In light of the global warming crisis, governments across the world have committed to greener living. From cutting back auto carbon emissions to ensuring new builds are constructed with greener materials – a lot of schemes have been put into place to reduce society’s carbon footprint.
One particular program which is helping to create a better environment is the Eco Schools program – a unique pupil-led initiative which has so far delivered extraordinary results.
What is it and why does it help?
The Eco Schools program provides a seven-step process which schools can follow to gain the Eco Schools Green Flag Award. Free resources are provided for each step, and it’s estimated to take 12-18 months to complete the steps after a school is registered.
The program gets children involved in a hands-on way, giving them environmental projects to complete. This gives the children first-hand experience and the education required to help make them more environmentally aware. Once a school receives the Green Flag Award, it can display the flag outside the school, or in the foyer. It’s a long-term program which encourages schools to continually adapt and participate in green projects.
Of course, education is only part of the solution. That’s why focus is also being placed onto the buildings themselves. One school has managed to develop one of the eco-friendliest buildings in the UK.
The Howe Dell primary school features toilets which flush using natural rainwater and the playground is used to heat the building. These are just a couple of its impressive eco-friendly features. The school also won the Eco Schools Green Flag for its additional sustainable education classes.
How the UK is tackling greener builds
The regulations for new builds have changed in recent years. In a bid to tackle global warming, the government has introduced new guidelines to ensure new builds are constructed to be as environmentally friendly as possible.
In particular, all new builds need to have adequate insulation installed, along with efficient energy systems. Even the materials builders use should be sustainable. There’s no doubt buildings are becoming greener, particularly schools.
It’s not all positive however. The UK government has pledged to build an additional 500 free schools by 2020. However, it has faced criticism for leaving many existing schools in disrepair whilst it spends on new ones. The Royal Institute of British Architects revealed just a year ago that dilapidated and dangerous school buildings were negatively affecting pupil performance and also putting them at risk.
So, while the new greener builds are certainly a positive step, more does need to be done to improve the sustainability of existing buildings. There’s many ways older school buildings can be improved upon without the need to knock them down and start again. Many schools are discovering the benefits of new smoke vent systems from Rocburn Limited for example.
Escape routes in schools and other commercial buildings, need to be kept smoke free in order to ensure safety. It’s a legal requirement, yet older systems aren’t as efficient as they could be. The newer ventilation systems help to keep escape routes free of smoke, while also helping to limit carbon dioxide exposure.
There may still be a long way to go, but the Eco Schools program, along with the numerous sustainability building schemes in the UK, are helping to create a better environment. New school buildings are now being constructed with sustainable materials and an eco-friendly design. After the success the Howe Dell primary school has had with its eco-friendly operation, it’s only a matter of time before ore schools follow suit.