project as a model for environmentally friendly construction that could help mitigate the effects of climate change. Speaking at the launch of UN Habitat's Global Report on Human Settlements 2009: Planning Sustainable Cities, officials said the capital's novel eco-city melded the most important elements of green design.

"It brings together all the trends we are talking about - renewable energy, reconfiguring the metabolism of cities to enhance efficiency, carbon neutral cities, public transport which is not dependent on fossil fuel and local green innovation," said the report's author, Dr Naison Mutizwa-Mangiza. "No single city has taken all of them on board. Its utility is in demonstrating the totality of all of these technologies being combined and working at the city level. That has not been done anywhere else in the world."

Plans to build the first carbon-neutral city in one of the world's biggest hydrocarbon economies have already piqued the interest of governments around the world. The first phase of Masdar's six square kilometre development is to be completed early next year, beginning the desert city's expansion to house 40,000 residents and 50,000 daily commuters working at some 1,500 green energy firms. The project won global recognition in June when it was chosen to host the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency.

Masdar "demonstrates to the world that a city - especially a new city like those satellite towns being created all over the world - can actually be based on green technology," said Dr Mutizwa-Mangiza. "This example deserves to be highlighted a bit more." The agency's 306-page report describes the "important first example of a city built from scratch" using solar photovoltaic plants, geothermal heat pumps, wind farms and electric automated pod cars in an urban area using "100 per cent renewable energy".