The 100,000sqm Masdar headquarters building has been designed by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture to be the world's first large-scale positive-energy building, using sustainable design strategies and systems to produce more energy than it consumes. It will house Masdar's corporate offices and the secretariat of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), as well as retail and other commercial office space.
Once installed, the 15,590 photovoltaic panels on the roof will form one of the largest roof-mounted PV panel arrays in the world and – along with building-integrated PV installed on some facades – is expected to provide 103% of the energy needed to power the building on an annual basis. Covering nearly the area of four football pitches, the array will generate approximately 5.5 GWh of renewable energy annually, displacing approximately 4,400 metric tons of CO2e annually. A building-integrated photovoltaic laminate system on the east and west façades will generate the equivalent of 2% of the building’s energy requirements. The building’s design, which has won several international awards, is inspired by traditional architectural features of the region – including wind towers, water features and vegetation.
One of the key distinguishing features of the building is it high-performance “sawtooth” facade that allows access to daylight and views while mitigating glare and solar heat gain. The design of the wall orients the highest-transparency vision glazing (windows) toward cardinal north or south, where daylight is at its highest angles and can best be redirected into the interiors; the east- and west-facing non-vision glazing features a 16.44mm thick insulating unit. This façade will result in more daylight, better views, a lower cooling load and increased energy generation. The sawtooth facade is also more structurally sound and sustainable than alternatives, reducing the structural steel required for mullions.
The building's signature architectural feature is a collection of 11 wind cones that provide natural ventilation and cooling (drawing warm air up to roof level, where wind moves it away) and form oasis-like interior courtyards at ground level. The cones maximise diffused natural daylight throughout the building, leading to an anticipated energy savings of approximately 3.5%. The operable windows on the cones also allow occupants the option of naturally ventilating interior spaces. On the roof, shaded by the solar canopy, workers and visitors will enjoy communal outdoor green spaces.