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Zero carbon schools

Reducing carbon footprint -
Saving energy at school and at home 

Forest Trees

Quick facts – did you know?


  • Fossil fuel-based energy like electricity accounts for 40 billion tons of carbon emissions per year, that’s over 100 Mount Everest’s of CO2 gases that contribute to climate warming every year

  • More energy from the sun reaches our planet in one hour than the whole world uses in one year

  • China, USA and India contribute greatest carbon emissions from fossil fuels globally

  • Climatic changes are accelerating with the planet heating, increasing forest wild fires adding to greater carbon emissions

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Forest Trees

What can you do in school to reduce carbon emissions? 


  • RESEARCH the appliances  comply with ENERGY STAR RATINGS

  • UNPLUG - remember to switch off when not in use. 

  • REPURPOSE and DONATE old appliances 

  • SWITCH OFF classroom lights if you are not using the room

  • CHANGE to LED lights are more efficient and reduce energy by 60%, 

  • MOTION SENSORs- in school buildings can save electricity

  • LOWER the heating in school or at home. In warmer countries raise the air conditioning temperature and keep to 22C to 24C

  • CHECK ENERGY SUPPLIERS – switched to more renewable energy?

  • SOLAR PANELS – on the school building generate electricity, reduce carbon emissions and move to being ZERO CARBON

  • Look at the net zero emission goals, check the energy monitoring 

  • REDUCE the WASTE including plastics, packaging, and food.

Teaching and learning resources​ for schools

UK schools and Let’s go Zero


Ashden, Climate Change Charity programme Let’s go zero is co-ordinating UK schools to take action on climate change by working towards becoming zero carbon by 2030. 


They have put together resources with other partners on climate action and Transform-our- World for teaching resources.  Schools have also joined nationwide campaign in the UK. Discover how schools are reducing their community carbon footprint


Adapt some of the teaching, learning and campaigning tools to your regional or country situation.



Transform-our-world, working with a number of partners have resources to help schools with environmental action and cutting carbon. Free sign up


Adapt the ideas and resources to your part of the world.



Practical Action have several resources that link to sustainability challenges to integrate with school curriculum. Check out the links related to energy



The British Council Connecting Classrooms brings together several sustainability resources along with connecting global learning



Eco Schools both in the UK and Globally work with Schools who wish to show they take Sustainability seriously


Eco –Schools Global uses three structural elements, the seven-step framework, the Eco-Schools Themes, and assessment for Green Flag schools.  Schools need to sign up from the Board, school leaders and involvement of staff for a long-term commitment to involve students in decision making. is part of the Eco Schools Global network



Seed – sustainability and environmental education have collated several teaching and learning resources.


Centre for Global Studies at Penn State USA have compiled resource list on teaching sustainability.  The focus is on the US curriculum, adapt the resources for learning in your region or country.



Carbon calculator to find your footprint

Below are some examples of how to do this.



Centre for alternative technology:  Learn and teach ecological footprint using carbon calculators and links to other helpful teaching resources.  See the link



Navigate and learn more information



Global Calculator is an open source model of the world’s energy system. Funded by UK and EU and developed by international institutions. An interactive tool to help understand how our lifestyles and impact on the energy used.



Giki zero helps to calculate your carbon footprint.


Conservation International carbon footprint programme helps to offset carbon. Try out the carbon calculator to get an estimate of what your footprint may look like. Measurements are US-based.



WWF find out how big is your environmental footprint



Eco schools’ projects have carbon calculator information and teaching worksheets from different countries.  Adapt to your local environment.



Royal Geographical Society Secondary school teaching resources

ECO classroom, school buildings and grounds

What makes a school classroom an eco-building?


  • Use eco-friendly building materials - research what they are

  • Use recycled materials which reduces waste.  These can include

  • Roof cladding

  • Internal walls

  • Recycled aluminum frames for doors and windows and rated for energy efficiency

  • Air tight structures means energy efficiency in cold climates.  Less air from the outside keeps the building warm and uses less energy to heat.

  • Use eco- friendly structural insulated panel systems (SIPS) that give good insulation to keep a building warm

  • LED lighting to save energy

  • Find sustainably sourced timber for building.  Check for FSC certification.

  • Use recycled building materials.

Teaching and learning resources for schools

What makes a school classroom an eco-building?

Take a look at Green Modular, who build sustainable modular classrooms and their eco-friendly classroom ideas.


You can adapt some ideas for your region or country.


The blog has of lots of interesting ideas to help you with research and designing a school project or get ideas for sustainable school buildings started.



Centre for Alternative Technology –  Check out their information site on what makes a sustainable building. Find out more about energy, eco renovation, building green living spaces, water and sanitation, nature and growing



SEED have a section on school buildings and grounds with resources to rethink how the whole school learns and practices sustainable living every day.



Find more learning resources on sustainable building materials here


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