An evaluation committee from the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi and the Abu Dhabi Education Council was at the Islamia English School in the Capital on Tuesday assessing how much the school was able to do for the environment in the present academic year. Islamia is one among the 30 schools in the emirate that were shortlisted for the final phase of the Sustainable Schools Project for the academic session 2011-2012. They have been picked from a total of 103 schools enrolled in the project last autumn, based upon the continuous assessment of each school’s monthly report and a final environmental report carried out recently. All the shortlisted schools are now in the process of being evaluated. “Schools that join this initiative are expected to assess their school’s environmental impact and address it through improved performance each year. They do this by conducting the green school audit, which measures their consumption along five elements — land, energy, air, waste and water — and developing mitigation plans to reduce this impact,” said Gayatri Raghwa, deputy manager of Environmentally Sustainable Schools Section at the EAD and member of the evaluation committee. The Sustainable Schools Initiative, which was launched by the EAD in 2009, supported by Adec and sponsored by BP, is a whole school initiative, addressing students, parents, teachers and administrative and non-teaching staff. The expected outcome is to reduce environmental footprint and promote sustainability. “The project began with 23 schools and now has over 103 schools participating,” pointed out Raghwa. Out of the 30 schools shortlisted this academic year, 18 schools are in Abu Dhabi city, seven are from Al Ain and five from the Western Region. During the final evaluation process the students from each of the shortlisted schools have to present in front of the committee their pro-environmental actions, mostly recycling, water and energy consumption reduction both at school and at home. The committee will then examine the students’ supporting evidence, interviewing them, but also their teachers and the school administration. “The project also empowers the students to reach out to the community through running active environmental clubs, train their teachers on new teaching and learning methods to impart environmental concepts taught in the classroom and expose their students to hands-on field trips, which help promote experiential learning of the environment,” said Raghwa. The winning schools will be rewarded in the Sustainable Schools Awards Ceremony 2011-2012, which is scheduled to be held on June 6.