Over the last 8 years, successive members of our student sustainability team have worked tirelessly to cut our annual carbon emissions by 630 tons a year corresponding to a saving of £200,000 a year on utility bills and an improvement of 1 or 2 energy bands on all Display Energy Certificate (DEC) across the site. Additionally, these savings are set to rise significantly further when our latest Energy efficiency works are complete. Not bad for what is essentially a lunch time club, with all students and staff volunteering their time. This work has been led by our sixth form C02 Student Sustainability Team, with regular contributions from all other year groups.
With its large and diverse student population, Parrs Wood has a wealth of capable and motivated pupils to lead the way in making the school more sustainable whilst contributing to National and International Carbon reduction targets. Engaging our students in this work so they are capable of reproducing these results into the future is one of our key aims, as well as being a role model to other schools.
This has involved a broad range of energy saving, recycling and carbon offsetting projects, and our key message is that a lot more schools could follow suit. We’ve found that given the opportunity and support, students are keen to move beyond protesting and awareness raising, to actual problem solving.
The work gives students the opportunity to apply knowledge and skills learned in their academic studies to the real world and develops their ability to quantify issues in order to make informed decisions. Importantly, it makes them appreciate that, in the real world with limited resources, finding solutions is often not clear-cut and involves difficult decisions between competing priorities.
Successive student teams have regularly briefed the school finance committee and governors of their recommendations and applied for external funding; 8 major projects have been completed, and the 9th is now underway. Some key achievements are listed below:
- Successfully bidding for £2 million of external carbon reduction funding.
- Contributing to COP 26 International Conference on Climate Change, giving recommendations to accelerate Energy Efficiency improvements in schools (which are now part of the Department for Education’s latest guidelines for schools).
- Publications in Professional journals.
- Presenting at several annual conferences such as Greater Manchester’s Green Summit, and giving training to Finance officers, staff and students at other schools.
- Introducing a recycling scheme which achieved 100% avoidance from landfill in less than 12 months (winning an award from the speaker of the house of commons).
- Being visited by the Minster for Energy and Climate Change to be advised by our student efficiency team.
- Many of these students have moved on to related careers in Green industries – an essential part of tackling climate change in the future.
However, the school is by no means perfect and there are still lots of opportunities for each generation of students to make further improvements.
For further information contact Chris Baker (CO2 team coordinator)