x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Masdar profits from 'green'

Masdar, the Abu Dhabi company that has trimmed the budget for its flagship development, has found a recipe for making money--showing others how to build green.

Masdar, the Abu Dhabi clean energy company, has come up with a recipe for making money - showing others how to build green.

The company, which is developing a $16 billion sustainable business and residential hub on the outskirts of the capital, has launched a consultancy to help others build a smaller carbon footprint.

A website that charges companies to check the sustainability of products from carpeting to timber, then lists them, has reaped Dh1 million (US$272,000) in revenues since it was launched in March, according to Masdar.

"This is a way to commercialise and monetise the huge amount of research which went into Masdar in the beginning," said Jourdan Younis, the head of sustainable development at Oger in Abu Dhabi.

"Instead of letting the data lie dormant, this is a way to get it out to the community."

Compared to the scale of its multibillion-dollar carbon-neutral city, the Dh1m in revenue from the website is relatively small.

But it shows that money can be made in sustainability.

The consultancy's next step is to market software that helps developers apply for LEED or Estidama environmental certifications for buildings, with the most basic package retailing for several hundred dollars.

Richard Reynolds, the manager of the supply chain consultancy at Masdar City, described the process of pitching the idea for a website, called The Future Build, as "a challenge".

"I had to convince our management that there was a market for this, that it was not a charity," Mr Reynolds told industry executives in Dubai.

"We need to be self-funded, which is what management is looking for … Any revenue that we make from this goes back to the Government. So that's sustainable, all the money goes back to the UAE and not to companies in the UK."

Masdar is owned by Mubadala Development, a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government. Although it is best known for Masdar City, it also develops industrial projects to cut down on carbon emissions, builds renewable energy plants and runs a university with input from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

"We are not a typical, conventional project.

"It's not about the size. It's about the concept itself," Sultan Al Jaber, the chief executive of Masdar, said on the sidelines of a recent meeting in Abu Dhabi.

"It's not a real estate development. It is all about innovation and technology."

That includes bringing companies to develop ideas at Masdar City, such as Siemens, the German energy and healthcare conglomerate that broke ground on the site of its regional headquarters at Masdar yesterday.

Last year Masdar trimmed $6 billion from the budget for the Masdar City project, and added up to nine years to its completion date.

 

ayee@thenational.ae