No waste: Recycling tank for ablution water Image Credit: XPRESS/Anjana Sankar

ABU DHABI A Bangladeshi school in Abu Dhabi is setting an example for the nation with its award-winning sustainability and energy conservation efforts.

Winner of the $100,000 (Dh367,300) Zayed Future Energy Prize this year, Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Bangladesh Islamiya Private School has become the first educational institution in the UAE to install solar panels to meet most of its energy needs.

“Once the 48 solar panels are installed, all lights and fans in the school will function on solar energy. That is only the first phase of this project,” Mir Anisul Hasan, Principal of the school, told XPRESS.

The school won the prestigious award instituted by Masdar in the Global High Schools – Asia category for its solar energy project.

Future plans

In the second and third phases, the school has plans to install solar batteries for the storage of solar energy, and construct Arabian style wind towers for passive cooling.

The solar panels being installed by Mulk Renewable Energy company can produce 60 KwH daily and can meet 30 per cent of the school’s energy needs.

Project engineer Abul Bashar Aminul Islam said the innovative features like booster mirror and a tracking system that rotates during the day to follow the sun gives 50 per cent more output than conventional systems.

The commendable green initiatives by this modest community school located in the Muroor area with around 600 students, are driven by its Eco Club.

Under the headship of two Indian teachers – Dr. Anita Saul and Rekha Tushar – the school has transformed into a green zone where students are taught the vital lesson – to sustain is to survive.

Grade XII student Fahad Bashar, President of the Eco Club, said sustainable initiatives are introducing many students to their future stream of studies.

“Many of us want to take up sustainability and energy conservation as our future course of study,” Bashar told XPRESS.

When you walk onto the campus, there are no WiFi-enabled lounges, manicured lawns, Olympic-sized swimming pools or multi-media entertainment zones.

What greets you at the entrance is a huge poster that proclaims what the school stands for – ‘We are a sustainable school. Save and sustain our energy, water and land.”

And the school practices what it preaches. LED lights have replaced over 700 tube lights and bulbs in the classrooms and corridors in the last few months.

Every classroom has three bins to segregate waste. Plastic bottles are not allowed on the campus. Sustainability becomes a way of life for students, and they carry the green message outside their campus. As Afreen Sara of Grade 8 puts it, “I do not allow my family members to waste water and energy.”

The Eco Club garden in the campus is watered with recycled water that comes from the ablution area. The used water is collected in a tank and filtered using pebbles. Occasionally, sodium hypochloride is used to clean the water.

‘’This was one of our initial projects to increase our green area without increasing water consumption,” said Saul.

In the backyard there is a protected green area where students have planted endangered indigenous trees like Ghaf, Cider and Arak.

“We want to encourage our children to protect and preserve our environment. It is a culture they should imbibe and spread to the rest of the world as envisioned by our visionary leader Shaikh Zayed,” said the principal, Hasan.

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