Visiting an Environmentally – Friendly Park – Exploring Umm Al Emarat Park in Abu Dhabi
29 March 2020
StartAD LIVE Mentoring Sessions by Eedama: Environmentally Responsible Businesses
14 April 2020

Tailored Learning Experiences with NYUAD

At Eedama, we start any tour or workshop by asking what you need and what you’re looking forward to learning. It is important to us that you achieve the learning goals you set, and we aim to help you do that, no matter the diversity of these goals. For example, we hosted New York University of Abu Dhabi in January, where we explored different aspects of Masdar City in relation to the topic studied by the students in class. We did multiple sessions to cover various topics such as: General sustainability, Solar Photovoltaic Energy, Mobility and Transport as well as Social Justice and Sustainability.

In each of the sessions, the students explored Masdar City from a different perspective with an Eedama expert. All students got to see and understand the city’s general sustainability features and design, and how the city functions as a whole. This would be the first part of the day, where they would get the general tour of Masdar, before diving deep into their targeted topic.

The first group of students wanted to learn about solar arrays and other energy systems so we highlighted the energy use, energy saving and various passive and active strategies at Masdar City in order to completely avoid using energy (such as using light wells to bring light into buildings or underground levels). We had some discussions on how a desert country can use its energy resources rationally and sustainably: Focusing the use of fossil fuels on building infrastructure and long lasting devices and tools that, if possible, will not need to be fueled anymore (passive designs, buildings, sustainable neighborhoods…), and using to the maximum renewable resources in order to fuel those devices and tools.

After the discussion session, we visited a real life example of a long lasting infrastructure that is using a renewable and non polluting resource as fuel: The 10MW solar photovoltaic electricity plant of Masdar City. The power plant uses several types of photovoltaic panels: mono and multi crystalline silicon as well as thin film cells (Cadmium Telluride based). Visitors were able to recognize those various types and to see how the local environmental conditions impact the panels. They discussed the best strategies to maintain and clean panels, balancing between the interest for a high efficiency while keeping low costs, as in a modern economy, the actual and main indicator is the consumer price/unit of electric energy: the kWh. Participants had the opportunity to discuss that in a unique setting combining a real solar power plant fueling a sustainable neighborhood.

The next group of students were interested in learning about sustainable transportation (e.g., smart shuttles; bike sharing; electric scooters) and other aspects of sustainable design (e.g., green buildings, low carbon designs) present at Masdar City. After the general tour. We conducted a Future of Transportation Activity where we tested various transportation means of Masdar: walking, cycling small electric vehicles, large electric buses, discussed transportation means and calculated their energy efficiency.

The images below are from the sessions with NYUAD, the first one is during the Masdar tour, taken in front of the wind tower, highlighting passive design strategies. The second one is in front of the PV farm where we discussed the PV panels used in Masdar and their mechanism.
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For the final group session, the goal was to discuss the Technocratic Visions of Urban Sustainability. Our session tackled urban sustainability and its link to environmental justice, and discussed how Masdar was designed in an office, purely technocratically, and how actual users are not at all using it the way technocrats thought. We also learned how an environmentally fair city could look like and tried to link it to the design of Masdar City itself.

An interesting topic discussed in these sessions, and covered for the first time with Eedama, was the aspect of Social Sustainability in Masdar! Students were exposed to the reality of user engagement and justice living in a sustainable city and came to a realization that Masdar lacks some aspects of social sustainability in areas such as occupant awareness and comfort. The session concluded design solutions and alternative strategies in order to solve such issues.

Going back to their classes, the students would design their own sustainable cities, using Masdar as one possible reference. The sessions inspired the students to think about both low and high tech ways to harmonize buildings and homes with their environment. Through our presentation and discussion of fostering well-being and communication, the students formed a deeper understanding about the connection between these aspects and the environmental issues. The image below shows the social sustainability discussion being held.
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Click here for more information about our Masdar Tour.

Mariam Radwan
Mariam Radwan
Sustainability Instructor at Eedama.

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