Lessening carbon emissions in a school setting: necessary and attainable


Photo credit: Brandon Miller

By Editorial Board

In June 2020, Ford announced their plan to go carbon neutral, meaning the carbon emissions generated by them will be offset by initiatives that reduce carbon in the atmosphere. On March 31, Ford’s first sustainability and financial reports along with new environmental sustainability targets were released. This has led to thoughts about how our school can also be guided in the same direction to becoming carbon neutral or at the very least lower carbon emissions substantially. The price to become carbon neutral is costly, however, there are small and affordable steps that our school can take to limit their carbon emissions.

One way that we can help lower carbon emissions is by recycling. Our school only recycles paper products, so by expanding to metals and plastics we would be reducing the amount of carbon emissions released significantly. A 2018 study done by King County says recycling helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions that would result from mining virgin materials. Furthermore, because trash disposed of in landfills produces methane gas as it breaks down, all waste contributes to carbon emissions. Burning trash is also a bad option for waste disposal because the ash from incinerators may contain heavy metals and toxins which cause air pollution. Because recycling not only reduced carbon emissions, but is also cheaper than disposing of traditional waste, there is no reason why we should not expand our recycling program.

Another way that we can reduce our carbon footprint is geothermal heating and cooling systems. Geothermal energy works by pumping air or water in the ground to be cooled or warmed, when the ground warms or cools the air then it brings it to the desired temperature. According to REWIRE HVAC systems contain hydrofluorocarbons which are significantly more harmful for the environment than carbon dioxide because they hurt the ozone and upper atmosphere layers. This can cause stratospheric ozone loss and that is really bad for our health because it can cause increased chances of skin cancer and cataracts. Although geothermal heating and cooling systems cost about 40 percent more for installation than conventional HVAC systems, according to Earth River Geothermal, a geothermal heating and cooling system can reduce energy costs by 30-70 percent on heating and 20-50 percent on cooling. Therefore, by using geothermal heating and cooling systems we’re saving thousands of dollars every year and we’re using renewable energy so it’s good for the environment.

There are still plenty more improvements that we can take to help our community to become a healthier place but starting with these few changes will significantly reduce our carbon footprint.