Why not put schools at the heart of place-wide net-zero Carbon transition?

18 November 2021

In a bid to fight the very real threat of climate change, the Government has laid out bold targets, set ambitious strategies, introduced funding, and tasked all sectors to decarbonise.

But to protect the future, we surely must put the faces of it at the very core of our planning?

Last year I spoke to a council about their hugely successful recycling programme, and they told me that when they sent teams out to give school assemblies; recycling rates increased by upwards of 30% in the following weeks. They very simply put it down to ‘pester power’ – and in this case, children positively influencing the behaviour of their families to lead more sustainable lives.

So, with nearly all councils now embarking on journeys to achieving place-wide net-zero carbon, what better place to start than local schools?

Schools sit at the very heart of every community, not just as a place for teaching and learning, but often the glue that binds communities together; that connect families, links with local businesses and wider networks. And of course, climate change is a subject that young people engage with and, according to recent research, are increasingly anxious about, so we owe it to them to get them involved in the conversation.

Schools are also big consumers of energy and carbon: open dawn to dusk and often in ageing, energy inefficient buildings. Our research suggests that typically, schools account for between 30-40% of a local authority’s current carbon consumption, so it feels like a very sensible place to focus our efforts.

These were the key drivers for the development and launch of our EQUANS ‘School Zero’ product – a new, innovative approach to decarbonising the school estate.

We bring our extensive sustainability and construction expertise together to work with schools, councils, and Multi-Academy Trusts to benchmark their current energy and carbon consumption and provide detailed ‘Roadmap Reports’ that demonstrate how they can decarbonise and save energy.

Critically we also provided a range of curriculum materials and resources, including TED-style talks for teachers to engage school communities and take them on the journey.

Young people then become empowered innovators, see first-hand that positive steps are being taken and become champions of enduring change.

* View the School Zero product at https://www.engie.co.uk/places/school-zero/

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