Cities in the Middle East are quickly emerging as world leaders in sustainability, especially in the areas of net zero energy and waste.
Population and economic growth due to the region’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 their impact on the planet, while minimizing the planet’s impact on them.
Dubai Sustainable City. The ambitious Dubai Sustainable City project will begin construction in July 2013. The project has reportedly reserved 70 percent of the 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.
Abu Dhabi. 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.
Masdar City. The first six buildings in Masdar City were completed late last year. Once the city is completed in 2025, it will host 40,000 residents and 50,000 commuters. The finished city is expected to be the new global leader in renewable energy and clean technologies. It has already earned many awards for its vision and progress.
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 buildings and protected areas feel 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 their own sustainable cities.