- The Emirates Coalition for Green Schools cited as major step for driving sustainability initiatives across UAE schools
- Calls for cross-sectoral and multidisciplinary platform to improve the level of sustainability in UAE’s schools; underlines need to improve Indoor Air Quality of schools
- Emirates Coalition for Green Schools aims to ensure that every child in the UAE learns in a green school within this generation
Dubai, UAE; February 12, 2018: Emirates Green Building Council (EmiratesGBC), an independent forum aimed at conserving the environment by strengthening and promoting green building practices, has called for strengthening eco-literacy among students and promoting public-private partnerships for achieving the ‘green’ transformation of UAE’s schools.
The recommendations for transforming UAE’s schools into sustainable environments are highlighted in the ‘State of Our Schools’ whitepaper authored by EmiratesGBC following a roundtable of the Emirates Coalition for Green Schools, a national initiative launched by EmiratesGBC aligned with the Global Coalition for Green Schools.
The UAE’s strongest advocates of green schools took part in the roundtable, held in November 2017, to deliberate about the ‘state of our schools.’ The event was supported by the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, Taqati and Etihad Energy Services. The participants included representatives of government, tertiary level academics, elementary school teachers, education and sustainability related associations, media and the private sector.
The three key objectives of the roundtable have now been achieved with the White Paper, which defines green schools in the UAE, assesses the current state of the UAE schools, and identifies which stakeholders must be engaged to determine an effective course of action.
Accordingly, a ‘green school’ is defined as one that ‘provides a healthy environment for occupants conducive to learning while optimising environmental performance and encouraging environmental literacy.’ The State of our Schools report points out the consensus among the various stakeholders that ‘a very limited number of schools fulfil all the aspects of the definition of a green school.’
Saeed Al Abbar, Chairman of EmiratesGBC, said: “The State of Our Schools report is an important first step not only in further driving the environmental performance of our schools but also in promoting concerted action to strengthen eco-literacy among our one million students. These young people are our future and it is important that we inculcate environmental awareness among them, which in turn will benefit not only the school environment but also the community and nation, at large.
“With several notable works done by the educational authorities to promote environmental sustainability in schools, we have a platform to build this dialogue further. Through collective action and strong public-private partnership, we can achieve the Coalition’s vision of ‘ensuring that every child in the UAE has the opportunity to learn in a green school within this generation.’”
Aref Abouzahr, Executive Director of TAQATI Dubai Energy Efficiency Program and member of the Emirates Coalition for Green Schools, said: “With overall trends indicating the need to make our schools greener, it is of utmost importance to focus on energy efficiency alongside environmental aspects. To build and sustain the momentum of green transformation, schools should invest in energy efficient solutions and technologies such as retrofitting and transitioning towards renewable energy sources, particularly distributed solar. Green schools would greatly support the UAE’s sustainability vision and energy efficiency goals set forth by our leadership.”
A key outcome of the State of Our Schools roundtable was the collective agreement that a very limited number of schools, fulfill the agreed definition of a green school in the UAE.
The White Paper points out that with 1,316 schools in the UAE and over a million students enrolled, the nation has significant potential to achieve green schools by educating and influencing the future advocators of sustainability – the students.
With each of the 1,300 plus schools in the UAE having at least one or more operational buildings, transitioning the considerable number of school buildings to green schools would allow the nation to make considerable progress in reaching local targets and the COP 21 commitment of limiting global warming to less than 2°C.
The White Paper also cites a study on the ‘Evaluation of indoor environmental quality conditions in elementary schools’ classrooms in the UAE,’ covering 16 public and private elementary schools in Dubai and Fujairah. It reported that average TVOC (Total Volatile Organic Compounds), carbon dioxide, ozone, carbon monoxide and particulate concentration, temperature, relative humidity, sound and lighting were outside of the recommended ranges for classroom environments across the schools studied. “While further studies with larger sample sizes are necessary, the existing research indicates Indoor Air Quality of existing schools in the UAE is in critical condition,” the report points out.
Underpinning the need for promoting green schools, the White Paper points out that green schools can help reach the UAE’s educational targets for 2021 as well as aid in achieving national and municipal energy, water and waste reduction targets. It also calls for a cross-sectoral and multidisciplinary platform to improve the level of sustainability in UAE’s schools.
The ‘State of Our Schools’ White Paper is the first step in an intended series of roundtables and accompanying publications to help drive the vision of the Emirates Coalition of Green Schools. For more details about the White Paper, an electronic copy is accessible through this link: http://emiratesgbc.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/The-State-of-Our-Schools-White-Paper-Final.pdf
EmiratesGBC regularly hosts and participates in multinational events, conferences and forums. It has also developed a suite of activities, inclusive of networking events, technical workshops, focus days and facilitated training based around specific issues related to the built-environment that meet the needs of its members, of the UAE community and the wider Middle East.
About Emirates Green Building Council:
The Emirates Green Building Council (EmiratesGBC) was founded in June 2006, and became the 8th full member of the World Green Building Council in September 2006. EmiratesGBC is an organisation that promotes and educates on green issues in the built environment and is the official body for the UAE endorsed by the World Green Building Council. EmiratesGBC currently has around 150 members in the UAE which represents 1000s of individuals interested and involved in Green Building in the UAE and the region. In addition, EmiratesGBC members receive discounts on a number of programmes such as those related to conferences, seminars, training and green building events.
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