In December 2015, delegates from nearly 200 countries gathered in Paris, France with a singular goal: to reach a resolution on cutting greenhouse gas emissions in a global effort to curb the effects of climate change. This massive meeting, otherwise known as the 21st Conference of Parties or COP21, culminated on December 12, 2015 with the approval of an agreement by all countries in attendance to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit average global warming to 2°C above pre-industrial temperatures.
I realize this agreement is not perfect and critics on both sides of the issue have their disagreements with the outcome; regardless, this agreement marks a major milestone in global efforts to protect the planet we all call home. One of the biggest takeaways for me is that, as a global citizen, I have to do my part to keep our planet healthy for future generations.
Fortunately, schools in the United States have been making great strides to reduce their carbon footprints well before the Paris Agreement. In this issue of GreenNotes, you will learn about how two school districts are addressing energy conservation head-on, from using biodiesel and solar energy in New Jersey to opening the first net-zero energy school in Virginia. You will also read about The Solar Foundation’s Solar Schools initiative and the National Solar Schools Consortium; one woman’s quest to share the benefits of white roofs for schools; and Energy Star’s Low Carbon IT Campaign, which is getting schools to reduce the energy consumed by their IT equipment (while saving money at the same time).
Reducing our energy use is not an easy task, yet it is the small steps we take that allow us to do our part in cutting carbon emissions. In the end, the choices we make today will be inherited by the next generation. As adults, we need to do all we can to support our young people and leave the world a better place. I am reminded of the words spoken by Anna Bell Hines at the 2015 Green Schools National Conference:
“Simply put…the environment is the problem of my generation. These problems are very much the burden for young people to bear. It will be the scientists, the engineers, and the activists of my generation that will get us out of these difficult situations or else suffer the consequences for problems that we did not create. It’s not fair but it’s the way it is. This is why Green Schools are a necessity. Not an interesting footnote or hippie nonsense. We need to be proactive by starting with young people.”
Let’s make 2016 a great year for Green Schools!