School projects granted £100k each in campaign to cut carbon

Five sustainability projects working with UK schools will each receive £100,000 to boost green measures, and reduce carbon emissions, as part of a national campaign coordinated by climate action charity, Ashden.

The funding is a new development for the Let’s Go Zero campaign, which unites schools across the UK to work together to become zero carbon by 2030.

The Zero Carbon Fund is a one-off grants scheme financed by Green Future Investments Ltd, supporting the five organisations over the course of 12 months. The purpose is to help them scale up their innovative work with schools as quickly as possible.

All the projects support young people aged 18 and below and cover a range of sustainability issues relevant to schools including food, retrofit of schools and energy efficiency, carbon reduction, and training for staff.

Alex Green, head of Let’s Go Zero, said: “Through this Zero Carbon Fund we have discovered some really bold and innovative projects that will help schools implement exciting and impactful solutions, which bring about long-standing change in educational settings.

“To win the grants, applicants had to demonstrate how their work is addressing a compelling need and how they will measure that impact, sustain the project beyond the funding, and outline long-term goals.

“We prioritised those that focus on less-advantaged areas and those that include youth and community voices in decision-making. We’re incredibly excited to see what sort of changes will be made over the next year by each of the five winners to help schools make great strides in their journey to being zero carbon.”

The Let’s Go Zero campaign is coordinated by the climate solutions charity, Ashden, and is supported by a coalition of organisations. These include Global Action Plan, WWF, Fairtrade, Eco-Schools, Sustrans, Carbon Trust, Soil Association, the Tree Council, WRAP, and more. There are now more than 2,900 schools, colleges and nurseries around the UK signed up to the campaign.

Projects funded

Keep Britain Tidy’s Eco-Schools: The Playground

This project will develop the ‘Playground’ – a completely new section of the ‘Count Your Carbon’ website that allows staff and pupils to take their most recent carbon footprint, apply hypothetical changes (school policies, actions, infrastructures) and model potential carbon reductions.

The Playground is intended to foster deeper understanding of a school’s carbon footprint and how to reduce it, improving climate literacy, and inspiring pupils to be more climate-conscious. It will enable a teacher to explore the school’s carbon footprint with pupils, before giving them an active role in reducing emissions.

Adam Flint, education manager from Eco-Schools, said: “Keep Britain Tidy and Eco-Schools couldn’t be more excited to continue our great relationship with Let’s Go Zero on this brilliant project.

“The digital ‘Playground’ will be a completely new section of the Count Your Carbon website. It will allow schools to take their most recent carbon footprint, apply hypothetical changes to school policies, actions and infrastructure, then forecast the possible carbon reductions.

“Along with knowledge and insight from Let’s Go Zero’s Climate Action Advisors, the ‘Playground’ will help schools create impactful and cost-effective Climate Action Plans.”

Retrofit Action For Tomorrow (RAFT) CIC – Zero Carbon Action Builder

RAFT is an architect-led team with expertise in deep building retrofit, community engagement, and zero carbon planning.

This project focuses on the development of the ‘Zero-Carbon Action-Builder’ – a data-led practical tool that enables schools and school estates to take smart, informed action to retrofit their buildings helping drive change, overcome challenges and develop pathways to zero carbon buildings.

It will convert RAFT’s site audit, project planning and community engagement expertise into a national-scale resource, accessible to any UK school.

Harry Paticas, managing director of RAFT, said: “Our new platform will integrate our deep retrofit experience within an accessible, easy-to-use and scalable tool empowering schools and school-estates to move ahead with relevant, practical and outcome-led action. Schools will be encouraged throughout to tell their stories and share knowledge to inspire wider change.”

Shropshire Good Food Partnership: Schools’ Food Web

The Schools’ Food Web demonstrates how the school food system can contribute towards school decarbonisation, build food resilience, and increase access to healthy food.

It will cover growing, preparing and eating good food, through experiential-based learning and activities at home and in the wider community. This replicable model will provide a path to sustainable action, the Schools’ Food Web system can contribute towards school decarbonisation and build food resilience while increasing access to nutritious food.

Jenny Rouquette, Shropshire Good Food Partnership director, said: “This grant from Let’s Go Zero will allow us to really look at the whole school food system, how it can contribute towards decarbonisation, building food resilience and increase access to healthy, nutritious food for all.

“The children of today will inherit a vastly different world to that of previous generations. Through growing, local procurement, cooking, eating, taste testing, the discovery of low carbon foods and minimising food waste in schools, we hope to empower food citizens for the future.”

Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS-UK): Fund The Future, Teach The Future

In the run-up to the general election, Teach the Future will run ‘Fund the Future’, a high-profile advocacy campaign.

Fund the Future will build on the reputation, progress and political connections of Teach the Future to unlock substantive new public monies for the retrofitting and rebuilding of the school estate across the UK.

Success will help the sector get to net zero much more quickly than the legally-binding 2050 target.

Liv Marshall, 16, Teach the Future campaign organiser, said: “We are delighted to have been selected by Let’s Go Zero. Through this fund, Teach the Future will run a high-profile campaign in the lead-up to the general election to secure commitments from major political parties to spend substantially more money retrofitting and rebuilding state schools.

“At the current rate of spending, the Department for Education will take 81 years to decarbonise the school estate. This massive funding gap is a disgrace and must be closed, so we intend to make this an election issue by engaging with candidates and by empowering students and teachers to share evidence of the poor state of their school buildings.”

Brighton & Hove City Council: Our Schools Our World

‘Our Schools Our World’ aims to create a recognised framework for sustainability in schools that focuses on curriculum and operational structures. Currently up and running in 90% of schools in Brighton, the aim is to set-up four hubs in different regions across the country to transform the way climate education and action is delivered.

The programme addresses sustainability in schools by delivering skills and knowledge training for staff and implementing a progressive curriculum for students. It fully and systematically supports the reduction of school emissions, nurtures children as change-makers, influences family behaviour and provides hope for a positive future.

Katie Eberstein, environmental education officer, said: “We’re delighted to be able to share the sustainability and climate change work developed in Brighton & Hove with four other local authorities.

“Through ‘Our Schools Our World’ schools will enable their pupils to have a deeper understanding of sustainability through the curriculum, empower young people to become change-makers and take the transformative steps they need to reduce their emissions and increase biodiversity.

“It’s a programme of hope and we’re very excited to work with Let’s Go Zero on this.”

Main image: Fund the Future intends to influence politicians to secure commitments to retrofit and rebuild state schools to be zero carbon. Courtesy of Ashden

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