Woods Bagot unveils renewable energy HQ in Masdar City, Abu Dhabi

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A new headquarters building for the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is the first to have achieved Four Pearl Estidama PBRS rating for both design and construction.

Global architectural practice Woods Bagot designed the structure in Masdar City, Abu Dhabi, a focal point for environmentally friendly design in the UAE.

The IRENA HQ has also achieved a reduction in energy demand by 42% compared to global standards and includes 1,000m2 of rooftop photovoltaic solar panels supplying electricity to the building.


Potable water use has been reduced by 50% through utilisation of high performance flow and flush technology. Finally, diversion of over 93% of construction waste from landfill reduced the long-term environmental impacts associated with construction, waste collection, transport and disposal

Woods Bagot said the focus of the design has been to create a “highly-sustainable Four Pearl Estidama-rated commercial building which exemplifies the overall development of Masdar City and embodies the Estidama four pillars of sustainability – social, environmental, economic and cultural.”

Richard Fenne, senior associate at the firm, said: “As design architect for the new IRENA HQ building, Woods Bagot relished the opportunity to conceive a landmark project within Masdar City that could become a model for sustainable, global commercial buildings.

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“This project provided us with the opportunity to build on our wide-ranging experience worldwide of designing sustainable buildings to operate in challenging climates, both in the Middle East and across Asia Pacific.

“Through a truly integrated design process with both the client and the project team we have been able to realise a commercially viable, exemplar office building with the highest Estidama rating awarded to date for a commercial project in Abu Dhabi.”

Masdar City said the development reflected the aims and objectives of its overall green design and operation ethos.

Anthony Mallows, director, said: “We commend Woods Bagot on achieving the demanding design criteria for the IRENA headquarters and delivering what is considered the most sustainable office building in the UAE. Masdar City, Abu Dhabi’s growing sustainability hub, is an ideal location for IRENA to pursue its mission to advance renewable energy globally.”

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Rob Cooke, associate director at BuroHappoldm the engineers on the project and Emirates Green Building Council technical committee leader, emphasised key factors in designing the structure

He said: “Rigorous energy modelling has ensured that the building performs 42% more efficiently than the baseline ASHRAE 90.1 energy model which is an internationally-accepted standard. Examples of energy saving initiatives used include rooftop PV (photovoltaic) panels so that the building itself generates nearly 9% of its energy requirements.

“We have also incorporated an air conditioning system to cool incoming fresh air, which recovers up to 75% of the energy released into the exhaust air. This uses high efficiency rotary wheels to reclaim the energy which is typically wasted with a traditional HVAC design.”

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