This year’s annual U.N. Climate Change Conference, known as COP25, began on 2nd Dec in Madrid. Ahead of the conference, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres underlined the meeting’s urgency, saying that the climate crisis could soon reach the “point of no return.” What is still lacking is political will. The conference is important because it's where countries discuss how they can deal with climate change and get their country to net zero emissions. That means emissions from homes, transport, farming and industry will have to be avoided completely or - in the most difficult examples - offset by using renewable energy sources, planting trees or sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere.
In order to do this nearly 200 countries signed the Paris agreement in 2015. This agreement meant that the countries pledged to try and keep the warming of the planet below 2 degrees Celsius, 1.5 is the number that scientists say that we should hit by 2050.
MIS also has a sustainable decarbonisation plan and a clear goal to get the School to net zero emissions already by 2030. MIS wants to become the first CO2 neutral International School in Germany or maybe even in Europe.
To achieve this ambitious goal as a first step the School had to remove the more than 25 year old fossile gas boilers in several buildings and change its decentral heating system. AND our students need to be aware and educated about their voice & choice when it comes to sustainable behaviour and actions.
In 2015 together with the Language Arts & Design Center (LADC) MIS built a geothermal heat pump (100 kWh) with 17 up to 98 meters deep pipes. Our geothermal heat pump or ground source heat pump (GSHP) is a central heating and cooling system that transfers heat from the ground. For the first time MIS used renewable energy in the new green LADC building.
With the local start-up company Fokus Zukunft GmbH from Berg for the first time we defined the corporate carbon footprint of the School for the reference year 2018. The outcome shows that in 2018 the carbon footprint of MIS (gas, electric power, water, waste, transportation, etc.) was far too big to even think about a climate neutral status.
Overall MIS issued in 2018 (at least) 1.463 tons CO2 Converted per employee 6,09 tons CO2
In early 2019, MIS signed an Energy Contracting Contract with the local energy contractor Energiegenossenschaft Fünfseenland e.G. in order to convert to using renewable energy. By taking this step, the school will reduce its emissions by almost half and will significantly reduce the amount of energy use such as electric power, heating, ventilation etc. The five building phases of the energy contracting concept involve the following actions:
- Installation of new solar panels on the LADC roof to produce our own electricity (size/electrical power: 200 KWpeak) – completed!
- Removal of all old heating boilers in Junior School, Gym and Schloss – completed!
- Installation of the 1st combined heat & power plant (2 times 50 kWh) with buffer tanks
- Building of a central energy infrastructure (electric power/heating) on campus – completed!
- Installation of LED lights in all JS/MS/SrS classrooms to increase light quality and safe electric power - 70% completed!
- From year 2020 on MIS will only use 100% green, local and high quality electricity. Unfortunately because it´s too expensive at the moment we still have to use fossile gas.
- MIS banned plastic bottles from the Cafeteria and installed water fountains in all buildings.
All these energy saving measures in 2019 were partially funded and subsidised by the Bavarian and federal state (approx. 35 %). These actions will help us to reduce the amount of electricity from 1.095.000 kWh/a in 2019 to 480.000 kWh/a in 2020 or 407.000 kWh/a in 2021. That’s a reduction of more than 60% and the green and renewable electricity will reduce the carbon footprint of the School more than 200.000 tons per year. AND since May 2019 MIS has been injecting surplus electrical power into the public grid (approx. 139.000 kwh / a).
That´s great so far, but unfortunately not sufficient to reach our eco goals at MIS!
Next specific steps to further decrease our carbon footprint at our amazing School will be …
- Installation of a 2nd combined heat & power plant over summer 2020
- MIS will install solar panels on the new quadruple gym (at least additional 200 kWp) and maybe also in the car park combined with electric filling stations in 2020/21.
- Completion of the LED classroom and further LED light improvements (offices, corridors, parking slot, gym 3) in SY 2019/20
- Using beside 100% green electricity also 100% green gas since 2022
- Reduce the amount of paper usage by decreasing the number of school printers / copier machines starting in 2020 and using 100% recycled paper with the label “Blauer Engel”
- MIS will focus on greener purchasing at school
- MIS will further reduce the amount of regional beef and meat and offer more vegetarian food in the Cafeteria
Maybe the biggest challenge for the School is mobility and student and adult transfer. Here we might have to compensate carbonisation through funds / climate certificates and planting further trees – also on our campus. Mid- and long-term MIS should also store energy we are not using over the school breaks.
In response to the UN Climate Summit in Madrid, we would like to share that MIS has received the THREE STAR (highest level) Eco-Award “Environmental School in Europe / International Agenda 21” for two consecutive years which makes this the third year that MIS has won the European Eco-School Award. We will share further information about the student eco projects soon with some photos on our website.
Congratulations to all ECO Committee members and especially our students being the drivers of eco projects in SY 2018/19! MIS is going to receive the eco school award in a special ceremony together with other private and public schools on Dec. 9th. We will proudly present the eco school certificate 2019 and the eco school flag in or next to the new ECO School Notice Board in the Cafeteria.
If you would like to support our high efforts to become a climate neutral school by 2030 or if you might have any ideas or questions, please let me as Chair of the ECO Committee know (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Now I wish you a relaxing and great Christmas Break together with your family and friends… and a wonderful start of the New Year 2020!
Chief Operations Officer (COO)