No Waste, No Carbon: A completely sustainable urban development.

Photo by BASF - The Chemical Company |

The goal of any environmentalist or ecologist is to preserve the state of the natural world by reducing our harmful influence on non-renewable resources, including fresh water and fossil fuels.  As often as we hear about why we should take public transportation, walk or bike to our destinations, refrain from drinking bottled water, and countless other small-scale environmentally friendly practices, there still seems to be an immense amount of turmoil over a ‘doomed’ human population due to our overconsumption of resources.

Evidently, our dependence on this matter lies in our hopes that global-scale companies will enforce the necessary turn-around technologies and protocols that will restrict our degradation of the Earth. A unique example of this is Masdar City – the first completely sustainable development, aimed to house over 50,000 residents.

Masdar is an organization associated with developing, commercializing and deploying solutions of renewable energy and clean technology. In 2008, Masdar established the concept of a city that will be iconic for sustainable technology. Already well underway, Masdar City is being constructed in near Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. This is a world-renowned clean technology hub with the aims of being powered entirely by renewable energy, producing a low carbon footprint in the construction and operation of the city, providing leading research in alternative and sustainable energies, while offering a home for 50,000 residents. 

Standard cities generate the majority of their power from distant power stations run by coal, crude oil, gas or nuclear fuels. These power-generating approaches take an alternate approach in Masdar City, where methods are restricted to photovoltaic technology, concentrated solar power, converting waste to energy, geothermal, desalination and water recycling processes. The energy sources have been intricately developed to transition from our current global practices. With this unique attempt at living ‘green’, the city’s 6-kilometre-squared development requires $22 billion dollars to follow through.  As steep as this may sound, I think the astronomical benefits will be well worth the price for the learning experience of what changes such a city can bring.

Assuming the project is successful, Masdar City’s completion date is schedule for 2025 (a revised deadline from 2016; the deadline was extended less than a month ago).

Another somewhat disappointing revision is the modifications to the original plan for ‘Personal Rapid Transit’ incorporating podcars which would serve as automated modes of transport on a railway grid, accessible within 250 metres of any point in the city. The change from this method of shuttling was replaced with the permission of electric cars; still a vast improvement from the gasoline guzzlers used everywhere currently.

Despite the financial drawbacks and slight imperfections in the design of this phenomenal city, the final product is a very reasonable incentive for the conservation and sustainability it offers. With the proper collective global funding, is this an idea that can be branched to other major cities in the world? Masdar’s investment could be a revolution towards extending our lifetime on Earth by dampening our already heavy footprint through implementing the exact technologies promising Masdar City a clean, sustainable future. Personally I have the feeling that living in a world like this would be far more satisfying.