UAE school launches pilot wind tower

Project funded from $100,000 Global High Schools success

His Excellency Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, president of the Republic of Iceland and chair of the Zayed Future Energy Prize jury; His Excellency Muhammad I
His Excellency Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, president of the Republic of Iceland and chair of the Zayed Future Energy Prize jury; His Excellency Muhammad I

Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Bangladesh Islamia School, the 2013 winner of the Zayed Future Energy Prize, has launched a wind tower that will provide sustainable cooling for its classrooms.

The project, which was developed in partnership with the University of Leeds Physics Group, was funded through the $100,000 prize the school was awarded for the Global High Schools, Asia category.

The Global High Schools prize category was introduced by the Zayed Future Energy Prize in 2012 as part of the UAE’s commitment to the UN Secretary General’s ‘Sustainable Energy for All’ initiative, which seeks to double renewable energy, enhance energy efficiency and ensure universal clean energy access by 2030.

Since its establishment in 2012, nine schools have been awarded and fifteen have been identified internationally for the upcoming 2015 awards.

Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Bangladesh Islamia School is the first UAE-based entity to receive the Zayed Future Energy Prize and the first school to win in the Global High Schools category for the Asia region. The school was awarded for its proposal to reduce grid reliance and become carbon neutral through leveraging sustainable cooling methods and grid-type smart photo-voltaic systems. The installation of the new wind tower completes the final step in the proposal to improve cooling throughout the school by integrating traditional Arab building methods.

Following the installation of a smart solar system on the building’s rooftop in June 2013, the school pursued a partnership with the University of Leeds Physics Group in order to complete its proposal for a wind tower. 

In the design process, the University of Leeds Physics Group studied classic Emirati architecture as well as wind tower elements popularised in the region. The one metre by one metre wind tower is constructed from sheet metal and works on the principle of pressure differentials - whereby warm air rises, creating a low pressure in the receiving room, which then draws in the fresh air. Cooling devices are integrated into the wind tower channel to reduce the air temperature, ensuring minimum restriction in the air flow stream and maximum heat transfer.

The school’s wind tower is also fitted with adjustable volume control dampers to control the delivery rate of outside air. The technology has been adapted to the climatic challenges of the UAE, significantly reducing energy consumption.

Additionally, the use of natural air for ventilating occupied spaces helps reduce or eliminate health-related complaints usually associated with domestic air conditioning.

The study conducted by the University of Leeds has revealed that the wind tower is capable of reducing the supply temperature by up to 12 degrees within the simulated class room model.

The first device has been officially patented by the University of Leeds and will be rolled out across the UAE to potential clients in early 2015, using the university’s spin-out company Free Running Buildings.

To date, the Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Bangladesh Islamia School has implemented several sustainability measures including the installation of energy saving light bulbs. The effort has helped cut the school’s electricity consumption by 15%, earning it additional awards and certificates from the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi.

To commemorate the occasion, an official inauguration ceremony was held for the wind tower at the Abu Dhabi-based school, in the presence of the Chair of the Zayed Future Energy Prize Jury, His Excellency Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, president of the Republic of Iceland, and His Excellency Muhammad Imran, Bangladesh Ambassador to the UAE. 

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