Smart cities lookout

This is the first post in a series on Smart Cities, Julie Claar and Dana Cary are with our Firm as interns in the summermonths and will deliver their findings on our blog.

   Julie Claar, HOLTROP S.L.P. Transaction & Business Law 

Masdar City

This city is located in Abu Dhabi, is 6 square kilometers, and will cost around US$20 billion but will be the first of its kind, a zero carbon, zero waste city powered by only renewable energy. It was thought to be the trial for the self sustaining cities we will eventually need once all our resources are up. It will be the home to 40,000 residents and the workplace to potentially 60,000 commuters. The master plan details six main goals.

The first is to orient the city grid to minimize the heat permeated into the walls and maximize the cool breezes at night. Second is to integrate the community so that work, entertainment, and home are in such close proximity to one another that you won´t need transportation (there are no cars allowed, but public transportation is provided within city limits), It is a very pedestrian focused place and has several urban areas to enjoy the fresh air. They will not have any buildings that are taller than five stories and want to maximize the quality of the inhabitants´ lives and work with the lowest possible environmental footprint.

They have an area they call the Economic Zone which has specified policies unique to this city. These would include 0% on import tariffs, no currency restrictions, 100% foreign ownership, 0% taxes on both companies and individuals and many more. They also stress that the companies and organizations that will be allowed to work here are only companies that are as committed to the environment as they are. To apply to move your business there, it is a 7 day application process and you must be present in the city during that entire time.

Currently the only area that is finished is the University that specializes in sustainability. In the 2010-2011 school year, the University housed 153 students from 32 different countries. The project was meant to be completed in 2015 however when the economic crisis hit, there were a lack of funds. They also grossly underestimated the cost of the project and the time needed. After 6 years of construction, the 1st phase out of 7 should be completed in 2013. Unanticipated difficulty with the renewable energy was a setback as well. The hope is to have this remarkable city up and running by 2025. A spokesperson commented that they are not to be worried about a timeframe, they are just concerned with the quality of the result.

This link is a rendering of what the city is supposed to look like at completion.

You can also go to this link and see pictures of the finished campus under "Explore Masdar City" and then "Built Environment".