By Matthew Yamatin, ISB Sustainability Manager
Millions of students worldwide gathered during the week of September 20 to 27 to illuminate the critical need for climate action. As global citizens, students at the International School of Beijing (ISB) are well versed in the ramifications of not taking action toward limiting planetary warming to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels, a target agreed upon by world leaders in 2015.
With this strong foundation, ISB’s Greenkeepers High School club in collaboration with the Net Impact ISB and Roots & Shoots clubs made the decision that to ensure their future prosperity, they must stand up and lead their community.
These student leaders developed pointed messaging and coordinated with school administration to have lights turned off in school corridors for a day on Friday, September 27 in a symbolic, yet impactful, display of support for the global movement. This new generation of leaders continued to impart the urgent message of action throughout the day.
ISB understands that change must start with oneself and has developed a five-year roadmap to guide its action (this roadmap will be publicly displayed shortly). As the roadmap will state, “We have a special role and responsibility to our students, not only in their development as compassionate members of the global community, but also in the protection of their planet’s future.” To this end, ISB will commit to sourcing 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources and becoming a carbon-neutral school starting in 2020.
The new generation of environmental leaders is not content at just spreading awareness, though – they are turning words into action. To shift ISB and the community in a more sustainable direction, they are tackling critical issues for the planet:
· Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) account for around 40 percent of a building’s total energy usage. Hannah L from Greenkeepers is leading the charge on this topic, having met with ISB Facilities on numerous occasions and surveyed the community on its level of satisfaction with the current indoor environment. ISB will be reviewing her recommendations with great interest.
· Samuel Y and Nadya C from Greenkeepers established a monthly trash cleanup event for the local community. The first event took place in September, when 12 students collected a total of six kg of trash and one kg of recyclables from areas near the ISB campus. Understanding that the act of picking up trash has only a short-term impact, they took the next step to catalog their findings and communicate the critical need of keeping trash out of the environment to local community members. The most common items found? Cigarette butts and plastic food wrappers.
· Net Impact ISB students are working to solve the challenges ISB has had with composting over the years. Learning from past failures is critical to establishing a system that will be sustainable for the long haul – further reducing the amount of waste ISB sends to landfill/incinerators.