How Can Schools Become More Eco-friendly?

How Students and teachers help to address a sustainable future?

In 1962, a book by author, Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, was credited with enabling the beginning of the environmental movement.

"We stand now where two roads diverge. But unlike the roads in Robert Frost's familiar poem, they are not equally fair. The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road — the one less traveled by — offers our last; our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of the earth."

― Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

eco-schoolsToday, our world faces a great many challenges in the area of sustainability, ranging from setting targets for reduction of carbon emissions, to those small and simple things that a student can do to lower the carbon footprint of his or her school or campus.

The following targeted points can be implemented for schools and those involved in bringing sustainability to future generations.

City University in London has developed an Environmental Champions Network where students and staff are asked to help raise awareness in the following areas:

  1. Recycling - School students on what is recyclable and what is not.
  2. Waste Management - Learn to reuse, restore and reduce use - minimize the need to purchase
  3. Sustainably. Learn about the Wal-Mart Sustainability Index.
  4. Sustainable Travel and Purchasing - Alternative transportation such as walking, biking, public transportation, and car-sharing
  5. Energy efficiency - effective use of IT can reduce energy by implementing the sleep function on PC's throughout campus. End-users will have the ability switch off desktop machines and perhaps remotely control. Speak with your ICT department to find out more, or seek the advice of an external specialist such as this one for example.

Small thing make all the difference.

It's the easiest actions that can make a significant difference when many practice them. Students are encouraged to walk, ride bikes, and car-pool in most large universities in the United Kingdom and the United States. The art of urban gardening is experiencing a renaissance, not only in cities and towns, but on campus, as well. Consumers of all ages are inspired to recycle, reuse, reduce, and restore!

The SEED Program.

In the 21st century, specifically, universities and college across the globe are implementing energy efficiency initiative with innovative green technology using the most notable resource of all, the student.

The American Association of Community Colleges has implemented the SEED Center program (Sustainable Education and Economic Development) has a number of success stories throughout the United States. Here is an example of one community college and how students and the community have profited from this energy efficient plan.

The following is an excerpt from the SEED Center Success Stories Program:

Hocking College Spurs Market Transformation and Green Technology Development.

The Hocking College Energy Institute (HCEI) combines hands-on training for students with research and commercialization services for businesses—building a skilled workforce while helping to bring clean energy products to market. In the Appalachian region, where the manufacturing base has severely eroded, this initiative creates a crucial opportunity for significant economic development."

The United Kingdom and the United States have both defined targets for carbon reduction. The challenges that students face are being addressed as green technology advances and the use of these technologies impact target dates.

The UK - Flying the eco-friendly flag.

The United Kingdom is the first country in the world to set legally binding carbon reduction budgets. The goal of the UK is to reduce greenhouse gases by 80% by the year 2050. The United States, on the other hand, has not adopted a nationwide target date for reduction of carbon emissions. The United States is one of largest emitters of carbon emissions into the atmosphere in the world. President Obama has put forth several ideas for nationwide targets, but this has yet to occur. However, a host of initiatives and programs are in place regionally and locally throughout the U.S.

Going forward.

The most crucial challenge the student of the world faces today in the area of energy efficiency and carbon reduction is the sheer enormity of the task. Clean water, local food movements, alternative transportation systems, supply chain methods in retail and other types of business processes, waste management, permaculture, urban gardening, population growth, and green business practices are all factors in this transformative event in the lives of students today.

Each student, teacher, and learning facility must step forth and take part in simple actions, such as walking to the store, to more complicated endeavors like starting a recycling movement in a school. These are the ways in which energy efficient living will become a part of our everyday lives.

Helpful resources:

SEED center program - a review of the SEED center initiative.

Our IT Department - an IT resource that provides green IT consultancy to SMEs and the education sector.

Hocking Energy Institute - a direct link to more information, including a construction slideshow.

Environmental champions-direct link to the London government Environmental Champions website.

One Comment

  1. I think its worth mentioning that many points highlighted in this article also apply to business, and not just education. Good read though, very informative.

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