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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 26 April 2018

Global energy agency Irena set to open sustainable HQ in Masdar City

The building complex was awarded a four-pearl Estidama rating by the Urban Planning Council of Abu Dhabi.

The new Irena headquarters building, located at Masdar, will open on Wednesday. Delores Johnson / The National
The new Irena headquarters building, located at Masdar, will open on Wednesday. Delores Johnson / The National

ABU DHABI // After a four-year wait, Adnan Amin, director general of the International Renewable Energy Agency, will on Wednesday night officially launch its global headquarters in Abu Dhabi.

The complex, covering 32,000 square metres, has been heralded as one of the most efficient in the world, showing Abu Dhabi’s strong commitment to the environment and Irena’s role in serving it.

“I came in just before the first assembly, in 2011, and was expected to launch a new international organisation in just four months,” Mr Amin said. “I can’t remember if I slept very much, but as well as being one of the most intense experiences of my life it was eventually one of the most rewarding.

“This isn’t just another not-for-profit that’s out there doing a bit of renewable energy, this is the international community’s response to how we are going to deal with the challenge of sustainable energy in the future.”

Abu Dhabi was chosen to host Irena in January 2009. Its base in Masdar City is the first to be given a four-pearl Estidama rating by the Urban Planning Council.

The three interconnected buildings require 42 per cent less energy than global standards, and 64 per cent less than typical buildings in Abu Dhabi.

It has a solar panel rooftop and a solar water-heating system. The panels can produce about 390,000 kilowatt-hours a year – enough energy to power about 40 houses.

Heavy emphasis was placed on making the building airtight to ensure that cold air does not escape during the summer, and heating keeps the building warm in winter.

The air-conditioning system is designed to recover about 75 per cent of the energy released through the exhaust system, almost twice as much as a normal air conditioner.

The building has innovative features such as the lift system, which can harness up to 95 per cent of the energy generated from lowering the lifts.

It is made of locally sourced and sustainable recycled steel and concrete. There are 26 charging station in the car park for drivers of electric cars.

Irena has 140 member states, with 32 others in the process of joining.

nalwasmi@thenational.ae