Sunday, January 13, 2008

Guess Who's Building a Green City"

The whole effort is being dubbed Masdar—"the source" in Arabic—a reference to the sun. The city is also called Masdar and will look like a cross between The Arabian Nights and The Jetsons. It will draw on traditional Arabic architecture, using wind towers to funnel air through the city as natural air conditioning and splashing fountains in courtyards to dampen the dry heat. Like an ancient casbah, the buildings will be huddled close together on narrow streets to reduce demand for cooling power during Abu Dhabi's 120-degree summer days. But Masdar will also incorporate the most advanced technology available for refrigeration and other systems. "We will need the most extreme energy-efficiency standards from the beginning," explains Al Jaber.

Power will come mainly from solar, not wind—a logical choice given the region's blazing sun and fickle breezes. Visitors will have to park their Ferraris and Porsches outside the city walls. Once inside, they will walk, bicycle, or ride small, driverless vehicles running on paths underground.

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