November 16, 2022

What is a School Student's Average Carbon Footprint in Singapore?

Schools are walking the talk in their efforts to cut down carbon footprint. One of the ways of achieving this is by assisting learners in understanding personal carbon footprint and reducing it to help protect our planet. This is crucial because helping students adopt sustainability means the skills they acquire will also be employed in the community and in areas of work later to further promote sustainability. To help more learners cut down their carbon footprint, the first step is determining the current levels. This post takes a closer look at school students' carbon footprint to determine the rate and best strategies for reduction.


What is a Personal Carbon Footprint for Students?

Carbon footprint is the sum total of greenhouse gases (GHG) that are released by an institution, company, city, or country. The carbon footprint can also be calculated at the individual level. For a school student in Singapore, carbon footprint can be broken down to mean the emissions released through heating to make the class comfortable, transport him/her to school, and prepare food. Electricity and gas used for lighting and cooling via HVAC must also be factored in when calculating the personal carbon footprint of a learner. 

We must say that looking at the learner’s emissions at school does not give an accurate picture of his/her carbon footprint. For example, if the learner is involved in other activities away from home that release emissions, they should also be included. For example, if the learner uses a diesel car on weekends for game drives, the emissions should also be added to give the correct picture of the total carbon footprint. 

The average carbon footprint for students in school is 0.84-4.99 TonCO 2 eq. We must also say that the carbon footprint varies depending on education levels. For example, learners in universities have a higher carbon footprint compared to those in lower classes. This is because the hours they take learning in class, which requires more lighting and heating/cooling, are more. They might also be involved in additional activities, such as laboratory experiments, which release more GHG emissions compared to the junior students in Singapore

Why is Lowering Carbon Footprint Important? 

  • Comes in handy in helping to reduce the problem of global warming on the planet. 
  • A lower carbon footprint helps to provide a better connection between students and nature. 
  • With a lower carbon footprint for students, schools are sure to cut down their operating costs. 
  • It is an excellent way for schools to improve their ESG rating and win the support of stakeholders. 
  • Reduced carbon footprint helps schools to stay on course toward achieving the goal set by the Ministry of Education to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2030. 

Areas of Action to Help Students Lower their Carbon Footprint

Although the average carbon footprint for schools and students in Singapore is pretty high, the good thing is that there is a long list of things you can do to cut it down. Let’s look at the most effective strategies: 

  • Create a Good Plan for Cutting Down  Carbon Footprint 

The process of cutting down carbon footprint requires a clear strategy for your school. Once you have established the carbon footprint for an individual student in Singapore, go ahead and determine for the entire school. This will give you the perfect starting point. For example, you might want to cut down emissions by 60% in six years and 40% in the subsequent four. This will converge with the Ministry of Education's target of reaching zero carbon emissions by 2030

In your plan for cutting down carbon footprint, make sure to include the following components: 

  1. Well-defined key performance indicators (KIPs) to help you gauge progress. 
  2. The right data collection tools and framework to enhance accuracy. 
  3. A reporting model. This is very important because it allows you to communicate with stakeholders about the success achieved. The report can also help you to gauge progress and make adjustments for the subsequent reporting phase. 
  4. Consider combining carbon footprint reduction for the school and students with other environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals. As stakeholders, such as local authorities and the community, check the carbon footprint report, they also want to understand other efforts adopted for sustainability in Singapore. Therefore, make the report more inclusive using frameworks such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) or the Task-force for Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). Other items to include are the school’s board diversity and support for empowerment initiatives.  
  • Change Your Lighting Fixtures to Energy Saving Lamps 

One of the best methods of cutting student carbon footprint is changing the lighting fixtures. If your school is still using traditional incandescent lamps, the truth is that they are taking so much energy unnecessarily. Instead, you should consider installing LED lamps that use about 75% less energy. This implies that the energy that a student was using for lighting will be cut by 2/3 without changing his/her behaviour. 

The benefits of LED lamps do not end there. The new fixtures also produce high-quality light and last way longer than traditional lamps. They are also inexpensive and, in most cases, you are not required to make significant changes to your school's electrical system. 

  • Use Locally Sourced Materials for School Supplies 

If the materials used in school are sourced from faraway regions, they can easily push up the carbon footprint of the students. For example, if wheat used to make bread or other meals requires extensive transportation, the emissions released by vehicles on transit have to be considered Scope 3 emissions. Therefore, your school management should consider using locally sourced materials. 

Apart from cutting down carbon footprint for schools and students in Singapore, working with local communities can help to strengthen the connection. In the case of food materials, you are sure that students will be able to eat them when still fresh. See: why source from afar when the locally available supplies have more benefits? 

  • Use Natural Lighting and Hold Some Classes Outdoors

A significant part of the energy bill in schools goes into different lighting areas, from the classrooms to offices. What if you got a way of switching off the lamps and learning elsewhere for some time? You can do this by holding some classes outdoors. Subjects such as geography and biology can comfortably be taught outdoors. 

As the ministry of education in Singapore emphasises including elements of sustainability in every subject, teachers should be encouraged to hold more classes outdoors. The amount of energy saved by switching off the lights and HVAC system when studying outdoors can come in handy in pulling down carbon footprint further. Your school might want to carry out some review of the impact to determine the exact reduction in carbon emissions from learning outdoors. 

  • Train Students on How to Be Eco-Friendly 

As we indicated earlier, the carbon footprint of students in school should be extended to what they do on weekends and holidays. Therefore, you should look for ways to train students on how to be eco-friendly. For example, you should emphasise to them that they are helping to protect the planet by reducing their carbon footprint. Some actions that you should encourage them to take when away from home include: 

  1. Reducing their waste at source through recycling. 
  2. Cycling and walking to the market, where possible, instead of using a car that burns fossil fuels. 
  3. Training them to plant trees and vegetation around their homes. 
  • Install and Use CONTINEWM in Your HVAC System 

If your school uses an air conditioning (AC) system, it is likely to take the lion's share of the energy costs. This could easily push up the energy bill and individual's student's carbon footprint. Because Singapore is located in a hot tropical climate, the best way of cutting down this energy use and related emissions is to enhance the HVAC system's efficiency. You can achieve this through the use of CONTINEWM. 

CONTINEWM is a device that helps to remove the positive electrostatic charges created by the rotating parts of the HVAC system. These charges build up when the HVAC is running, forcing the HVAC system to work harder and use more energy. CONTINEWM works by producing negative charges that clear the stubborn positive charges. The effect is a smooth flow of air through the HVAC system, reducing energy use by up to 50%. 

CONTINEWM has won praise from far and wide because it also helps improve the air quality of the classrooms. Also, it is easy to install and requires minimum maintenance. 

  • Work with Climate Fresk 

For a school to achieve its goal of cutting down carbon footprint, it is paramount to have the right information. Often, getting this information to inform decision-making can be a challenge. For example, what strategies should you adopt? How do you make accurate carbon footprint calculations? 

By working with international organisations in sustainability matters, it becomes easy to get all the information you need. For example, Climate Fresk specialises in capacity building and supporting other institutions to get their sustainability journey correct. They have experts in different areas, from carbon footprint to ESG, and you can count on them for a higher ESG rating. 

This post has demonstrated that it is possible to cut down student carbon footprint by taking the right actions. Remember that even after taking the actions we have listed in this post, you should carry out regular reviews and compare progress with other organisations. Remember that working with experts on carbon footprint, such as Climate Fresk, can help to simplify the process and make it fun. So, do not be left behind!