First Published: 2017-11-14

Lebanon green schools pave the way for eco-friendly generations
Clubs activities include planting trees, clean-up campaigns, building vertical gardens in the school court and showing environment-related documentaries.
Middle East Online

By Samar Kadi - BEIRUT

Lebanese student speaks about saving paper to protect the environment.

Green starts at school. With this motto in mind, Lebanese NGOs and an eco-consultancy firm embarked on a mission to encourage Lebanese private and public schools to turn green.

We believe in education to promote awareness about the environment and ecology, said lawyer Hadla Traboulsi, founder of the Lebanese Organisation for Green Schools (LOGS). School is the natural and ideal place to learn, raise environmental awareness, build habits and citizenship values because the ultimate objective is to change peoples practices and behaviour.

LOGS has been approaching schools since 2015 with activities and ideas to help them become eco-friendly. These include training teachers on green practices and introducing environmental issues in the subjects they teach, reorganising the schools utilities and premises to make them less harmful to the environment and assisting the schools in establishing environmental clubs.

Students are in charge of running their schools environmental club, Traboulsi said. By giving them such responsibilities we are actually engaging them. They decide on the activities they want to make and they are being very creative.

Clubs activities include planting trees, clean-up campaigns, building vertical gardens in the school court and showing environment-related movies and documentaries.

The NGO has created a glossary of environmental vocabulary that teachers can introduce in language, mathematics and science classes, said LOGS educational adviser and board member Spiro Habash.

Virtual water is one example of this vocab, Habash said. For instance, it takes 140 litres of virtual water to make a cup of coffee because you need to plant the coffee, irrigate the shrub, process the seeds, transport it, etc. This raises awareness about how precious a commodity water is. Messages are passed through lessons.

Helping schools turn green is not an easy task due to financial and resource limitations, Traboulsi noted.

Most schools are set in old buildings and it is not always simple to refurbish them. Financial means and capacities determine how fast the school can turn green. Some schools may have the will but not the means. Others have both and can in one year become eco-friendly by installing photovoltaic systems and solar panels to save on energy, etc.

Green schools in Lebanon are audited by e-EcoSolutions. The environmental consultancy firm oversees implementation of the Green Schools Certification Programme, under which schools are progressively rewarded for their achievements and commitment to protecting the environment.

e-EcoSolutions is the appointed leader of the Lebanon Chapter of the Global Coalition for Green Schools. We have given Green School certificates to 38 schools across Lebanon so far, said the firms CEO Gilbert Tegho.

He said each school will score Green Points (GPs) based on a checklist of sustainability solutions in the categories of recycling, green spaces, energy efficiency, water efficiency, health and safety and sustainability education.

There is a minimum of 20 GPs that schools should score to qualify for certification. Depending on the points scored, the schools may get bronze, silver, gold or platinum certifications, Tegho said.

Green Schools Certifications are valid for two years, after which a second audit is required to maintain or upscale the certification level.

We do the audits and the scoring because we have the benchmarks based on an international programme tailored to the country. We provide schools with a clear guideline of what they can do to become green. We actually give them free consultancy on the things that they can potentially achieve to score points, Tegho said.

He noted that most schools in Lebanon, both private and public, are engaged in sorting and recycling paper. Many have replaced bulbs and lighting systems with light-emitting diode (LED) and energy-saving lights, others installed double-glazed windows to improve insulation and reduce energy consumption. Some are collecting rainwater or revamping water pipes and taps to make them more economical and prevent water leakage.

e-EcoSolutions has been working with partners and NGOs willing to help schools develop, including a bank offering interest-free loans.

The outcome that we want to achieve is to change the behaviour of students to become eco-citizens They should know that there is a problem with climate change but that there are also solutions and that they can act towards it, Tegho said.

Traboulsi lamented that people in Lebanon fail to react to environmental issues unless they reach a grave stage. The garbage collection crisis that plagued Lebanon two years ago might have had one advantage in that it acted as a wake-up call and made people realise that it is a very serious problem affecting their life and their health, she said.

That is why engaging children and encouraging them to be part of the solution of environmental problems is crucial.

Samar Kadi is the Arab Weekly society and travel section editor.

This article was originally published in The Arab Weekly.

 

Saudi finalises drone regulation after security alarm

Israel rubbishes claims Mossad behind Malaysia assassination

Iran vows to resume enrichment if US quits nuclear deal

Mass grave discovered under Raqa football pitch

Can Arab satellite TV catch up with social media?

UAE accuses Qatari jets of ‘chasing’ passenger flight

Syrian refugees are not going home anytime soon

Resumption of direct flights from Moscow brings hope to Egypt’s tourism sector

Will Lebanon have more women MPs after May 6 poll?

Saudi shoots down ‘toy drone’

UN Security Council meets over Syria in Sweden

Turkish government rejects criticism of election campaign

Condemnation after Gaza teenager killed by Israeli soldiers

Syrian rebels agree to leave new area outside Damascus

Rouhani slams officials' 'vow of silence' in face of protests

Family accuses Israel of killing Palestinian in Malaysia

Natalie Portman says backed out of Israel prize over Netanyahu

Morocco, EU start talks on new fisheries deal

FIFA to return to Morocco to check hotels, stadiums

Turkey in shock after violent Istanbul derby

Iraq pays first war reparations to Kuwait since 2014

Fiery kites adopted as new tactic by Gaza protesters

Romanian president slams plan to move Israel embassy

Western strikes on Syria bring no change whatsoever

Trump criticises OPEC for high oil prices

Syria says rebels south of capital surrender

Market has capacity to absorb higher oil prices: Saudi minister

Putin 'ready' for Trump summit

Saudi Arabia to host first public film screening

HRW criticises Lebanon for evicting Syria refugees

Saudi says intercepted ballistic missile from Yemen

Russia mulls supplying S-300 missile systems to Syria

US has 'concerns' about Turkey holding fair vote under state of emergency

Bashir fires Sudan foreign minister

Washington: Assad still has 'limited' chemical capability

European MPs urge US not to scrap Iran deal

Oil price soars to highest level in years

Two more pro-Kurdish MPs stripped of Turkey seats

Oil theft 'costing Libya over $750 million annually'

Turkey's snap polls: bold gambit or checkmate for Erdogan?

Iran arrests senior official over public concert

Bahrain sentences 24 to jail, strips citizenship

UN experts urge Iran to cancel Kurd's death sentence

Moderate quake strikes near Iran nuclear power plant

Syria regime forces caught in surprise IS attack