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Be Top of the Class for Sustainability

In April 2022, the Department for Education (DfE) published their Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy for the education and children’s services systems, which outlined how the U.K. education sector could embed sustainability and become a world leader in sustainability and climate change by 2030.

As a result, the DfE established a target for all education settings, including schools, nurseries and colleges, to have a sustainability lead and climate action plan in place by 2025. The DfE’s strategy is outlined through four key objectives: climate education; transition to Net Zero; embedding resilience; and leaving a better environment for future generations.

Genee wants to help the education sector in the North East get ahead, and start embedding sustainability now, using the Investors in the Environment (iiE) accreditation scheme. This staged approach to sustainability can help schools, colleges and nurseries identify their environmental impacts and establish effective actions to reduce them, helping them save time and money, and plan for the future.

Looking at it through the lens of the DfE’s objectives, specifically the ‘Net Zero’ element, education is currently the public sector’s largest emitter of carbon from buildings, making up 37% of public sector emissions. Because of the impact education settings have on the country’s overall carbon emissions, it is essential that the education sector takes action in reducing their environmental impacts, to support the U.K. target of Net Zero by 2050.

The iiE process provides the tools to help organisations examine their resource use, determine which resources are contributing the most to their footprint, and set targets to reduce these. By starting to measure resource use now, your organisation will be able to set realistic and achievable targets which can increase year on year to see incremental improvements, rather than a pressured rush to comply when demanded.

Taking stock of your organisation’s environmental impact and what steps you can take to embed sustainability will only increase your organisation’s resilience long term, another objective within the DfE’s Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy. Working through iiE’s staged approach can identify ways your organisation can reduce energy demand, and deliver savings.

Whilst there are many benefits to managing environmental impact to the organisation’s operations, there is a significant opportunity to engage directly with children and young people, who are increasingly passionate about tackling the climate emergency, and can use this knowledge to influence the wider community.

Preparing pupils for a world impacted by climate change through learning and practical elements also makes up the DfE’s Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy. Education settings are an important cog in the sustainability wheel, as schools are at the centre of their communities. Its important to use this position to address the climate crisis, the need for action, and demonstrate what changes can be made and how.

One education provider who has been through the iiE process is the Education Training Collective (The Etc.). Their Group Marketing Director, Erika Marshall, said of the iiE process, “The Etc. has had a great experience of the Investors in the Environment process, and this is largely due to the ongoing support from Genee. Going from ‘bronze’ to ‘green’ has involved a significant amount of learning and effort, but this has been a pleasure since the start of the process. Jo has a wealth of knowledge when advising on initiatives and evaluating progress made, and a warm and approachable nature which makes audits an opportunity to showcase our positive work in the sustainability arena.”

Through the iiE framework, education settings will not only be provided with the tools to manage their impacts, but also the resources to help them communicate their actions to staff and students. Through effective communication, your organisation can share its vision, whilst including your stakeholders and increasing engagement in the sustainability agenda.

For education settings to be a trusted voice on how to address the climate emergency, they first need to model the action themselves. This brings us to the last of the DfE’s objectives when introducing their Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy, to provide a better environment for future generations. In order to give students the future to which they are entitled, the education sector needs to lead by example and begin embedding sustainability within their own operations.

For information about how Genee can help your organisation on its sustainability journey email


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