(Read more about and see pictures of Masdar here.)
When will America begin to take the energy crisis seriously? It looked like we were beginning when gas was hovering around $4.00 a gallon. People began to drive less, to run multiple errands at a time and to carpool. Average miles driven decreased significantly, and the consumption of energy in the form of gasoline dropped.
Now that gasoline prices have fallen our old habits are beginning to return.
In other countries energy conservation is ahead of us. Way ahead. For instance, in Abu Dhabi the leaders believe that petroleum is a thing of the past. They are building a city named Masdar, which is Arabic for “source.”
Masdar, will be a zero-waste, zero-carbon city, powered mostly by sunlight, which is plentiful in the desert.
The city will house 50,000 residents and 40,000 commuters. There will be 65 million square feet of office space.
Cars will be banned within the city limits. Garages are available outside of the city for parking, and electric transportation pods will transport people throughout the city.
Wastewater will be used to irrigate fields that grow biofuels.
In many aspects it is easier to build a city like this from scratch rather than convert and existing city. But American planners should look closely at the innovations in Masdar as new developments are proposed.
Green building technology is on the rise on our country. While individuals may be slow to adapt new habits regarding energy usage, architects are realizing more and more the advantages of designing from a conservation and renewable standpoint.
Construction costs may be a few percentage points higher with green technology, but we must realize that the dollars spent on construction are not the only costs associated with building. In fact, even future savings in energy costs (which can offset construction costs) are not all that should be considered.
The simple fact that we are using less of the earth’s precious resources should make small increases in price more acceptable. Some resources really are limited, in spite of what some politicians may want you to believe.
The leaders of oil rich Abu Dhabi are convinced that the world will wean itself from oil and we should join them. We can either face the end of the petroleum era on our terms, or allow it to force us into a crisis much worse than what we just went through. The choice is ours.