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Journey to Net Zero: reducing our carbon footprint one initiative at a time

By Journey to Net Zero student group
9 March 2023

UWCSEA Journey to Net Zero student group

Journey to Net Zero (JTN0) is an environmental initiative made made up of Middle and High School students which focuses on eliminating energy, water and food waste on East Campus to reduce our carbon footprint. The group has initiated many fruitful efforts across campus to help achieve this. They meet weekly to brainstorm, bring together their ideas and discuss feedback from the wider school community in order to decide what sort of initiatives would work. They also collaborate closely with our Facilities team to discuss the effectiveness and feasibility of their ideas. Below are a few of the initiatives they have pushed out so far.

Solar Panels

The group was formerly called “Solar for East” – a recognisable name across UWCSEA for their work to install solar panels on East Campus. In 2022, they installed 916 solar panels on the Block B roof, across both the East and West wings. With a total of 1096 solar panels across Blocks B and C, the panels produce electricity which accounts for around 11% of our annual consumption. In other words, we generate 1.4x the amount of energy consumed by the boarding house with these solar panels. This is estimated to decrease our carbon emissions by 210,000 tons, which is equivalent to the emissions generated from charging 25.5 billion smartphones!

UWCSEA East Sami the Sun mascot on classroom door

Sami the Sun

Journey to Net Zero has also stuck “Save Energy” stickers with our mascot Sami the Sun on the classroom doors in Blocks B and D to raise awareness about these solar panels. The stickers also serves as reminders for students and teachers about the need to save energy by switching off the lights, the projector and fans when leaving the classrooms. You can find these stickers next to the door handles with a QR code printed on them. Scanning the code opens up a dashboard that has live statistics on the energy and power of the panels, the mass of carbon emissions avoided and the surrounding air temperature. Give it a try!

One Up initiative

The One Up initiative aims to increase the temperature of the air conditioning on campus by 1ºC to save energy and roughly $30K+ in costs annually. The air conditioning is currently set between 23ºC–25ºC. The idea of increasing the air conditioning temperature by 1ºC came from our Facilities team – they decided that this increase would not have much of an impact on the comfort levels of students and staff members on a day-to-day basis. In terms of actually increasing the air conditioning temperature, the team has to increase the temperature of the chiller plants which power the air conditioning system.

Journey to Net Zero has also been filming and producing a stop motion video to educate the school at large about the centralised air conditioning system and the effects of leaving classroom doors and windows open for extended periods of time. Watch the stop motion video below.

Future plans 

In the future, the group is also planning an overhaul of Veggie Wednesday, the weekly meat-free day for food on campus. So far they have collected data on Veggie Wednesday from the student body and plan on processing and analysing it further. The group has also arranged a meeting with our Food Services team, Sodexo, so that they can learn more about their waste mitigation strategies and collect more data about Veggie Wednesday.

Stay tuned for an update on Veggie Wednesday, along with other intriguing and exciting initiatives.