Too cool for a school: Bangladeshi pupils set for traditional Arab wind towers

(23/07/2017)

Not content with being one of the most sustainable of its kind in Abu Dhabi, a Bangladeshi school is now aiming to be one of the coolest, as it builds traditional wind towers to keep its pupils comfortable as they study.

The 23 wind towers, which will be supplemented with environmentally friendly technology, is just one of the many ongoing projects at Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Bangladesh Islamia School – the only school in the UAE to win a Sheikh Zayed Future Energy Prize award.

It has also opened a plant conservatory powered by a high-tech Japanese climate simulation system imported from Japan supplied by UAE-based Global Mission and Sanyo Techno Solutions Tottori.

“They said it could simulate any climate, like even the climate of Alaska,” said Anita Saul, sustainable schools initiative coordinator at the school. “That is their ambition.”

Officials gathered on Monday at the school for a ceremonial ribbon cutting to inaugurate the greenhouse, which at the moment is sparsely populated with fruit and vegetable trees.

Blue and red LED lights have been installed to promote plant growth but the real work will begin in September when the children return to school, said principal Mir Anisul Hasan.

“It will give our students a huge opportunity to be involved in advanced-level projects and interact with experts from all over the world,” said Mr Hasan. “Students will learn how to take care of endangered species. At the same time, they will know a lot about growing plants in different seasons with the help of this conservatory.”

The wind tower project is being developed with prize money the school has won over the years through its sustainability efforts and with financial and technical investment from the University of Leeds, in the UK. Officials say they expect construction on the 23 towers to resume in September.

“The technology is based on traditional Arab architecture, like that of the burjeel, so it is of interest to the local architecture also,” said Ms Saul.

“It is highlighting the culture and heritage of the UAE. That is why we are proud of that project and with its natural ventilation it reduces the workload of the ACs, it brings in fresh air and we are adding some new technology as well.”

While a traditional wind tower can help cool temperatures to 24C, Ms Saul said additional technology using water will be installed in the towers to make the room temperatures even cooler to satisfy modern comfort levels. Once completed, the project will be a “huge milestone,” she said.

“We are expecting to be the first passively cooled school in the Middle East,” said Ms Saul.

The Bangladesh-curriculum school has been in operation since 1980 and moved into its current location thanks to a land donation by Sheikh Zayed, Father of the Nation. The school’s recent accolades – most notably, winning the Zayed Future Energy Prize’s Global High Schools award in 2013 followed by subsequent prizes from the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAAD) for its conservation efforts – have been a fitting tribute to the memory of Sheikh Zayed, after whom the school is named, said Zayed University professor Dr Habibul Khondker.

“He was an environmental leader when the world was not yet thinking about the environment,” said Dr Khondker, who is a board member of the school. “He was an ecological leader when the world was not even using the word ecology. So he actually planted this much-needed ecological and environmental consciousness in this country.”

The school saves energy from the 48 solar panels it installed on its roof as part of its sustainable schools initiative in 2013. Officials say the panels produce about 30 per cent of the building’s electricity, mainly powering lights, computers and fans.

Muna Ali, outreach programme coordinator for the EAAD, which runs the Sustainable Schools Initiative to promote conservation efforts and education, said the school is to be praised for its leadership.

“The Bangladesh school is one of the best schools in our sustainable schools initiative,” she said. “We want others to be like the Bangladesh school now. It is a real example for schools to transfer awareness and doing all the campaigns for real action towards sustainability.”

Source: thenational.ae originally published on July 18th, 2017. 

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