The EmiratesGBC Coalition for Green Schools roundtable, hosted by the Emirates Green Building Council and held at Time Oak Hotel, took an in depth look at Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) in UAE Schools.
With air pollution and respiratory illnesses citied as a leading cause of absenteeism in schools globally, the Coalition’s Roundtable discussion highlighted the importance of IAQ and what can be done to improve the indoor school environment for students. A part of the Global Coalition for Green Schools, the Emirates Coalition is engaging stakeholders and like-minded organisations that aim to equip communities with resources to achieve the UAE vision of ‘ensuring that every child in the UAE has the opportunity to learn in a green school within this generation.’
Emirates Green Building Council (EmiratesGBC), an independent forum aimed at conserving the environment by strengthening and promoting green building practices, is a founding member of the Global Coalition. It promotes discussions on creating a national vision of healthy, high performance schools that are conducive to learning while saving energy, resources and money.
Saeed Al Abbar, chairman of EmiratesGBC, said: “Indoor Air Quality is not often deliberated, and the purpose of the roundtable was to bring the issue to the forefront, especially in schools where youth spend most of their time. We also want to equip schools in the UAE, as well as other stakeholders, with the information and knowledge about the impact of poor Indoor Air Quality and what can be done to improve the school environment for students. Youth are the future of this nation, and their wellbeing is a priority and moral obligation in every aspect.”
During the roundtable, Matt Bird, design engineer advanced, Dyson, presented a case study on Dyson’s collaboration with Taaleem Schools in the UAE to raise awareness and measure IAQ in Taaleem’s schools. The case study supported the roundtable discussion that followed, with a focus on addressing the impacts of poor IAQ in schools, understanding IAQ performance in UAE schools, and exploring the measures of success for improved IAQ.
Held for the second consecutive year, the roundtable was moderated by Nada Chami, business development manager from Saint Gobain, with a focus of ensuring overall health and wellbeing of building occupants.
The first roundtable was conducted in November 2017 offering a well-rounded overview on the ‘State of Our Schools’ in the UAE and served as a first step to constructive dialogue between diverse stakeholders. 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 white paper from the first roundtable session, ‘The State of Our Schools,’ touched upon the topic of IAQ in schools explaining that ‘the existing research indicated IAQ of existing schools in the UAE is in critical condition, which can lead to long term respiratory related illnesses such as bronchitis and asthma.’
This citation serves as a backdrop for the ‘Indoor Air Quality’ roundtable to give the issue more prominence and to encourage stakeholders across government, academia, schools and industry to come together and tackle this important aspect of Green Schools.
The roundtable concluded with a consensus that there needs to be more awareness among key stakeholders and a genuine willingness to treat the root cause of the issue. A stricter implementation of green building regulations, including retrofitting older schools, is key to improving the overall Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) in schools and providing a more holistic approach to promoting and increasing the number of green schools in the UAE.