The Abu Dhabi Eco Park master plan represents the framework for a new urban community, and a roadmap for how this land will be transformed into a model of sustainable living. The sustainability plan, closely modeled on the One Planet Living guiding principles, lays out the vision, strategies, and actions necessary to create an environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable development for the enjoyment of residents, visitors, and neighboring communities.
The redevelopment of this land and sensitive restoration of the local mangrove environments provide an unprecedented opportunity to create an exemplary model of sustainable living. A new mixed-use neighborhood, organic and hydroponic farm, eco-hotel, and environmental education center incorporate best practices in smart urban design, low impact development, and green building. This 111 hectare site will be transformed from an underutilized zone adjacent to the raised highway of Al Salam Street into a vibrant, livable community of 8,000 residents, and a regional destination where walking, cycling, and shared low-impact vehicles serve as the dominant forms of transportation.
Vast areas are planned to be turned into green assets for the enjoyment of local residents and regional and international visitors, and to adhere to tested sustainable site strategies. Along the Coastal Zone, a restored mangrove edge will be established, and a boardwalk created to allow movement within this zone of zero irrigation. Within the adjacent Desert Zone, native vegetation, grass stabilized dunes, and pervious pavement with high recycled content provide a buffer between the townhouses and apartment blocks.
The central Canal Zone has richer plant diversity with higher irrigation requirements that are satisfied with reclaimed stormwater and recycled gray water. The canal itself uses water drawn from the existing water channel by means of solar-powered pumps. The Courtyards, sheltered by the roof structures, are minimally planted and employ a variety of pervious ground surfaces. The Frontage Zone has a pronounced vegetative buffer and a dense reuse of existing palm trees presently on an area of the site. Green roofs to minimize solar heat gain and roof gardens sustained by minimal irrigation and runoff from the PV roof cleaning are incorporated throughout the site.
The building designs are predicated on a response to the existing man-made and natural conditions. More than any other determining factor, the desire to harvest the cooling effects of the predominant wind from the Northwest influenced the linear parallel arrangement within the neighborhoods. The stepped profile to the roof forms, raised wind scoops, and open community zones between the blocks all contribute to maximizing the value of the air movement. Solar orientation has been addressed with the roof forms, narrow distances between buildings, solar chimneys, balcony projections, recessed glazing, light colors, and planting.
An important basis of the community design is the premise that through education, architecture, systems, and technology the base energy requirement can be reduced by at least sixty percent of business-as-usual needs. This goal is to be achieved by reducing the energy demand in transport and infrastructure within the site boundaries. The intention is also to maximize the available supply of renewable energy, primarily utilizing the photovoltaic cells composed on the sheltering roofs which are calculated to contribute thirty-five percent of the energy needed. Wind turbines should provide an additional fifteen percent. Biomass electricity generation is under investigation to achieve zero carbon.
Beyond the residential community are the National Ecological Park and the Organic Farm. The Ecological Park intends first to secure the existing mangroves habitat, and then restore adjacent areas. The Ecological Center is to be developed to attract a wide range of visitors ranging from professional botanists to school children. The Farm is planned as a commercially viable horticultural facility to provide at least fifty percent of the community’s needs, and to utilize advanced food product technologies for a hot, arid climate.
The primary of three controlled vehicular entrances to below grade parking that limit on-site movement to walking, bicycling, electric carts and solar-powered boats.
The street edges of the residential units are clad in photo-voltaic cells on an arced vertical wall that acts as an acoustical and privacy barrier to the adjacent highway.
The Environmental Awareness Training Center on the left and Mangrove and Marine Wildlife Visitor Center on the right are only accessible by boat. Exhibits, labs, classrooms provide ongoing study of, and information on, the natural environment and native habitats. From here walking trails and kayaking channels wind through the Mangrove Park.
The following attributes address One Planet Living Principles, which are highlighted iin the illustration below:
Implementation of energy efficiency in buildings and infrastructure to reduce usage by 60%. On-site energy generation of between 50 and 100% of average annual requirement from PV’s, Wind Turbines, Biomass Plant, Solar Hot Water Generation.
Reduction of average waste generation from 840kg per person per annum to less tha 550 kg. 70% plus recycling and composting of waste. Plan for incremental betterment until zero waste to landfill is achieved.
Local storage capacity for recyclables.
On-site elimination of private vehicle transport with corresponding major reduction of CO2 emissions by use of low-impact shared electric carts, solar powered boats, community shared bicycles, shaded walkways, underground delivery paths from a central receiving area. Ferries, buses, and a light rail system will ultimately link the community to the larger city.
LOCAL AND SUSTAINABLE MATERIALS
Carbon emissions are minimized by using local construction materials including aggregate, sand, cement, and stone, and locally manufactured building products. More than 80% of delivery will be by barge to further lessen the carbon footprint.
LOCAL AND SUSTAINABLE FOOD
The substitution of imported food with food locally produced will result in significant CO2 reduction per kg. Advanced food production technologies, including hydroponic greenhouses, will maximize yields per hectare. The various approaches to farming will act as an ancillary teaching vehicle to the programs within the Mangrove Park.
Institution of a water consumption reduction strategy that limits demand to less than 160L/person/day and irrigation to less than 8L/square meter/day – achieves zero reticulation losses – and meters 100%of usage throughout the site. Collection of stormwater and capture and reuse of all wastewater for irrigation, heat dissipation, etc.
NATURAL HABITATS AND WILDLIFE
Secure and enhance the existing mangroves habitat and selectively dredge and adapt marine and shore works to create habitats for a wide range of indigenous species.
CULTURE AND HERITAGE
The design pays close attention to not only the traditions but also to what history has taught about the importance of wind and shade, water preservation, solar chimneys, and materiality. As a community that will be home to both Emiraties and Expats – from both western and Islamic cultures – much attention has been given to developing environs within which all will be comfortable.
EQUITY AND FAIR TRADE
The intention is to create a local economy based around the project and integrated with the regional economy which provides employment and training opportunities. By maximizing on-site employment in the retail and sports facilities, in the schools and teaching environments, at the hotel and restaurants, and at the farm – more diversity is attained, and sustainable benefits achieved from less reliance on vehicular travel.
HEALTH AND HAPPINESS
Create an environment that enhances people’s sense of wellbeing. Encourage walking and cycling as means of transport. Provision of publically accessible open space and designation of unencumbered sea water creeks for leisure and recreation.