While it’s the U.S. Green Building Council that sets the standard for LEED certification, two cities in the Middle East are quickly emerging as the world leaders in sustainable cities, or cities with a goal of net zero energy and waste. That means they produce as much energy, resources and waste as they consume.
Population and economic growth due to the Middle East’s oil reserves are the primary drivers in its aggressive push toward sustainability. With population expected to grow exponentially in the next 25 years, sustainable cities can offset the gradual depletion of the natural resources and with them, the region’s primary export and profit center. Here’s a look at innovative projects currently evolving in the region.
Dubai Sustainable City
The ambitious Dubai Sustainable City project will begin construction in July 2013. The project has reportedly reserved 70% total space for green developments. Included in the development plan are villas, an environmental sciences university, a school, a commercial center, a shopping mall, a luxury hotel and resort, a planetarium and a grass amphitheater.
Known for its oil wealth and jet set lifestyle, Abu Dhabi has taken dramatic steps toward sustainability in its Abu Dhabi Environment Vision 2030. The project will focus on developing and enforcing policies regarding sustainability issues such as climate change, clean air, reduced noise pollution, water resources, biodiversity, and waste management.
A sustainable city within Abu Dhabi, the first six buildings in Masdar City were completed late last year. Once the city is completed in 2025, it will play home to 40,000 residents and 50,000 commuters. The finished city is expected to be the new global leader in renewable energy and clean technologies.
Although Masdar’s striking design hoped to echo traditional Middle Eastern architectural style, Architect Norman Foster acknowledged that function was as much a factor as fashion. Abu Dhabi’s intense heat, that frequently tops 150 degrees, posed the biggest problem for energy efficiency. Foster studied methods used by ancient cities in the region to control climate. He then bolstered these techniques with modern technology, using solar power to make Masdar feel at as much as 70 degrees cooler.
As these two sustainable cities in the United Arab Emirates gain the attention of the global green building community, we hope many more regions will adopt strategies for creating future sustainable cities in their own neck of the woods.