The Environmental Club’s Carbon-Neutral Project

Written By: Amy Zheng

We often hear that switching our energy source from a non-renewable one (e.g. fossil fuels) to a renewable one is a great step in being more environmentally-friendly. But another possible solution is buying carbon stocks from other regions of the world. School buildings may not be able to switch their non-renewable energy to renewable because it is not sufficient to keep up with the large energy consumption. The PCHS Environmental Club promotes and implements environmentally-friendly practices at the high school. One of which was their recent success in launching their carbon-neutral project. As a member of the club, I was involved in the process. 

What Is It?

The carbon-neutral project was our best bet to reduce the school’s carbon emissions. It would be costly to convert all our non-renewable energy sources to renewable, so as a group, we came up with the idea of buying carbon credits. The idea is that if we buy carbon credits from other places that use clean energy, we can reduce our carbon emissions, because some of that is canceled out with clean energy we are investing in. We used the money from our past fundraisers to invest in these. 

How Did It Work?

The club as a whole filled out a carbon-neutral application that asked for the source of our carbon emissions and what steps everyone at the school is taking to reduce that emission. It was a tedious process as we were all still learning the ins and outs of being carbon neutral. So we reached out to Mr. Sotherden for help, and he forwarded us to Mr. Rubin, the director of facilities. Mr. Rubin was very informative and open to helping us. He was able to get us the information we needed for the application. He even went as far as giving us a tour of the boiler room to help us understand where our water is coming from and how the building is heated with the steam from boiling water, which we found out was a renewable energy source. After filling out the application form with more knowledge, we got to pick three carbon stocks within our price range. 

When we were all done, we celebrated with pizza for our success and group effort. But why was this important overall? Carbon emissions contribute to the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. Excess atmospheric carbon plays a role in accelerated global warming, because greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, traps heat from the sun on Earth. This causes the Earth to be warmer; consequently, this excess carbon contributes to accelerated global warming. With that said, this project allowed us to reduce our carbon footprint. It is a small scale effort; nevertheless, it is a contribution that is better than no action. 

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