The climate and construction codes are changing in a drastic way. We are beginning to hear about building codes around the world that demand that all buildings built by a certain date, whether that is 2025 or 2030, be zero carbon or have zero carbon emissions. This is critical in China where the air quality is questionable on even the best days. Japan is also instituting those rules to provide for the future of their countrymen.
The United Arab Emirates, however, got what they thought was a jump on the world when, in 2006, the government commissioned Lord Norman Foster and his team to build the first pilot “Zero Carbon Emission” city to be known as Masdar or “Source.” It was designed and planned to create a leading edge city for 50,000 in the desert on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi near the airport. Lord Foster planned for it to become a template for other “Zero Carbon” cities around the world. Construction began in 2008, but in a recent article in The Guardian some critics are calling this possibly the World’s First “Green Ghost Town.”
The original completion date was 2016, but that date has now been pushed back to 2030, and the government has dropped the “zero carbon” goal in light of the fact that only 5% of the city has been built and only 300 residents, all of them university students, reside in this “new town.”
It appears that “Net Zero” at the urban scale might be more difficult and expensive than even one of the richest countries in the world anticipated.