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The Masdar Institute, the first solar powered building to be fully operational at Masdar City, has been opened in the UAE.
The Masdar Institute is dedicated to researching sustainability and will be used as a pilot test bed for the sustainable technologies that will be implemented in future buildings in Masdar City, a planned city located 17km from Abu Dhabi. The Institute consists of a main building, a knowledge centre, social spaces and students quarters.
The Masdar masterplan, by Foster + Partners, is designed to be carbon neutral, functioning without the use of carbon fuels. The city is a government initiative to investigate sustainable technologies, within an environment that is carbon neutral.
The masterplan incorporates a 10 megawatt solar field that provides 60 percent more energy than is used by the Masdar Institute, with the remaining energy fed back to the Abu Dhabi grid. The campus and facilities are fully powered by renewable solar energy and use 54 percent less potable water and 51 percent less electricity than average buildings in the United Arab Emirates. Approximately 30 percent of the energy used by the campus will be generated by solar panels and 75 percent of the hot water used will be solar heated.
The campus buildings have self-shading facades and are oriented to provide shade and shelter for adjacent buildings and pedestrian streets. Facades of inflatable cushions insulate the laboratories and an interpretation of the regions traditional wind towers provide cooling air currents through the public spaces.
Lord Norman Foster from Foster + Partners said: Many have dreamed of a utopian project that would be solar powered. Todays official opening of the initial stage of the Masdar Institute campus at Masdar City is a first realisation of that quest. Its student community is already active, living and working in their quarters. This community, independent of any power grid, develops a surplus of 60 percent of its own energy needs, processes its waste water on-site which is recycled and pioneers many energy saving concepts. It is a bold experiment which will change and evolve over time already it houses twelve separate research projects with potential world-wide applications.
The building is the first of four planned phases in the development of the Masdar Institute. The second phase is due to start before the end of 2010.