Masdar could become global model

The world's first carbon-neutral city, which is being built outside of Abu Dhabi, could be a model for similar cities around the world.

Masdar City, being built outside of Abu Dhabi, will be the world's first zero-carbon emissions development.
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DUBAI // Masdar City, which is being built outside Abu Dhabi as the world's first carbon-neutral city, could become a model for similar cities around the world, the head of a French building group said. Alain Maugard, the president of the Centre Scientifique et Technique du Bâtiment, said the planned zero-waste, zero-emissions city could make cities designed in the past 50 years, such as Abu Dhabi itself, obsolete.

Masdar is a project of the Abu Dhabi Government through Mubadala Development. It will be a dense walled city on the outskirts of the capital and is due for completion in 2013. Private cars will be banned in favour of electric-powered public transport, and energy will be generated by solar power and other renewable sources. Mr Maugard said his group, which specialises in predicting town planning trends of the future, would carefully study the progress of Masdar.

"We will have to question how the city will be interpreted," Mr Maugard said. "This new city is on the outside of the old city. In the future, the older city will be out of step. Masdar is doing the opposite of what the other cities are doing. "The opposite system is clustered with highways and cars. Is it possible to backtrack to the traditional inherited model where cars did not exist? "For something very new we have to ask the question, what will we do with the last 50 years of construction? The sooner we change what we've constructed the better."

Masdar will house 50,000 people and cater for another 40,000 commuting to work in the city. It will use electric vehicles and trains for transport, and its shaded pedestrian areas will make walking in the desert heat more tolerable. Mr Khaled Awad, the director of the property development unit in Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, which is developing Masdar, said other developers are already interested in his company's plans.

"The market will make the choice. Our properties will be the same price as the other properties in Abu Dhabi," Mr Awad said. The Masdar concept could work elsewhere in the world, he added. "If you go to Scotland you will use wave energy, and other countries may use wind energy. We are working with our environment by using solar energy. It's about integrating with the environment." Mr Awad and Mr Maugard were speaking at the open session of the General Assembly of the International Organisation for Standardisation in Dubai, at which sustainable building was discussed.