Today, the CEBC Schools Programme took a very exciting field trip to The Sustainable City! Over 55 students and teachers from 10 different schools took part in our trip. You can click here (go to the bottom link) to view photos from the day.

The Sustainable City is located next to Dubai Studio City and is a shining example of sustainable living, reducing your ecological footprint, protecting the environment and increasing community wellbeing. The strategy behind the city takes a three tiered approach: Social, Environmental and Economic. Social sustainability is achieved through amenities and community outreach programmes. Environmental sustainability is maintained through design strategies, as well as strategic partnerships focussing on sustainability. Economic sustainability is achieved through operational efficiency – like having solar panels to generate power – and passing on the savings to residents, end enhancing the community public areas.

Individual houses in the city produce between 25 and 30 kilowatts of power per hour thanks to solar panels, thick insulated walls and glazed windows. There is also a focus on energy efficiency, making sure that efficient air conditioning units are used, buildings are positioned for optimum cooling, and public areas – such as pavements – are designed so they do not absorb the heat of the sun. Residents are encouraged to grow their own vegetables, and students even got to hear about the recently introduced Egyptian bees who will be pollinating flowers in the city! Students also heard about innovative greywater and blackwater irrigation systems, and how the greywater is used to irrigate the ‘green channel’ in the middle of the city – where the biodomes are located.

The day started with a quick introduction about the city, after which students were able to see a very cool model of the current – and future proposed – layout of the city. After this, the group split into two, with half the students starting a short city tour, and the other half entering the biodome.

The biodome was a fantastic place to see sustainability in action! We learnt about different types of gardening. Typically, gardening needs three things to be successful – sunlight, water and soil. In the biodome, we learnt there were other ways to garden – the first of which is aquaponics. It was hard to miss the big fish tank in the middle of the dome, full of fish with lots of greenery happily sprouting out the top! Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (the soil-less growing of plants) that grows fish and plants together in one integrated system. The fish waste provides an organic food source for the plants, and the plants naturally filter the water for the fish. It was amazing to see this system up close and in action. What do you think – could you have an aquaponics system at your school? If you want to learn more about aquaponics, there is lots of useful information here, and this website lets you know which fish are best suited to it!

We then learnt about hydroponics. Hydroponics is a subset of hydroculture, which is the growing of plants in a soil less medium. Hydroponic growing uses mineral nutrient solutions to feed the plants in water, without soil. We saw tall hydroponic stacked columns, which are great for saving space. All around the biodome were hundreds of plants being grown this way – taking up much less space than they would in the ground. You can learn more about hydroponics here, or there are several companies in Dubai that sell hydroponic supplies – click here, and here, to see a few.

Students then had the opportunity to pot their very own sunflower seed, and try some of the fresh produce growing in the dome. Did you try the cucumbers? They were delicious, fresh and crunchy – and just think, they didn’t have to travel on a truck or fly on a plane to make it to your plate!

After the biodome, we went for a short visit around The Sustainable City. Here, Michael explained to us how the villas were designed to minimize the impact of heat (making them more energy efficiency), and how solar and wind cooling towers were used in the community. We got to wander around the carless, quiet community – it looked like a lovely place to live, and who doesn’t love being able to see chickens and ducks wandering around the green areas near your house? Some students were pretty excited about the fact that you are able to lease electric golf carts to make your way around the carless community, once you are old enough to get a license. That would be a fun way to visit your friends!

We finished off with a quick talk from some ladies who are demonstrating just how much waste the average person creates in a month, and how little we can create if we are careful with our consumption. Mariska and Marita are both wearing garments that contain all of the trash they have collected over the last 26 days. We noticed a big difference between these two ladies – Mariska demonstrated the trash created by the average person, whereas Marita was living much more sustainably – and the difference was huge. Lastly, Nila was being extra conscious of her consumption, and was living a waste free lifestyle. Well done Nila! This is a great example to us, and she suggested some useful ways to minimise our own waste creation – such as reusing items, carrying our own cutlery and using bamboo straws. You can read more about the 30 days of waste project here.

If you want to visit The Sustainable City with your family, you are welcome to return and visit the public areas of the city, such as the cafes and shops. There is also a very nice horse riding facility you might like to explore. Click here to visit The Sustainable City website – there are often fun family activities you can come along to.

We hope all of our students had a fantastic time on the field trip, and enjoyed being able to see sustainability in action. We would like to give a BIG thank you to The Sustainable City, particularly Shar and Michael, for taking the time to show us around.

We look forward to seeing you in September next year, when the schools programme will restart for the next academic year. Until then – stay sustainable! 

Do you have any pictures from the day you would like to share? If so, please email to belinda at belinda@cleanenergybusinesscouncil.com, and she will add them to the gallery!

 

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