Abu Dhabi

Soon, energy-efficient villas in Abu Dhabi

Anjana Sankar/Abu Dhabi
Filed on February 7, 2017
Soon, energy-efficient villas in Abu Dhabi

(Photos By Ryan Lim)

The eco-villa is the pilot project of Masdar that incorporates water and energy-saving technologies and design into living

Abu Dhabi's energy efficient company Masdar said it has plans to construct more energy-efficient houses in the emirate.

"We are in discussion with other real estate developers to implement the concept of eco-villas outside the Masdar city," Yousef Baselaib, executive-director, Sustainable Real Estate at Masdar City, told KhaleeTimes.

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The eco-villa is the pilot project of Masdar that incorporates water and energy-saving technologies and design into living. It is the first villa to receive a 4-Pearl rating according to the Abu Dhabi urban Planning council's Estidama Pearl Building Rating System.

Currently, there are around 2,000 apartments that are either under construction or in design at the city, bringing the residential population to a total of 3,500 in the next three years.

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'We are very much aligned with the vision of Abu Dhabi government to increase energy efficiency and promote sustainability. We are trying to help both the government and residents reduce their energy bills. Instead of having houses that consumer energy, we want to build houses that will produce energy," said Baselaib.

The future eco-villa construction plans, he said is also a business opportunity for local builders as Masdar will source out 90 per cent of materials locally.


Sustainable living is not a dream anymore

Sustainable living has become a reality in Abu Dhabi. It is cast in concrete, literally, and sits on a 900sqm plot at Masdar City.

Welcome to eco-villa, the world's first energy efficient house that produces as much energy as it consumes.

"We call it Net Zero energy concept," Chris Chi Lon Wan, Head, Design Management at Masdar, told Khaleej Times during an exclusive tour of the structure on Tuesday.

"People misconstrue energy-efficiency living to be equivalent to zero use of electricity. But what it does is use electricity from the grid and feed back the same amount," explained Wan. The villa is connected to the national grid and even as it uses energy from the grid, the energy generated from the villa's roof-top solar panels are given back to the grid. After a 12-month cycle, it is expected to supply 40,000kWh of electricity to the national grid.

Not an ordinary villa

From outside, the villa looks quite ordinary. There are no outstanding aesthetic features, here. But the cream colour exterior, its blue and grey colours and clean cuts and straight lines of its architectural design have more than what meets the eye. It is futuristic, yet family-friendly. The open-roofed and spacious courtyard is flooded with sunlight. The glass windows and panels allow the sun to swoop down into every nook and corner of this 400sqm house.

PHOTOS: Take a trip inside Masdar's Eco-Villa

The ground floor houses a living and dining area, a bedroom, a majlis that opens to the compound, a detached kitchen, storeroom, laundry and a maid's quarters with attached toilet.

There are three bedrooms, all ensuite, on the first floor plus a family area and open terrace.

"We asked many Emirati families one question: How do you like to live? The villa is designed based on the feedback we received," said Wan.

"We wanted to test a villa that is not just green but fits in with the concept of Emirati living economically, environmentally and socially as the three pillars of sustainability," said Wan.

Energy efficient design

The architect says there is no one single technology that explains why the villa is energy efficient.

"It is a combination of many factors," says Wan. For example, the plot sits on a north-south orientation because most of the sun's impact comes from the east and west direction. "So we have deliberately reduced windows in this direction to keep the heat off the building."

To ace the energy efficiency, the villa has also used many smart fixtures and fittings like water-efficiency pipes taps, LED bulbs and high- thermal insulation walls that will keep the building cool.

According to him, the eco-villa uses about 72 per cent less electricity and 35 per cent less water than a standard villa of the same size.

The villa is also water efficient by way of recycling water collected from air conditioners for irrigating the garden.


Human test

The eco-villa's green claims will be put to test when an Emirati family moves in by the end of March this year.

"That is when we will really understand the impact of sustainable living - based both on energy and water consumption.

Masdar's sustainability team will monitor the villa's energy, water and waste management performance, and accordingly the design will be further refined," said Wan.

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