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Cottage School looks towards a greener future

Clarence Climate Action – Climate Champions

At the beginning of 2021, the Cottage School in Bellerive signed up to the Climate Clever program, which helps participants measure and reduce their carbon and environmental impacts. Cottage School teacher Lee Cody said it was easy to sign up for the program.

Cottage School students Anders Gale and Gabrielle Ward audit their classroom for electricity use.
Cottage School students Anders Gale and Gabrielle Ward audit their classroom for electricity use.

“There’s a real anxiety in kids and families about climate change, and this looked like a positive, action-based, hopeful program,” Cottage School teacher Lee Cody said.

“You do an online submission form and someone gets back to you straight away.

“They told us that the best thing for any school was to get their local council on board.”

Ms Cody spoke to Helen Peters, the climate change officer at Clarence Council, who agreed to run a pilot program in partnership with the school.

“Council will look at the data and how it works in this small community, and then see how they might engage with other schools and homes in the municipality to reduce utility costs and carbon footprints,” Ms Cody said.

Ms Cody said the program was designed to work with the kids and give them the knowledge to make changes.

“First we uploaded all our bills back to 2018 to get a baseline carbon footprint,” she said.

“This will allow us to track comparisons, like how much electricity we use this year compared to last year.

“Now we’re up to the audit stage.

“The grade fives and sixes are looking at our lighting, heating, electrical appliances, security systems, and what sort of hot water we have.

“They’re also thinking hard about what’s drawing power like exit signs, which are on all the time.

“They’re asking questions like, is a kettle more efficient than an urn?”

Once the audit is done, the school will decide on actions.

“The Climate Clever people recommend no-cost actions as the best ones to start with, like turning off the urn and hot water during holidays, switching off fridges, and by turning things like televisions off instead of leaving them on standby,” Ms Cody said.

There are also low-cost actions, such as composting, growing a kitchen garden, recycling used batteries, and not selling bottled water.

“We already do a lot of these, which is really affirming,” Ms Cody said.

Finally, there are the high-cost actions such as replacing lights with LEDs, putting timers on central heating, buying solar panels.

Ms Cody hoped the program would make her students feel empowered and teach them that small actions add up to big ones.

“We’re also hoping that others in the community, especially other schools, will see what we’re doing and why.”

The Cottage School was the most recent nomination for Clarence Climate Action’s Climate Champions campaign.

Eastern Shore Sun, July 2021, page 23