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Bush Previews Abu Dhabi's Planned Carbon Neutral, Car Free City
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, January 14, 2008 (ENS) - President George W. Bush today saw a model of Masdar City - the world's first zero carbon, zero waste, car free city. Plans call for the green, sustainable city to open by 2009 in the desert sands of this federation of Gulf states that have built their wealth on oil and natural gas.

After viewing a model of the proposed city at the Emirates Palace Hotel, President Bush said, "We just heard a briefing about how they're going to construct a city based entirely upon renewable energy. It will be an opportunity to see what works and what won't work, and an opportunity to share their technology with others."

"I appreciate the commitment to conservation and to the environment, and the leadership you've shown here," the president said before leaving for Dubai and Saudi Arabia on the last leg of his Middle East visit that began January 9 in Israel.

President George W. Bush tours the Masdar Exhibition with Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, left, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. (Photo by Eric Draper courtesy the White House)

The electricity for the six square kilometer Masdar City will be generated by photovoltaic panels, while cooling will be provided with concentrated solar power.

Drinking water will be provided through a solar-powered desalination plant. Landscaping within the city and crops grown outside the city will be irrigated with grey water and treated waste water produced by the city's water treatment plant.

Ground breaks for the construction of the city in early 2008 and is scheduled to open late in 2009.

A model of the Masdar City will be unveiled on January 21, at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, billed as the world's largest conference and exhibition on future energy solutions, innovations, investments, and policy.

Masdar City will host the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology; world-class laboratories and research facilities; commercial space for clean-tech companies; light manufacturing facilities and a carefully selected pool of international tenants who will invest, develop, and commercialize advanced energy technologies.

Design and operation of Masdar City must deal with the realities of Abu Dhabi's sub-tropical, arid climate where temperatures range from a low of around 10° Celsuis (50° F), to a high of around 48° C (118° F) in the summer.

The city is part of the Masdar Initiative, Abu Dhabi's investment in the exploration, development and commercialization of future energy sources and clean technology solutions.

"The world needs a portfolio of solutions," said Dr. Sultan al Jaber, CEO of Masdar. "It can no longer be hydrocarbons or renewables. It is a combination of both."

Artist's conception of Masdar City. (Image courtesy the Masdar Initiative)

The Gulf real estate sector must address sustainability issues if it wants to deliver the US$500 billion of developments planned for the next seven years in the region, Dr. al Jaber has said.

The global conservation organization WWF will work with Masdar to ensure the city meets standards of sustainability which include specific targets for the city's ecological footprint.

The cooperation will take place through the "One Planet Living™" program, a global initiative launched by WWF and environmental consultancy BioRegional.

Jean-Paul Jeanrenaud, director of WWF International's One Planet Living initiative, said, "Today Abu Dhabi is embarking on a journey to become the global capital of the renewable energy revolution. Abu Dhabi is the first hydrocarbon-producing nation to have taken such a significant step towards sustainable living."

The principles of the Masdar Target include zero carbon, zero waste, and sustainable transport through facilitating and encouraging the use of public transport, vehicle sharing, supporting low emissions vehicle initiatives.

Sustainable materials will be used and construction specifications are based on high recycled materials content within building products, Forest Stewardship Council certified timber, and bamboo. Energy used to manufacture materials will be tracked and the reduction of embodied energy within materials and throughout the construction process will be encouraged.

Sustainable food will be plentiful in Masdar City and retail outlets will meet targets for supplying organic food and sustainable and or fair trade products

The sustainable water target specifies that per capita water consumption will be at least 50 percent less than the national average and all waste water will be re-used.

All "valuable" wildlife species will be conserved or relocated with positive mitigation targets, according to the Masdar target.

Cultural sustainability will be encouraged so that the architecture will integrate local values, fair wages and working conditions for all workers as defined by international labor standards will apply, and facilities and events will be provided for every demographic group.

Dr. al Jaber said, "We are pleased to be able to work with One Planet Living to make our vision a reality."

"Masdar City will question conventional patterns of urban development, and set new benchmarks for sustainability and environmentally friendly design," the Masdar CEO said. "The students, faculty and businesses located in Masdar City will not only be able to witness innovation first-hand, but they will also participate in its development."

President George W. Bush shakes hands with Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan at the Masdar Exhibit. (Photo by Eric Draper courtesy the White House)

U.S. companies and universities will participate in the building and operation of Masdar. The U.S. company CH2M HILL will be the program manager for the first phase of the development and will be responsible for technology integration and for aligning the efforts of the designers, contractors, and third parties with program goals and standards.

"Masdar is inspiring for its vision, boldness and leadership," said CH2M HILL chief executive Ralph Peterson. "It promises to showcase and accelerate the development and adoption of technologies in renewable energy, energy efficiency, carbon management, waste management and water usage."

"As innovations and applications created by the Masdar initiative take hold, cities around the world will surely benefit, making a great idea a truly transformative idea," Peterson said.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT, and the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company signed an agreement in February 2007 that will allow MIT's Technology and Development Program to help develop the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, the first institution dedicated to research-driven graduate programs in the region.

"MIT faculty and staff will provide advice, scholarly assessment and assistance in connection with the establishment of the Masdar Institute," said MIT Chancellor Phillip Clay. "This includes working with ADFEC to develop collaborative research and create indigenous academic programs, to create a strategy for commercializing Masdar Institute's research results and to build the institute's organizational and administrative capabilities."

The Masdar Institute plans to admit its first postgraduate students in Abu Dhabi in the summer of 2009.

"The Masdar Institute will serve as the nucleus of the Masdar Initiative, feeding it with talent and innovative technologies to enhance economic development and promote new industries using renewable energy and resources in the emirate and the region," said Masdar CEO Dr. al Jaber, who is also the ADFEC. chief executive.

Pooran Desai OBE, co-founder of BioRegional and Technical Director of the One Planet Living Communities program, said Masdar would be the largest and one of the most advanced sustainable communities in the world.

"The vision of One Planet Living is a world where people everywhere can lead happy, healthy lives within their fair share of the Earth's resources," he said. "Masdar gives us a breathtaking insight into this positive, alternative future."

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.

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