This could be a function of media coverage, of fossil fuel wealth, or of a high percentage of expatriates living there, but the UAE appears to be leading the Arab world’s environmental revolution. Dubai largesse aside, Abu Dhabi, and recently even Sharjah, have frequently demonstrated their commitment to saving the planet.
Although we hear very little from Abu Dhabi’s second largest city, Al Ain, it turns out that the Liwa International School located in “the Garden City” is actually the first in the Middle East to develop a living, breathing “green” wall. Conceived by 12th grade students, the plant-covered wall is just one component of a $1 million plan to improve the school and has had a bevy of unforeseen consequences.
According to The National, the Liwa International School in Al Ain used to be a nondescript block of concrete. But the ugly beast has been transformed into a living, breathing building decorated with 35,000 plants.
Five 12th grade students submitted plans to “green” their school to a recent energy summit, but the school’s principal loved it so much, he and the school board agreed to pump just over $1 million into making the students’ plans a physical reality.
In addition to creating an exciting environment for students to gush over, the green wall has reduced the building’s energy requirements, dropped temperatures by a full five degrees celsius, and softens the level of noise since the plants act as a sound barrier. In addition, the new wall increases the level of oxygen available and the uptake of excess carbon dioxide emissions.
Other schools and parents in the region are green with envy, and despite fears to the contrary, there has been no increase in creepy craw-lies of the six legged variety.
And the green wall is just the beginning. When the “greenovation” is complete, Liwa will also feature 102 solar panels and advanced water recycling technology that filters grey bathroom water that is then used to irrigate the school’s landscaping.
At present, the solar energy produced is being used to light the school overnight. Hopefully that energy will soon be put to better use, but overall, this exciting development demonstrates how widely environmental concerns are being addressed throughout the UAE.
Even more importantly as the school’s deputy principal Fayez Jalloul puts it, the kids are thinking about the environment.
:: The National
More on environmental education and green building in the Middle East:
images via Liwa International School