IRENA HQ greenest office building in UAE

Clare Saxon Ghauri
Reading time: 5 minutes
3 June 2015

LONDON: The “greenest” office building in the UAE officially opened in Abu Dhabi today, where it will be home to the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), spearheading the region that The Climate Group has called an emerging “global clean energy hub”.

IRENA is an intergovernmental organization supporting countries as they transition to a low carbon future, so its new location on the edge of the Masdar City campus, the world’s first carbon neutral city, is apt.

High-level officials from the Middle East and around the world gathered in Masdar City to celebrate the official inauguration of IRENA's HQ. Director-General Adnan Z. Amin stated: “We are delighted to finally be home in our new global headquarters, an extraordinary building that is a paragon of sustainability throughout the region. Its advantageous location in Masdar City, and in Abu Dhabi, positions the headquarters as a nerve centre for renewable energy action and knowledge for the future.”

Featuring 1,000 square-meters of rooftop solar photovoltaic panels and smart energy management systems which means it needs at least 40% less energy than global standards, the HQ was named Green Commercial Building of the Year last month by the Emirates Green Building Council.

Anthony Mallows, Director of Masdar City, said of winning the prestigious award: "Our commitment to establishing Masdar City as a leading hub for innovation and sustainability is generating great recognition with the new IRENA headquarters named as the 'Green Building of the Year.'

"Achieving a four-pearl Estidama rating for the IRENA building, within a competitive, market-driven budget, demonstrates that innovative design and construction, combined with a thorough understanding of sustainable building requirements, can produce outstanding results."

The UAE beat Germany and Austria to host IRENA back in 2009, making it the first developing country to host a major international organization and marking another milestone in the historically oil-rich region’s shift to cleaner energy, particularly solar power.

Uniquely positioned in the world’s solar radiation ‘hot-spot’, the UAE is set to be a leader of the world's impressive solar sector growth, according to recent analysis by The Climate Group and supported by IRENA.

Triggered by increasing energy demand, uncertain prices and pressure to cut emissions, the briefing paper says the UAE’s huge solar resources and cutting-edge technology development are shaping it to benefit economically from becoming a global clean energy hub.

Mark Kenber, CEO, The Climate Group, says there is even potential for the country to make this shift ahead of the COP21 climate talks this December, stating: “There’s an extraordinarily ambitious strategy of investment and innovation that is paying dividends now, and positions the UAE to maximize the economic and business benefits of the expected boom in the green economy following the climate treaty summit."

He added: “The Climate Group currently works with some of the world’s leading brands and also government agencies responsible for energy and authorities. We have recently started to work on a new initiative called RE100, which helps companies to adopt and benefit from using renewable energy in its operations. There are many UAE businesses that belong in this global vanguard."

Twenty companies have now joined our RE100 program in partnership with CDP, which encourages leading businesses to make a public commitment to going 100% renewable, and is now expanding into the UAE region.

Iterating the country's pledge to transition to renewables at the opening of the IRENA HQ, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE minister of foreign affairs, said: “Hosting IRENA in Abu Dhabi is a reflection of the UAE’s commitment to expanding access to sustainable, clean energy both domestically and internationally. We look forward to partnering closely with IRENA and countries around the world to support the further development of renewable energy and clean technologies.”

IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin added: "This is an exciting time to be working in renewable energy. Renewables have reached an age of maturity where costs plummet, investment climbs, and world leaders recognize the necessity of scaling up deployment. IRENA’s new headquarters are a symbol of the world’s turn towards renewables.”

Read more about RE100

Download our analysis RE100: The UAE – Hub of the next energy revolution?

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By Clare Saxon Ghauri

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