Located 17 km from downtown Abu Dhabi, Masdar City is one of the world’s most sustainable cities. The city embodies the latest innovations in sustainable development, while offering a vibrant urban space for its communities, businesses, and research organisations. It will also feature the world’s first net zero energy mosque.

One of Masdar City’s largest challenges was finding a way to reduce its operational carbon while controlling its heat, as temperatures in the United Arab Emirates can reach over 50°C in the summer. In response to this, the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology and the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (ADFEC) is researching a new sun shading technology in collaboration with Airshade, Metadecor and Arup. Our team is also assessing the city’s feasibility and supporting its journey to net-zero.

Our specialists, from a range of disciplines, assisted Masdar City in exploring new and more innovative techniques for managing heat and minimising energy use. This work will help to lay sustainable and robust foundations that enable the city to provide a comfortable, convenient, and resilient space for future generations.

Innovative sun shading

Our team supported the research and development of a new sun shading technology for Masdar City’s buildings. While sun shading systems are typically powered by electric actuators, this technology automatically opens and closes its shades in response to air pressure changes resulting from temperature variation. Designed for both new build and retrofit applications, the system consumes no energy and will play an important role in the city’s green objectives. By reducing the need for air conditioning and other active cooling methods, this sun shading innovation will help to cut the city’s carbon emissions.

The technology will also create a unique aesthetic effect for onlookers to enjoy, as well as offering a more comfortable acoustic environment than fans, air conditioning units, and other forms of electrified plant, which are often loud when in operation.

While Masdar City will be the first to use this sun shading approach, it is unlikely to be the last. The technology’s potential for reducing carbon emissions and noise pollution is evident, and its mass-scale adoption could transform the way we design buildings on a global scale.

Sustainability training and development

While Masdar City's physical structures raise the bar for sustainable design, its legacy will also be shaped by the people that operate its infrastructure and logistics. Understanding this, ADFEC asked our team in 2011 to develop a sustainability training workshop for all of its employees. 

Over the course of three days, we completed a host of training sessions that showed employees how to apply sustainable practices to their day-to-day jobs and responsibilities. With this training, Masdar City can ensure that its daily operations are as sustainable as its design principles. Following this, Masdar City recently received LEED Gold ratings for operations and maintenance for three of its older buildings.