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Earth Week at ISB plus new report on school’s sustainability goals

A group of students with placards bearing sustainability messages

By Nick Yates, ISB Communications

Published on Monday, April 18, 2022

A single Earth Day isn’t enough for the International School of Beijing (ISB)! As the world prepares to celebrate the annual day of support for environmental protection on Friday, ISB students have organized Earth Week.

The five days of activity starting today will raise awareness of sustainability issues and aim to inspire more green leaders in the student body and ISB community.

ISB is a pioneer of sustainability in international schools. Three years ago, a long-term plan managing the school’s impact on people and the planet was drawn up in a process led by a dedicated sustainability manager on staff. With a lot of input from students and inspiration from organizations around the world including Harvard University and Unilever that have done likewise, ISB created a five-year roadmap with firm targets and commitments.

A commitment of the roadmap was to be open and transparent about progress made. Today, the school fulfills this commitment once again by publishing the second ISB Sustainability Impact Report, covering the 2020-2021 academic year. ISB was the first school in the world to publish such a report.

The new Sustainability Impact Report features successes including…

  • ISB reduced its “Scope 1 and 2” emissions by a staggering 81 percent in 2020 and 79 percent in 2021 compared to its 2018 baseline. This places ISB well beyond the level required to meet the highest ambition of the Paris Agreement, limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. These reductions were predominately from ISB’s switch to renewable wind power at the start of 2020.

  • ISB’s Net Impact club was awarded a top international prize for its bus electrification project in 2020. ISB’s bus fleet continues to operate these 27 buses, driving over 600,000 kilometers these past two years.

  • ISB’s new Early Years Learning Community is a masterclass in biophilic design, an approach to increase occupant connectivity to the natural environment. The award-winning space leans heavily on natural elements including wood flooring, furniture and signs, usage of natural colors for the walls and soft furniture, potted plants, bamboo garden, and even a fish tank built into one of the walls. This type of design has been shown to improve student and staff performance and well-being.

  • ISB has coordinated with its food service vendor to develop standards for nutrition, labeling, sourcing, and impact. The plan is now to conduct staff, student, and parent workshops soon to obtain feedback prior to full implementation of the Sustainable + Healthy Food Standard next school year.

  • In 2021, ISB conducted a campus water audit to understand how and where campus is using water and identify opportunities for reduced water use.

With a big focus on teaching about environmental issues at ISB, a lot of activity is driven by students. There are many sustainability service-learning projects and clubs such as Greenkeepers, Net Impact ISB, Roots & Shoots, and Habitat for Humanity. Student-led projects have included a school-wide recycling system and a promotional campaign culminating in a day when the lights were dimmed in the school corridors to illuminate climate change.

These graphics show first what’s planned across the school then for High School students for Earth Week:

Earth Week All School graphic 1,200 blurred

Earth Week HS graphic 1,200 blurred

Paola Alonso, ISB’s new Sustainability Manager, said, “I could not agree more with Earth Days theme this year, Invest in Our Planet. This statement encompasses all the actions that as a community we have embraced at ISB to contribute to the efforts that many people in the world are making to create a more sustainable future for this generation and the ones to come. 

“ISB is a great example of how when people come together, great things can happen. I am very proud of our students and staff members for being so committed and compassionate to our planet. I hope that the work we do in ISB can continue to spark others’ interest in the well-being of people and the environment.”

ISB is an extraordinary school, made so by a tradition of educational excellence spanning 40 years. Establishing, nurturing, and growing such an exceptional learning community has been and remains intentional; we work hard to build strong relationships so our learning is at its best.

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