“Carbon Neutral Kindergarten” to connect the earth to the next generation
There is a kindergarten named “Albert Park Kinder” in the City of Port Phillip, Melbourne, Australia. The school is operated under the policy that “young children learn so much about social standards, respect, imagination and problem-solving through play” and offers a high level of service which has been awarded the “EXCELLENT” rating by the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA). This kindergarten has been certified as Australia’s first “carbon neutral kindergarten” that does not produce CO2 emissions at all.
In 2014, five years ago, the kindergarten set the goal of making zero CO2 and emission, in other words, becoming a “carbon neutral” kindergarten. In order to achieve becoming carbon neutral, the kindergarten has worked with the Sustainability Department at the City of Port Phillip to measure CO2 emissions and to consider and implement what is needed to reduce emissions. First of all, it has begun to switch from electricity generated from fossil fuels such as gas and coal to electricity generated from renewable energy. The change not only was applied to the school facilities but also led behavioral changes in kindergarten staff, children and even their families.
In April 2018, solar panels were installed, which allowed the kindergarten to realize the first carbon neutral in the city. Since sunshine hours were short in May, CO2 emissions exceeded absorption; however, in addition to the installation of solar heat pump and energy-efficient LED lighting, by connecting four solar batteries to their solar panel system, the kindergarten was able to achieve carbon neutral again in June. After that, the school terminated the contract with the gas company, and in 2019, became the city’s certified carbon neutral kindergarten.
The fact that the school became the carbon neutral kindergarten has also had a positive impact on the education of children. The children are actively taking action to reduce CO2 emissions, such as reading the electricity meters, sorting compostable waste (the kindergarten operates four worm farms), and caring for the community garden. The certification by ACECQA was because these activities were appreciated; however, the kindergarten did not aim for carbon neutral for the purpose of being awarded.
“To take time to view our big, beautiful, blue planet from the perspective of a child is to truly appreciate the wonder of life from the smallest of living creatures to the largest gifts of nature,” says one of the kindergarten staff, Jenny Whelan. “We feel it is our duty to support the children’s love of nature by reducing our carbon footprint.” Perhaps the goal of becoming a carbon neutral kindergarten was set up with the desire to keep the Earth with abundant nature in preparation for the children’s growth.
Photo：Albert Park Kinder