Construction Begins On Masdar City’s Big Green Headquarters

Construction has officially begun on what has been characterized as one of the most advanced, sustainable multi-use complexes in the United Arab Emirates, Masdar City’s new headquarters complex, which will also house the  the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Conceived of as the cornerstone of Masdar City – the special economic zone, clean-technology cluster and low-carbon city within Abu Dhabi — the project is targeting four-pearl certification under the rigorous Estidama Pearl Building Rating System for energy efficient buildings.

The complex will spread 32,00 square meters (around 344,445 square feet) of interior space over three buildings, which will be fitted with 1,000 square-meters (around 10,764 square feet) of rooftop photovoltaic solar panels. Green materials for the project will be sourced from Abu Dhabi’s sustainable supply chain, and include low-carbon cement, high-recycled-content aluminium, recycled steel and sustainably sourced timber, among others. The complex will consumer just 50 percent of the water typically used by a development of this size and function.

Masdar headquarters construction begins

image via Masdar

The buildings will share a community courtyard that will connect offices with spaces to shop, dine, walk, “and experience the modern, sustainable lifestyle exemplified by Masdar City.”

The members of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) — whose goal is to “accelerate the pace at which renewable energy is deployed and integrated around the globe” — announced last year that it had chosen Masdar as its official base of operations. Masdar has been conceived of as a living laboratory providing urban infrastructure as a real-time test bed for companies interested in implementing new energy solutions for cities. The goal of the ultra-green mega-development — which has thus far attracted partners ranging from GE to Fraunhofer Gesellschaft to the Scottish government — is to accelerate the research and development process on sustainable city tech, as well as commercialization.

The Masdar corporation and IRENA headquarters complex will be conveniently located alongside other a couple of other key developments within Masdar City. These include the expansion of the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology and the Middle East headquarters of German renewable energy giant Siemens.

One of the reasons Masdar City has proven so attractive to international organizations with a stake in green tech is the fact that foreign companies can own buildings and land here with no local partners. Other business benefits include zero income and corporate taxes, and no currency restrictions. The idea behind this “special economic zone” is to secure international investment in the region’s growing clean technology and renewable energy market by setting up a streamlined approach that will make it easy for companies to set up operations in Abu Dhabi.

Brookfield Multiplex was awarded the design and construction contract on the new Masdar and IRENA headquarters complex. Completion of the project is set for summer of 2014.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.

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