How to make green students proud of their school cap

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 March, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 08 March, 2010, 12:00am

Chinese International School (CIS) has pledged to reduce its energy consumption by joining the Cap and Trade Programme. The school signed the agreement with Teng Hoi Conservation Organisation, an NGO which helps Hong Kong students take action to save the environment.

The agreement covers the school's 1,400 primary and secondary students and runs until June.

'By signing the agreement, we agree to reduce our energy consumption in the school by setting a cap, or a cut-off point. For the energy saved in the period, we can convert it to carbon credits which can then be sold to other companies,' said Jane Harris, chairwoman of the Environmental Sustainability Committee at CIS.

So far 14 schools have signed up with the NGO.

According to Dr George Woodman, director of Teng Hoi, Cap and Trade began in the 70s, when America faced serious problems caused by pollution and industrial development. The US Environmental Protection Department found the cheapest and quickest solution was to set a cap for factory emissions. 'It is a financial mechanism which makes polluting factories pay others to be cleaner,' he said.

Talia Stender, 16, is a member of the school's Dream Green Team, which comes up with ideas to make students more environmentally aware.

'The biggest challenge is to get all of the students involved. Lots of children are very apathetic and I think it's important that everyone understands that individuals can make a difference,' she said. 'We can reduce energy and waste by taking simple actions, like remembering to turn off unused electrical equipment, and widen the margins and print double-side on paper. These are small things that an average person can do.'

At the launch, students were invited to ride on a bicycle connected to a light bulb. 'The point of the bike is to show just how hard it is to power a 100-watt light bulb using pedal power,' said Woodman. 'When I switch to an energy-efficient light bulb that produces the same light but for only 26W, the cyclist immediately feels a great relief as it is much easier to pedal the bike.'

A group of students from King George V School were also present. They explained how they've reduced their school's energy use by 10 per cent in the past three and a half years. This saved HK$600,000 on the electricity bill.

For CIS, it is crucial to keep their goals realistic. 'Our goal is to save 5 per cent of the school's energy by the end of June, and then to renew the agreement annually. Through the programme, we hope to develop a culture of participatory environmental awareness,' said Harris.