Look: UAE to get region's first net-zero energy mosque

The construction of the mosque, which is set to break ground next year, will join three other sustainability projects at Masdar City in Abu Dhabi

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Ashwani Kumar

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Supplied photos
Supplied photos

Published: Mon 4 Dec 2023, 12:24 PM

Last updated: Mon 4 Dec 2023, 10:24 PM

The region’s first net-zero energy mosque will be coming up in Masdar City – a sustainable urban community and innovation hub in Abu Dhabi – a top official announced.

“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,” Mohamed Al Breiki, the executive director of sustainable development at Masdar City, said.

The construction of a net-zero energy mosque, which is set to break ground next year, will join three other sustainability projects 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.”

The 2,349sqm structure, with a capacity for 1,300 worshippers, will produce at least 100 per cent of the energy it needs over the course of a year using 1,590sqm of on-site PV panels.

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.

“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.

The mosque’s total energy requirements were reduced by 35 per cent compared to international baselines using passive design, an architectural approach that responds to environmental conditions.

“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,” Wilgen said.

Multi-faceted design

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.”

The project, like others, will see at least 70 per cent of construction waste 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 per cent.

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 US Green Building Council, as well as Estidama 4-Pearl, the UAE’s highest green building certification. It will be designed to achieve a Well Gold rating, which prioritises occupant well-being.

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 next year, 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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