Wellington East Girls' College aims to become a benefit to the environment
One Wellington high school wants to stamp out its carbon footprint – and that's only the short-term goal.
Wellington East Girls' College's environment committee hope their school will benefit the environment one day.
To help them get there, the committee is fundraising for solar panels to be installed as part of the school's ongoing rebuild, set to be complete in 2018.
Year 13 environmental prefects Niamh Murphy and Josie Knight-Maclean front the committee, which was last year given the go-ahead to fundraise by the board of trustees.
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Knight-Maclean says it creates an opportunity to integrate renewable energy into the curriculum.
"The solar panels will give us an opportunity to ... teach WEGC students something unique and relevant about their school that links to the big picture of sustainability and climate change."
The main goal of the committee is to inspire and engage the school and wider community to make permanent and positive eco-friendly lifestyle changes, she says.
Murphy says the committee wants to lead the way with technology and designs "to the point where hopefully in the future the buildings could be giving back more than they're taking from the environment".
"The big goal would be that the solar energy made during the school holidays will feed back into the grid for the local community to use," she says.
"In the near future we aim for the school to have a zero carbon footprint with our long-term goal of having the school becoming a benefit for the local environment."
Knight-Maclean says the cost of installing solar panels that can provide 15 per cent of the school's power is $50,000.
They have run bake sales and mufti-days at school, and for the rest of May are involved in Z Miramar's 'Good in the Hood' fundraising programme which will provide a share of $4000.
The project is student driven, which limits the amount of time spent organising fundraisers because of having to balance school work and extra-curricular activities, Knight-Maclean says.
But she is confident in their efforts.
"Ultimately we want to have the whole school run off self-sufficient renewable energy and because of this the project has scope to grow and develop, therefore we will be looking at ways we can secure further funds in the future," she says.
The group has previously made visits to Matiu/Somes Island with the Department of Conservation, held fundraisers for animal charities and has a big focus on recycling and limiting plastic bags and packaging.
Murphy says if everyone did something to reduce their carbon footprint, the world would be a lot better off.
"I really think that educating people about the issues and providing people with information is the most powerful way to create change," she says.
"I believe that everyone contributes to the environmental issues facing our world today, so everyone should have the same responsibility to try make it right again."