An initiative in Abu Dhabi makes schools sustainable
Please click to enlarge the image.
Dr Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili with Shaima Al Kaabi and Alyazia Al Falasi from Um El Emarat School for Secondary Education, Al Ain.
Removing the 508 tube lights in their school and replacing them with 254 energy-efficient light bulbs has reduced the Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Bangladesh Islamia Private School’s energy consumption by 15 per cent.
This idea was the brain child of the school’s eco club as part of an emirate-wide initiative to make schools sustainable.
“And at leisure time, we switch off the lights and let the sunshine in,” added the vice-president, Iqbal Mahmood, 17.
A simple enough solution with great results. And they were awarded gold for being the best manager in energy conservation category at the third Sustainable Schools Initiative (SSI) by the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) and the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) with sponsorship from BP.
In celebration of the World Environment Day, the SSI recently bestowed 24 awards to 14 private and public schools for achieving a holistic and sustainable outcome. Some 103 schools have participated in the celebration this academic year. At Al Rehab School in the Western Region, reducing the schools waste by more than 50 per cent was a great feat that got them the silver award. “From 480kg per month, we have reduced our wastes to 216kg. Before our awareness programme, students had no idea and they put waste around the school. Now we recycle most of our waste,” explained Batool Sameer Herazallah, 15, president of her school’s eco club.
“We also stopped using plastic bags because it takes million years to decompose so we made bags from fabric and gave them to parents and students to use,” the Jordanian student added.
Despite winning the bronze award, the Um Al Emarat School in Al Ain was equally proud of their achievement of reducing their water consumption by 56.2 per cent.
“There are large quantities of white and gray waste water that are being dumped in the drainage network,” Alyazia Al Falasi, 18, stated.
To filter these, the eco club members used coarse sand and a bucket to catch the filtered water. By attaching a secondary pipe to the bucket, the water is channelled into the school garden.
“We have five processing units in our school, and the water goes to the plants outside,” said Shaima Al Kaabi, 17.
Noting the importance of holding activities that will help instill “the concept of preserving the environment and rationalising consumption”, Dr Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Director-General of Adec, said the sustainable schools initiative allows “students to be more responsible, aware and capable of dealing with their environmental resource challenges.”
The initiative aims to assess and address school’s environmental impacts, empower students through establishing and running eco clubs, develop teachers’ capacity through training, and expose students to experiential learning through hands-on educating field trips.
“This programme not only helps reduce the school’s ecological footprint but actually helps increase its ‘ecological handprint’, which are actions towards achieving sustainability. While schools strive to encourage strong environmental ethics and behaviour among the students, participating in this programme helps schools in Abu Dhabi emirate to assess their environmental performance standards,” said Dr Jaber Al Jaberi, Deputy Secretary-General of EAD, speaking on behalf of Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary-General of the authority.