Guest Blog from LESS CO2/Ashden, Alex Green (Schools Programme Manager)
At Ashden, it’s not just about saving energy to help cut costs. It’s about sustainable energy for all, which means improving people’s quality of life. We do this by telling stories. Stories about people all over the world, about their everyday lives, and how we can all help to create a world where everyone has access to sustainable energy.
In the UK, Ashden runs the LESS CO2 programme, which helps schools work together to save energy. Because nobody wants to learn or work in an over-heated, badly lit school. And, because understanding local and global sustainability issues will support a better quality of life for us all in the future.
Thanks to our Bank of America Merrill Lynch funded programme, through our series of workshops, the schools taking part learn about amazing schools and organisations that are taking action to be more sustainable.
The schools learn from Tommy, a Year 3 child from Marton Primary in Lincolnshire, about how students can become energy monitors and take action in their own school. Tommy explains how his fellow students all work together to make sure that lights and equipment are switched off when not needed. Tommy says, ‘Anyone can do it, it’s just the flick of a switch’!
The children are eager to get involved and encourage their other classmates to join in. They very quickly take the lead in their school’s energy-saving activities, keeping a sharp eye on anyone who forgets to switch off the lights.
We also take our schools a bit further afield to learn about using hydro power in two contrasting locations. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region of Northern Pakistan, close to the Afghanistan border, is one of the most remote and challenging areas of the world to live, but access to phones, internet and TV give them new skills and a window to the world. In contrast, although not remote, with an abundance of hills and streams, rural Wales is also the ideal location for generating sustainable electricity from hydro power.
Sometimes the technology is the real story. Across many continents, people are using wonderful renewable energy technology to help make their lives better. One example is biogas – using animal (and human!) waste to generate a sustainable gas for fuel. Our schools find our biogas resource film fascinating, not only hear about how it works, but how it is changing people’s lives.
And, hey, you show me a Year 3 child who doesn’t want to learn about the power of poo!
We inspire staff in schools to teach about sustainability, and to make changes in their own schools to save energy. Staff engagement soars when they carry out the suggested quick wins from the first workshop and realise the impressive results that can be achieved by doing something as little as turning the school’s temperature down by one degree.
Our LESS CO2 programme has shown that schools can become more energy aware, and when they are given the right information and support, they start saving energy. Schools that take part in the LESS CO2 programme don’t only improve their awareness of sustainability within their teaching, they also reduce their energy bills on average by 14%. Now that’s a positive story to share!
We are currently recruiting schools for the 2018-19 LESS CO2 intake. To find out more and register your interest, please visit our website at www.lessco2.org.uk