Today, on World Environment Day (June 5), let's talk about Shiv Nadar School that is known for its environment-friendly initiatives and was awarded the Green School Award in 2019.
ScooNews spoke to the school's Environmental Club Coordinator to understand what makes them a Green-rated educational institution. This includes embracing a resource-efficient facility that uses little water, optimizes energy efficiency, minimizes waste-generation, and catches and recycles water.
What inspired you to participate in the Green School Awards?
At Shiv Nadar School, we understand that environmental education provides meaningful opportunities for students to become engaged in real-world issues that transcend classroom walls. The student sensitisation programs like GSP (Green School Program) was one such initiative by the school that helped students to be aware of their daily consumptions and map it with resources available through an annual exercise.
Would you care to share some of the difficulties and success stories from the initial days? How did the school deal with major Green School Programme heads (like Air, Energy, Water, Land, Waste, and Food) and get selected as one of the top 70 schools?
I think the biggest challenge, as well as learning for us, was transitioning from an orange to a green category. The performance analysis report in 2016 was a definite eye-opener for us and everyone in the school worked towards bringing in the change.
We appointed environment club ambassadors who used to make morning announcements addressing everyone about the objectives of conducting an audit, actions required, and progress made every week. Environment club ambassadors also interviewed the housekeeping staff, kitchen staff and sensitized them through workshops and discussions towards reaching the larger goal.
All the six sections of the GSP Audit – Air, Energy, Food, Land, Water, Waste helped students to integrate elements of holistic environment education and link to the most challenging crisis of our time: climate change. The GSP Audit tracked all the critical factors (mobility, energy consumption, food consumption, biodiversity, water usage, sanitation and solid waste management) that directly or indirectly contribute to global warming, and empowered students to practice sustainable use of natural resources.
It was also a huge task to bring down the school's electricity bill. But through proactive yet simple methods such as deploying energy monitors, using energy-efficient devices and solar panels, we achieved our goal. The journey was long and required a lot of patience but at the end, made us all feel accomplished.
How did the journey, from 2016-2019, change the way your school practices being green? How much help were your Green Brigade and the teachers in the core team?
A Green School is a resource-efficient building one that uses little water, optimizes energy efficiency, minimizes waste-generation, and recycles water and provides healthier space for its occupants as compared to a conventional building. The GSP audit in 2016 was an eye-opener for us and made us introspect on why we were still in the orange category. We engaged with students and teachers to come up with newer ideas to reduce, reuse, recycle and map our consumptions.
The school implemented multiple initiatives like using glass bottles and steel glasses to serve guests instead of paper mugs or plastic bottles; adding a wastewater treatment plant to reuse water in flushing system and gardening purpose, among others. We conducted various environmental awareness workshops and action research programs regularly for the students to be aware of the fact that it is not a one-time exercise but a continuous journey. The core team members put their heart and mind to this great work by reviewing each section and putting pieces of evidence in the form of reports, survey analysis, comparative analysis charts and pictures to show progress. These efforts eventually brought the school good results.
Would you say COVID-19 has had an ill effect on this initiative? If it did, how are you planning to cope with it and what shall be your strategy when the schools reopen?
COVID-19 has made us realize that when we destroy biodiversity, we destroy the system that supports human life. For the past few years, we have been choking due to air pollution in the city. During our online classes, students are reflecting on the fact that pollution is going to come back in a much worse form if we ignore investment required for cleaning our air, water and land.
Post COVID-19, we need to understand that a growing economy needs to respect the capacity of nature. In the initial days of the nationwide lockdown, social media was full of photographs of blue skies and clean water bodies. Several cities in India recorded over 60 per cent drop in air pollution levels, and some even claimed that air pollution was no longer a real concern. However, it is not sustainable growth. We are still standing on the threshold of various environmental issues. Therefore, it is essential to devise strategies that can contribute towards healing the environment through ways like reusing old paper, digital learning, washing and reusing masks, refilling sanitizer bottles, among others.
On this Environment Day, what message do you have for educators and school administrations?
World Environment Day 2020 has brought us all on a new junction. It has compelled us to reflect upon the unprecedented events that are impacting our lives in a big way whether it is economic survival, locust infestation or devastation due to cyclones. It is time we come forward again as a community of educators and help our children make a difference through smaller actions. Mother Nature has always been kind to us, giving us more than what we need.
It is time to show a responsible attitude towards the environment to make it a better place. By caring for the environment, we care for ourselves and our future generations. The onus of saving our environment is on us and World Environment Day is a reminder.
Let us reflect on our goals accomplished so far and further actions to be taken and work towards it. We should give our students opportunities to delve deeper, think, reflect and be a problem solver! We need to teach our students to be compassionate toward each other, find new ways to help people around who are suffering. Let us pledge to act on simple actions in our daily lives such as save water, generate less waste, and follow the mantra of reducing, reusing and recycling whenever possible. We have to continue our best practices and make our students independent thinkers and help them find newer ways to resolve issues.