A schooling in sustainability

An educational project has launched across Europe which aims to make pupils more aware of climate change and energy efficiency by incorporating sustainability into the curriculum.

An international project has been set up to promote sustainable development in school curriculums across Europe, creating fun and innovative learning tools for students that will help raise awareness of climate change and the importance of energy efficiency in preserving the planet and its natural resources for future generations.

Carbon Detectives is a three-year project looking to integrate the principles, values and practices of sustainable development into education and learning. The scheme aims to encourage and inspire teachers and 8-14-year old pupils across 10 European countries to reduce the carbon footprint in schools while raising awareness of climate change and the importance of conserving energy.

The main project output will be the development of a stimulating and simple to use website for teachers and pupils to monitor their environmental impact. Users will learn tips and techniques to reduce their CO2 emissions through behavioural and system changes and be able to share ideas with other schools. There are two key areas impeding the advancement of sustainable energy education in schools. First, the lack of a universal learning tool that would help engage and motivate schools to be energy-efficient and second, the lack of a forum or appropriate platform for schools to share energy efficiency tips and techniques.

As a result, learning opportunities and consequently, the implementation of efficiency measures in schools are limited. Carbon Detectives aims to enhance teacher and student understanding of intelligent energy use within the context of sustainable development and climate change, and provide tools to enable schools to measure their CO2 emissions.

A lesson in emissions
The project, which is being supported by the Intelligent Energy Europe Programme, is also looking to enable schools to reduce their CO2 emissions through behavioural and system changes and increase understanding of the need for intelligent energy decisions to be made at European scale.

To help it achieve its objectives, Carbon Detectives has developed a user-friendly website featuring a carbon calculator that works in 10 European countries. The website is available in the national languages of all partner countries. It is also organising an international web-based competition that will encourage schools to implement their carbon action plan and share efficiency tips and techniques.

A series of training events will be rolled out in each partner country to enhance teacher understanding of intelligent energy use, and Carbon Detectives will contribute energy efficiency information which can be included in lesson plans across Europe. Fundamental to the success of the initiative is the involvement of key stakeholders - governments, academic and scientific communities, teachers, NGOs, local communities and the media, all of which need to work together on a local, regional, national and international level.

Founder members include BRE in the UK, the Hungarian Society for Environmental Education, Limerick Institute of Technology in Ireland,Focus Eco Centre in Romania and TIME-Ecoprojects Foundation in Bulgaria.

If you are a local authority, you can support schools in your area to become more sustainable by integrating Carbon Detectives activities into your own local initiatives. For details go to www.carbondetectiveseurope.org

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