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  • The Arbor School Dubai

Arbor School in Dubai switches to low-carbon biodiesel in school-bus fleet

Photo: The Alliance for Sustainable Schools

The Dubai, United Arab Emirates-based Arbor School recently announced the switch to 20 percent (B20) low-carbon biodiesel in its school-bus fleet in collaboration with The Alliance for Sustainable Schools, Neutral Fuels and School Transport Services Group.  

The switch follows a successful trial of B20 that began last year.  

Just as the COP28 held in Dubai signifies an important milestone in the global commitment to halting climate change and a leading role the UAE has to play in that challenge, the Arbor School said switching to biodiesel marks a major sustainability milestone for its staff and students as they work towards a more sustainable future. 


The transition to run its entire bus fleet on waste-based biodiesel, a low-carbon alternative to fossil diesel, is expected to avoid about 40 metric tons per year of greenhouse-gas emissions.  


The school has installed a biodiesel storage tank onsite, enabling its fleet of buses to refuel conveniently as needed. 


This has been made possible with the help of Dubai-based biodiesel producer Neutral Fuels, the agreement of transport provider STS and in collaboration with TASS.  


The alliance is a network of schools working together to accelerate the adoption of sustainability measures such as this in schools around the world. 


“Although we are not the first school in Dubai to use biodiesel in their school buses, I have been surprised by how easy it has been to make the change, and I’m surprised that more schools are not doing this,” said Brett Girven, Arbor’s principal and the convenor of the Middle East chapter of TASS. “I hope that Arbor can help other schools make this transition, and as a member of TASS we have opportunity to do so.” 


Anthony Dixon, the founder and chairman of TASS, added, “We congratulate Arbor School on their sustainability leadership. This is a great example of how schools can do their part to address the climate crisis. Not only does it reduce their carbon footprint in a meaningful way, but it also develops future skills and empowers students and school communities to take action. It’s part of our mission to shine a spotlight on this example and help schools everywhere to make a similar change.”  


Steve Burnell, the managing director of STS, said, “STS Group is proud to partner with Arbor School and Neutral Fuels to pursue sustainable environmental advances in transport services. Our ‘safe, timely and smart’ (STS) values guide us in everything we do and make us a modern, forward-thinking passenger-service company. We are committed to environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and good governance (ESG) and will continue to lead the region’s transport sector responsibly into a sustainable future.” 


Karl W. Feilder, founder of Neutral Fuels, stated, “This is a fabulous example of the Dubai circular economy—we use the waste cooking oil generated by Dubai’s restaurants in our factory in Dubai, to create an ultra-low carbon fuel used in Dubai’s school buses. Due to our advanced production technology, the resulting fuel can be used in any diesel engine without any modification, and without any negative impacts to fuel economy or engine life. The adoption of biofuel by Arbor School is a great way to remind students every day that practical solutions to mitigate climate change exist today and can be easily adopted.” 


Arbor School, known as the “greenest school in Dubai,” has made a distinct commitment to provide an education that builds towards a more abundant future.  


Living up to this commitment incorporates all aspects of the school—a curriculum that develops the “eco-competencies” to act; a conscious and diligent approach to reducing their ecological footprint; and the creation of a community committed to building a better future.  


The campus is utilized as a living laboratory and Principal Girven hopes to “model sustainable practices within our school if we then encourage and expect our students and community to commit to these same changes at home. If we want to be the change we wish to see in the world, our students cannot have a disconnect between what we are teaching, and what they experience each day at school. So, committing to changes such as biofuels is one way of showing our students how it can be done.” 


Recognizing the need for a student-driven process, Arbor partnered with Metanoia to complete a sustainability audit of all facets of the campus—including procurement, transport, food and food waste, energy and water usage, uniforms, and facilities management.  


“I was surprised to find that as a community, we travel almost 5 million kilometers annually simply to get to and from school each day,” Girven said. “Once we knew this, we had to act. Transitioning our bus fleet to biofuels and carrying out an awareness campaign to increase ridership will have a huge and relatively fast impact on our carbon footprint, as well as reducing traffic, reducing airborne pollutants and decreasing pressures on parking within the community. It is a systemic solution.” 


So what future plans does Arbor have to continue to reduce its footprint, particularly in the UAE’s “Year of Sustainability?” 


“As a member of TASS, we recognize that our biggest impact will be in four areas—food, facilities, transport and school uniforms,” Girven stated. “We have made progress in each of these areas but continue to focus on facilities improvements—including renewable energy sources. However, the biggest challenge is to ensure our curriculum builds the kind of education that means our students will now go forth into the world with the intent and capability to act. They will become codesigners of a ‘greener’ future. The UAE has launched the Green Education Framework and we intend to go above and beyond this to bring our mission and vision to life, a world where there is ‘enough for all, forever.’”  



Clark benson
Clark benson
6 days ago

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Adam Stephens
Adam Stephens
Jun 04

I would really like to study in Dubai, there are very cool colleges and there is not a big workload in studying, not like in my college, that without nursing writing service it is already unrealistic to write something on your own. It's a pity that not all educational institutions are like this :(

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