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Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City announces region’s first net-zero energy mosque

4 Dec 2023

The net-zero energy mosque will join three other net-zero energy projects at Masdar City that are setting a new sustainability standard for urban development

Abu Dhabi, UAE – Masdar City, an Abu Dhabi, UAE-based sustainability and innovation hub dedicated to making all cities a solution to climate change, has announced the region’s first net-zero energy mosque.

Masdar City hopes to set a new industry standard for houses of worship in the region through an innovative design that blends environmental protection with cultural heritage and community building.

“We have designed and created several net-zero energy projects, but this one has particular significance for us and for me personally—particularly given we’re announcing it during COP28,” said Mohamed Al Breiki, the executive director of sustainable development at Masdar City. “It will be more than a gathering place, a community hub, or a place of worship. It will take people on a cultural, spiritual, and environmental journey, serving as a powerful symbol of our commitment as responsible stewards of the earth. This mosque is our gift to the community.”

“Touching the earth lightly and helping others do the same is the very heartbeat of Masdar City,” said Lutz Wilgen, Masdar City’s head of design. “Integrating that heartbeat into a mosque was a unique challenge we were honored to take on. After months of collaboration and consultation, we’ve created a design that seamlessly combines beauty, cultural significance, function, and sustainability.”

The 2,349 square-meter structure, with capacity for 1,300 worshippers, will produce at least 100 percent of the energy it needs over the course of a year using 1,590 m² of on-site PV panels. The mosque’s total energy requirements were reduced by 35 percent compared to international baselines using passive design, an architectural approach that responds to environmental conditions.

The mosque’s main structure will be made primarily of rammed earth, and a series of tiered windows on the roof will allow the space to be illuminated with cascading natural light patterns. Outdoor colonnades will offer shade from the sun as worshippers transition from the outdoors to the sacred inner space.

“Each design choice is multi-faceted,” added Wilgen. “The rammed earth provides outstanding insulation, helping to keep hot air out and cool air in while also fostering a sense of place and belonging. It’s also cost-effective. A series of tiered, operable windows on the ceiling will help inspire wonder and reverence for worshippers while also creating a natural ventilation system that will make air conditioning optional in the winter months. This holistic approach, integrating environmental, social, and economic sustainability, is the essence of our methodology.”

As with all of their new projects, Masdar City will ensure that at least 70 percent of construction waste is diverted from landfills and use local and recycled materials wherever possible to reduce both costs and carbon footprint. Low-flow water fixtures, drought-resistant landscaping, and the use of recycled water for irrigation will reduce water use by 55 percent.

In addition to a Zero-Energy rating from the International Living Future Institute, the building design will target a LEED Platinum rating, the highest international green building certification awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council, as well as Estidama 4-Pearl, the UAE’s highest green building certification. It will also be designed to achieve a WELL Gold rating, which prioritizes occupant well-being.

The mosque will break ground in 2024, with the completion date to be announced in the coming months.

The new mosque is only one of several net-zero energy projects in Masdar City. NZ1, the country’s first net-zero energy commercial building, was unveiled in December, while two additional net-zero energy commercial and residential buildings are under construction: Masdar City Square’s HQ building, which will be complete in 2024, and The Link’s Co-Lab building, a net-zero energy shared working and living space, will be complete in 2025.
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