Did you get it? Let me try to make it easy. Think of a city in the future with a sustainable, zero-carbon, zero-waste ecology! A city with an underground PRT (Personal Rapid Transport) system which is powered by solar energy with batteries. About 80% of water in this city is recycled and water is re-used as many times as possible. For instance, one project involves capturing the leftovers of watering crops, called irrigation recovery. It works like this: After irrigation water goes through the top 2 or 3 feet of soil and meets plants’ needs, underground collection systems recover whatever’s left over. That water then can be used to irrigate on another day or directed to another purpose. All waste in this city is converted to energy and reduced to zero.

Welcome to Masdar city in Abu Dhabi. Masdar is the centerpiece of emirate Abu Dhabi’s plans to get into the renewable energy market, a hedge against the day its oil wells run dry. You can view a computer animation of the design here, which depicts narrow streets shaded by buildings that, though modern, capture the flavor of an ancient Arabic city. It turns out that copying those historic designs will help planners reach ambitious energy goals.

Masdar plans to recover nutrients from all waste and use it to create soil that can then be used as part of the landscaping requirement. And also a component of the sewer sludge will again go for a waste-to-power scheme. This strategy to reuse or recycle as much as possible permeates the planning. The idea is to build a city that will have no carbon footprint. But because a lot construction equipment uses gas, some CO2 will be released into the atmosphere during that phase. That will have to be offset by planting trees or putting surplus solar energy back into Abu Dhabi’s national power grid.

Skeptics say reducing Masdar City’s total carbon footprint to zero will be difficult, if not impossible. Besides, they say, Masdar would not encompass the millions of others guzzling gas in the United Arab Emirates.

The plan is to build Masdar City in record time (by 2018). The first buildings are scheduled to be up by the end of this summer. It will also be the location of a university, the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (MIST), which will be assisted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).Whether the city will meet its ambitious energy goals is uncertain. But even the skeptics admit it’s worth a try. You can find more interesting information here.

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