Dubai, UAE, 18 February 2018: The Emirates Green Building Council (EmiratesGBC) has called for strengthening eco-literacy among students and promoting public-private partnerships (PPPs) for achieving a ‘green’ transformation of UAE’s schools, the organisation said in a Press communiqué.
The recommendations for transforming UAE’s schools into sustainable environments are highlighted in a whitepaper, titled ‘State of Our Schools’, authored by EmiratesGBC, following a roundtable of the Emirates Coalition for Green Schools, a national initiative launched by EmiratesGBC, and aligned with the Global Coalition for Green Schools, the communiqué said.
The communiqué explained that the UAE’s strongest advocates of green schools took part in the roundtable, held in November 2017. The event was supported by the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, Taqati and Etihad Energy Services, while the participants included representatives of government, tertiary-level academics, elementary school teachers, education and sustainability-related associations, media organisations and the private sector, the communiqué said.
The three key objectives of the roundtable have been achieved with the publication of the White Paper, which defines green schools in the UAE, assesses the current state of UAE schools, and identifies which stakeholders must be engaged to determine an effective course of action, the communiqué further said.
According to EmiratesGBC, 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”, the communiqué elaborated.
Saeed Al Abbar, Chairman, 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. 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 Abou Zahr, Executive Director, TAQATI Dubai Energy Efficiency Program, and member, the Emirates Coalition for Green Schools, said: “To build and sustain the momentum of green transformation, schools should invest in energy-efficient solutions and technologies. 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 fulfil the agreed definition of a green school in the UAE, the communiqué said. 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, the communiqué further said.
According to EmiratesGBC, 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 report points out, “the existing research indicates Indoor Air Quality of existing schools in the UAE is in critical condition.”
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. More details on the White Paper can be accessed at http://emiratesgbc.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/The-State-of-Our-Schools-White-Paper-Final.pdf