MC2 Headquarters ... innovative solar PV panel canopy.

One of Abu Dhabi’s first net-zero energy office buildings is expected to open this year in Masdar City, a world-class technology and innovation hub and a pioneering sustainable community in the UAE capital.

Part of the ambitious Masdar City Square (MC2) development that comprises seven single- and multi-tenant office buildings and a parking facility, the MC2 Headquarters building will be immediately identifiable by its innovative solar photovoltaic panel canopy. It will use no more energy than it produces by integrating energy efficiency-focused design and systems and renewable energy technologies.

The six other buildings of the MC2 development, which covers an area of 29,000 sq m and offering a gross floor area (GFA) of 50,000 sq m, will also be built to the highest green construction specifications. These buildings will have an energy reduction of over 55 per cent.

MC2 will be located adjacent to Masdar City’s existing development centered around the Mohammed bin Zayed University for Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI) and the Siemens Middle East Headquarters. It will incorporate the existing International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) Headquarters and will include courtyards, a daycare, an amphitheatre plaza, shaded pedestrian boulevards, a fitness centre, a meditation room, and more.

Work on Masdar City Square began early in 2022, with the development being constructed to LEED Platinum green building certification standards, WELL Gold standards for human health and wellbeing in the built environment, and Four-Pearl PBRS (Pearl Building Rating System) Estidama standards for the development of sustainable buildings. LEED Platinum is the highest certification provided by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design programme. WELL Gold is the second highest certification provided by WELL, the world’s first building standard that focuses exclusively on human health and wellness. Estidama PBRS is the green building rating system developed by the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council.

The primary design focus is to embrace passive architectural measures, which in turn are supplemented by technology. The MC2 project will continue to add to Masdar’s impressive collection of sustainable projects and will become the new benchmark for sustainable workplace campuses.

The Masdar City Square Headquarters at the centre of the project integrates solar panels into an architectural shading system over the entrance of the building and is on target to achieve Zero Energy certification by the International Living Future Institute.

Global architectural and consulting firm Woods Bagot is handling the project’s design and construction supervision consultancy, while Faithful+Gould, a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group (now AtkinsRealis), is the project management consultant. Woods Bagot previously designed the Irena Headquarters in Masdar City.

The masterplan of MC2 combines the ‘Masdar Building Grid’ and the ‘Environmental Grid’ to shape a bespoke campus. At the intersection of these grids lies a rich design scheme that creates a sculpted public realm that is shaded from the harsh desert sun and gently cooled with breezes and a series of sustainable commercial office buildings, Woods Bagot says on its website.

“We set out to create an attitude, a way to work, a movement – more than architecture. What followed is an innovative campus that places wellness and sustainability at the centre of every element. The MC2 design is defined by the Masdar City vision – vibrant, connected to light, air and renewable energy, sheltered from the sun, cooled by the winds, authentic, earthy, and a place to push the boundaries of sustainable workplaces,” it says.

ASGC Construction is the main contractor for the MC2 project. ASGC’s scope includes civil works for all eight buildings (including the seven MC2 office buildings and a car-park building) and finishing works for four buildings and all public areas, entrance and lift lobbies, washrooms, prayer rooms, changing rooms and bike storage area. The works also include associated infrastructure and MEP works.

The innovative MC2 buildings add to Masdar City’s legacy as a regional pioneer in net zero and green construction.