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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Basking Ridge, New Jersey, USA

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Basking Ridge, New Jersey, USA


Registered: December 2016
City/Town/Province: Summit
Posts: 1
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My name is Lucas and I am a high school senior at the Pingry School in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. Over the past 4 years I have been involved in many environmental initiatives such as restoring hiking trials, doing sea turtle conservation in Costa Rica, and helping Cuban farmers practice more ecofriendly farming techniques. But, this year I decided to do something a little different. I formed a group of three students and we conducted a carbon-footprint calculation for our high school, the Pingry School. We choose to this because one of our teachers told us that the school hiers a consulting group every year to do a carbon footprint. The problem is that they only have three hours on campus to do it, so it is very inaccurate. Thus, we took it upon ourselves to do a more accurate carbon-footprint calculation.
In order to complete the project, we each took a different sector of what could have a carbon footprint. For example, I was in charge of all of the travel that occurs on the Pingry campus, like student pickups and drop-offs, and all of the travel that is done by Pingry related trips, like field trips and administrative business trips. Other sectors included energy use for cooling, trash and composting, and energy use for heating.
The actual computation of the footprint was tricky. We had to do a lot of research on what the green-house gas emissions were for each individual emitter in our sectors. For my division, this was especially difficult because I had to send out a school wide survey that asked what type of vehicle do you get to and leave from school with (sedan, SUV, or bus), what is the total distance from your house to school and then back to your house, what is the miles per gallon of your vehicle, and do you carpool and if so with how many people. After this information was obtained, I separated the results into vehicle type and mile per gallon. Then with the help of a few teachers, I was able to figure out how to compute the actual greenhouse gas emission from every single vehicle. It involved dividing the total distance by the miles per gallon of the vehicle, which left me with the gallons of gas used by the vehicle per trip to and from school. I then multiplied that result by the average greenhouse gas emission per gallon depending on what the vehicle was. For instance, if the vehicle was an SUV and its miles per gallon was 16 and the distance it took for it to get to school was 32 miles, I would divide 32 by 16 and get 2 which would then be multiplied by the average greenhouse gas emission per gallon for an SUV which was 8.9 kilograms/gallon. So this value gave us the daily value for one person, but what if they carpooled with one other person. If they did carpool, I would divide the daily single result by the number of people they carpooled with because having more people in the car reduces the carbon footprint due to the fact that they aren’t driving themselves to school which would add to the footprint. Finally, I multiplied this new value by 172 because that is how many days we have school, which gave me the school year value per vehicle. And then of course, I added up all of the 627 results to get the grand total of everyone.
After compiling all of the carbon footprint data, it was clear that commuting was the major source of the total footprint. So, we researched some ways that we could try to reduce it. Two of the major ideas that we had were incentivizing more carpooling and adding in more bike racks. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people that don’t take the bus to our school drive separate from other people. Thus, a simple yet extremely effective way to reduce the footprint would be by carpooling more. In order to encourage this, we suggested that the school make some sort of incentive to try to increase the number of carpools. Adding in more bike racks is also another simple yet very effective way of reducing the footprint. We were able to conclude that a little over 33% of the school student population lives within a 5-mile radius of the school. But basically no one consistently bikes to school, partly because there are no bike racks. So by adding in at least one bike rack, the school may be able to get more students to bike to school. With all of this in mind, we decided to present our findings and suggestions to the head master of our school. Our presentation to him was very successful considering that we recently bought two bike racks and have increased the amount of solar panels on the school roof.
This project has really enlightened as to how much CO2 we really emit. It is amazing to think that just a little over 600 people emit 7.2 billion tons of greenhouse gases every year. And by adding in a few bike racks and having more people carpool every year our footprint can be reduced by significantly. Overall, this project has really given me perspective on how much we truly emit and how simple actions can reduce it tremendously. Thus, I have made it my goal to try and spread this message around my community to try and inform them of how small actions truly go a long way.
Date: December 30, 2016 Views: 2990 File size: 42.4kb : 270 x 203
Hours Volunteered: 45
Volunteers: 3
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 16-17
Area Restored for Native Wildlife (hectares): 96
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