Schools are said to be responsible for more than 15 per cent of the UK’s annual public sector carbon emissions – the equivalent of 9.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. So to remind schools to take action on climate change, the People and Planet Organisation held its annual Go Green Week last week.
PPO education manager Jamie Clarke believes the younger generation is key to changing national habits, and they have the enthusiasm to see it through.
He says, “Students are leading the greening of their schools with innovative activities ranging from “can film” viewings where the entrance fee is a recyclable can, and the green police who are a group of students in charge of inspecting each classroom in their school to make an environmental assessment.”
Using IT differently can have a significant impact on emissions
Using IT differently can have a significant impact on emissions too, particularly by powering down ICT resources when not in use. "During last year's Go Green Week, students at Sibford School in Oxfordshire [pictured above] led a power down week, when all students and teachers were asked to make sure PCs and lights were turned off after use and windows in rooms were closed," says Jamie Clarke. "This resulted in a 24 per cent reduction in energy usage."
The only issue with this is the human factor – the students and teachers have to remember to do it. Redbridge local authority has been trialling software that will automatically power down computers when not in use. Verismic Power Manager monitors and controls PC usage. “We tested the software for two weeks in one of our primary schools,” says Gary Jelks, ICT services delivery manager at Redbridge LA. “Energy consumption was reduced by 32 per cent during that time. We plan to offer this product to all of our primary schools.” Verismic state that this reduction in energy usage would save a secondary school with 600 computers around £13,000 per year.
Schools can also do their bit for the environment by reducing the amount of paper wastage and more economical use of printers will help. Colmers School in Birmingham has been monitoring their print use since September 2009, when the print volume was in excess of 400,000 from 70 printers. By introducing print management software, replacing old printers with more efficient ones, assigning maximum print credits to students and giving departments responsibility for their print use, the school has so far reduced print volume by over 168,000.
Kevin Tranter, network manager at Colmers School says, “We forecast our savings would be in the region of £20,000 in 2010-11. Six months into the project, we found that we were saving in excess of our targets.” Environmentally, the project will be saving 40,000 hours of electricity, roughly equivalent to two trees and more than 1200kg of carbon dioxide.
Blatchington Mill School has also managed to reduce their paper output by distributing their reports electronically using SIMS Learning Gateway, Capita’s secure system for sharing pupil data with teaching staff and parents. “We would have used approximately 190,000 pages to produce our reports across the school per year. Switching to online has saved us over £3000 in consumables,” says Mark Leighton, assistant head at Blatchington Mill secondary school in Hove. “The majority of parents prefer this method of reporting as they receive more regular updates on their child’s progress.”