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Why I love… Eco-Schools’ Count Your Carbon tool

February 6, 2024, 8:00 GMT+1
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Why I love… Eco-Schools’ Count Your Carbon tool
  • Emma Powell, assistant principal and sustainability lead at Darlinghurst Academy, discusses the impact of Eco-schools' Count Your Carbon tool
Why I love… Eco-Schools’ Count Your Carbon tool

Name: Emma Powell – assistant principal and sustainability lead, Darlinghurst Academy
About us: Darlinghurst Academy is a primary school of around 500 pupils in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.

How did you hear about the tool?

I heard about Count Your Carbon through Eco-Schools England, a fantastic free educational programme for educational settings that I have been a part of for the past 10 years.

This tool is much needed since the DfE has a target for all schools to reduce their carbon footprint by 50% by 2030 and have a Climate Action Plan in place by 2025.

It’s a fantastic way to start the carbon reduction conversation in your school, and it’s amazing knowing it’s available to all schools, nurseries and colleges in the UK!

How did you introduce Count Your Carbon to your school?

I was invited to take part in research with Eco-Schools and carbon experts Arete Zero Carbon to help develop a tool that works for people like me taking the lead on sustainability in schools.

My school finance manager also joined, along with lots of other people from schools and colleges to offer our perspective.

We talked about what the tool should measure and what information we had access to, as well as potential barriers to providing information.

It was fantastic to be involved in the development of the tool with lots of other nurseries, colleges, MATs and local authorities, and we were lucky to be trialling the tool in its initial pilot and helping Eco-Schools perfect it.

How have you used the tool?

Eco-Schools had provided a list of questions and data we would need in advance, the answers cheat sheet, which prompted us to spend time collecting the data we needed to enter into the tool, with our finance manager’s, catering team’s and IT manager’s support.

Once we had filled in the questionnaire, the tool gave us an overview of what our carbon footprint was across different aspects, including waste, energy and transport.

I was surprised to learn how much of our footprint comes from travel! The tool also provided a fantastic recommendations report that suggested ways my school could reduce its carbon emissions.

What difference has it made?

Seeing where we need to reduce our emissions has helped me as my school’s sustainability lead and will allow us to start mapping out our Climate Action Plan for how we will reduce our carbon emissions by 50%.

We instantly saw the areas where we need to improve the most, and it has also helped shape our Eco-Schools programme for this year, knowing that urgent action is needed in one key area.

Instantly, we shared the results with the SLT, staff and our Eco Committee so that the initial seeds for change have been planted.

As we move to finalise our Climate Action Plan, which has been a difficult task, the tool has enabled a further breakdown of the results that will help us to home in on key areas of improvement and continue to make evidence-based change.

The support the tool has offered has really helped me in my role and prepared me for meeting DfE Guidance with confidence.

Learn more about the Count Your Carbon tool here.

Count Your Carbon is brought to you by Keep Britain Tidy and Eco-Schools England, with help from Let’s Go Zero. Carbon expertise has been provided by Arete Zero Carbon, and the project is made possible thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery and Calisen.

Development was informed by months of in-depth research with those working in educational settings (including teachers, catering staff, bursars and caretakers) and within local authorities.