November 18, 2022
Are Schools on Track with Singapore's Goal to Reduce Carbon Footprint?
On October 25th, 2022, Singapore Deputy Prime Minister, Lawrence Wong, announced the country was cutting its forecast for its carbon dioxide emissions in 2030 to 60 million tons of CO2. Initially, the government had targeted 65 million tons of CO2, and the reduction is equivalent to reducing current transport-related emissions by 75%. This announcement is one of the emerging notions of success from the effort to fight global warming by different stakeholders. One category of stakeholders working extra hard to help reduce the country’s carbon footprint is the schools. Over the last ten years, schools in Singapore have stood out for their efforts in promoting sustainability. They have shown the way, but the truth is that there is a lot more that needs to be done to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2030. Keep reading for insights on what schools in Singapore are doing to reduce their carbon footprint. We will also highlight additional ways that school administrators can use to keep their emissions as low as possible.
Benefits of Reducing Carbon Footprint
Sustainability, also referred to as ESG (environmental, social, and governance), comes with many benefits to schools, Singapore, and the entire country. The most notable of these benefits is that every stakeholder is sure of helping the planet to address the problem of global warming. No party should be left behind because the impacts of global warming affect everyone. Other benefits of cutting down carbon footprint include:
- It is crucial in helping schools, and other organisations cut down their energy-related bills.
- Reduced carbon footprint comes in handy in improving ESG rating for institutions.
- Can help you to win more support from stakeholders. For a school, stakeholders can include teachers, the ministry of education, the local authorities, and neighbouring communities.
- As part of sustainability management, cutting down on carbon footprint can help organisations with long-term planning.
Singapore’s Zero Carbon Emissions Target for Schools by 2030
As Singapore works on its plan to cut down greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2/3 by 2030, the targets for schools are even more ambitious. Within the same period, the Ministry of Education is targeting to achieve zero carbon emissions in 30% of the schools in Singapore. This focus has excited most schools because they feel their impacts will have a huge impact in addressing the threat of global warming. Some of the methods being employed by the ministry and schools include:
- Supporting Holistic School-wide Approaches to Sustainability
This effort by the ministry is aimed at ensuring that schools do not just focus on sustainability within their precincts but also in the neighbourhoods. Particularly, it encourages students and staff to employ the methods of cutting down carbon footprints back home. According to Lawrence Wong, the Minister for Education, this is crucial in supporting the country’s overall ESG goals.
- Using Demonstration to Prop ESG Adoption in Schools
When global warming, carbon footprint, and ESG are mentioned, some people find it challenging to relate to them. At the management level, it can be even more challenging trying to craft and drive strategies that deliver results. To make the process simpler, the Ministry of Education has created green campuses that will act as learning points.
Now, more schools are learning that achieving ESG goals does not have to be a major uphill task. The green campus initiative demonstrates that small but impactful actions, such as switching off lamps that are not in use, can help to cut down on carbon footprint. This realisation has made schools start looking for new ways of cutting down their emissions to overcome the threat of global warming.
- Integrating Sustainability in All Subjects
In Singapore, environment, and climate change form part of the areas integrated into a number of subjects, such as geography and sciences. However, this is not enough if the country wants to achieve zero carbon emissions for schools by 2030. This is why the Ministry of Education is focusing on ensuring that sustainability is incorporated into every subject taught in school.
Whether it is maths or music students, learning about sustainability can help to improve their behaviour both in school and away. Although a single student's focus on cutting his own carbon footprint through simple actions might appear small, the impact will be huge if implemented by millions of students. It is also vital because the changes will have impressive impacts even beyond the targeted 2030.
Pro Strategies that Schools Should Use to Reduce Carbon Footprint
Apart from the efforts we have looked at, especially those guided by the Ministry of Education, schools need to take additional steps to cut down their emissions even further. Here are some of the best strategies that your school board can implement to further cut down its carbon footprint and improve its ESG score.
- Make Cutting Down Carbon Footprint Part of Your Main Agenda for the School
One notable thing about sustainability is that your school cannot achieve much if it does not have a plan. Even if you pick some actions here and there, the overall impact is likely to be below par and difficult to sustain. However, planning for ESG in school ensures that the journey is prepared well and results are incremental. For example, if you manage to cut down your carbon footprint by 20% in one year, subsequent actions will build on this success.
When planning for ESG in school, make sure that every department's operations rhyme with the main target. For example, the finance department can ensure there is ample financing for different ESG activities while the transport unit maintains the vehicles in top condition to cut down on emissions. It might also encourage staff to cycle to work or use public transport instead of their own cars. Make sure that every department reviews its progress regularly to ensure you are on course toward achieving the targeted ESG goals.
- Partner with International Organizations for Support
To achieve more with your ESG goals, it is important to also work with international organisations. They come in handy in helping your school to understand the best ESG practices not just in Singapore but across the globe. Again, they can help you appreciate the huge impact of the actions you are taking for sustainability.
One of the partners that you should consider is Climate Fresk, which can help to build capacity for sustainability in your institution. The organisation can also assist you to identify and use specific ESG tools to simplify the journey for sustainability. Other organisations that you might want to partner with include the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) and Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).
- Use Alternative Sources of Energy
When the debate on cutting down carbon footprint comes up in different forums, experts always highlight the declining fossil fuels. This means two things. One, you have to work on reducing the use of fossil fuels as a way of cutting down the carbon footprint and improving sustainability rating. It is the best way to help save the planet. Two, we have to look for alternatives to power schools, homes and businesses.
In Singapore, the idea of alternative energy is an excellent one because we enjoy sunshine all year round. Therefore, you can cut down Scope Two emissions by acquiring and installing solar panels to supply energy to the entire school. Note that even if you only use solar to power one or several sections of the school, it will still come in handy in cutting down carbon footprint and addressing the problem of global warming.
- Use CONTINEWM to Improve the Efficiency of the HVAC System
This is another highly effective method when it comes to cutting down carbon footprint. In most schools, the biggest portion of the energy goes into running the HVAC system. While this is crucial in making the learning environment conducive, it can push up the power-related bill and carbon footprint by a huge margin. Using CONTINEWM helps to enhance the efficiency of HVAC systems and can reduce its energy use by up to 50%. So, how does it work?
CONTINEWM is an innovative device that is installed on the front section of the heat exchanger. As the AC system runs, the moving air and rotating parts create positive electrostatic charges that create resistance to airflow. This makes the AC work harder and use more energy. However, CONTINEWM releases negative electrostatic charges reducing the impact of positive charges. The effect is a smooth flow of air through the AC. Other benefits of using CONTINEWM in your school are:
- CONTINEWM is pretty easy to install in your HVAC system.
- It can help to improve air quality by removing bad odours.
- The device requires limited maintenance after installation in your HVAC system.
- It helps to optimise the effectiveness of the HVAC system in schools.
- Can help to increase the lifespan of your HVAC system.
This post has demonstrated that schools are indeed on track with Singapore's goal of cutting down its carbon footprint. Indeed, the government has adopted impressive structures to support the ambitious target of zero carbon emissions for schools by 2030, but that alone is not enough. Your school management should also use the strategies we have listed in this post to improve its sustainability score and cut down carbon footprint with a bigger margin.