Many of us talk about reducing our carbon footprint at home, but what opportunities are there for schools to do this? Speaking to your local authority to see what help and support could be available could be worthwhile . It may be a good starting point to do an audit on the schools carbon footprint, something the students can get involved in doing. There are a number of good resources for schools a tools for checking this such as Sembles and there is the Carbon Independent’s calculator . 

Planting trees by itself will not tackle the climate crisis. What is needed is massive reduction in our energy consumption and our embedded as well as direct carbon emissions. Direct emissions are what we use, for example through heating, using a petrol or diesel car or flying. Embedded emissions are included in things we buy that may have been transported long distances. Therefore if we buy fruit from a UK farm instead of from Morocco we are reducing our carbon footprint.  

Reducing the Schools Carbon Footprint 

Heating the School – how can energy savings be made?

  • Could you reduce your heating by one or even several degrees later in the season but without making it colder inside? A 1 degree reduction in temperature can make a huge difference in energy consumption, especially if the heating is on for less over the year.
  • Is the school building heated when it’s empty or virtually empty? What can be changed?
  • Are there opportunities for further draught exclusions anywhere in the buildings?
  • How is heat escaping the building and what can be done to reduce this? 

The School drop off

  • Who is brought in by car and who doesn’t really need to be?
  • Could staff and pupils walk or cycle to school more often, if not every day?
  • Could you share the school drop off with another family?

Students could calculate the carbon emissions from all the cars coming into the school as a project, then set targets for the school to reduce them each year e.g. by 20%

Electric Supply and Efficiency 

  • Is the school using 100% renewable energy suppliers? – This will make a big difference
  • Can any devices normally left on overnight be switched off? 
  • Switch off lights in empty classrooms, or investigate lighting which switches off.
  • Use energy saving light bulbs such as LEDs everywhere. 
  • Avoiding leaving school computers on standby and consider electing someone to be responsible for switching off all machines overnight. 
  • Disconnect other devices such as chargers when they are not in use


Do you have recycling bins in every classroom? Are they being used? Raise awareness of the issues and how much energy can be saved to get students on board with making changes. The Recycle Now website has lots of useful guidance on this.

Here are some areas to think about for the school:

  • Paper, plastic, glass, ink cartridges should all be recycled
  • Batteries could have one dedicated collection point in the school
  • Electronic waste – Could be sold as “ spare or repair “ to raise money for other school materials
  • Food Waste – If you have outdoor space for composting, this could be great compost to be used for the school garden or trees. 

There are probably lots of other ideas your students can come up with in addition to the above suggestions, and it’s a great opportunity for your school to be leaders in addressing climate change goals. If your school is interested in planting trees on your grounds, then get in touch and we can help to organise this!