There are over 32,000 schools in Germany with a total of 8.83 million students and over 790,000 teachers – plus caretakers and other staff. In places where many people are present, a lot of energy is consumed and resources are needed that have an impact on climate change. The size of the carbon footprint of educational institutions varies greatly. Researchers from the Wuppertal Institute investigated this within the project "Schools for Future" with the support of students at four pilot schools.
"When it comes to achieving climate protection goals, schools play an important role, because this is where young people can learn how to be as climate friendly as possible," explains Oliver Wagner, Co-Head of the Energy Policy Research Unit at the Wuppertal Institute. He wrote an article on the topic together with the two researchers Lotte Nawothnig and Lena Tholen from the Wuppertal Institute's Energy Policy Research Unit and Sebastian Albert-Seifried from the Ö-quadrat office. In "Making school-based GHG-emissions tangible by student-led carbon footprint assessment program", the authors illustrate how the carbon footprint can be determined and calculated with the help of a specially developed CO2-assessment tool.
The students of the Realschule am Giersberg Kirchzarten, the Freie Waldorfschule St. Georgen Freiburg, the Erich-Fried Gesamtschule Wuppertal-Ronsdorf and the Else-Lasker-Schüler Gesamtschule Wuppertal-Elberfeld were directly involved in the survey process. As part of the project, students from the four schools determined their carbon footprint using the CO2-assessment tool. They recorded the CO2 emissions caused by mobility, heating and electricity consumption, as well as for meals in the school canteen and for consumables (paper). For example, they researched the necessary data and requested information from the school administration. To evaluate mobility, they created a questionnaire to find out which means of transport pupils, teachers and other staff use. Class trips, excursions, and student exchanges were also taken into account. "The findings from the pupils' analyses not only help to raise their awareness of climate protection but also motivate them to behave in a more climate-friendly way," Wagner concludes positively.
The article in which the authors recorded the results of their case study was published in the journal "Energies" (Volume 14, Issue 24) and is available free of charge on the publication server of the Wuppertal Institute.