We all know that the kids get it when it comes to electric cars, especially Teslas. Efficient use of the energy is a little harder to instill — try training the kids to turn off the light when they leave the room. On that note, Vanessa Rauland was inspired to create an app that teaches us how to manage our energy use. She started with one high school in Perth, Western Australia, her app — ClimateClever.— The idea came to her while she was doing her PhD on decarbonizing cities.
Over the last two years, Australia has experienced drought and bushfires exacerbated by climate change. This is leading to greater anxiety amongst children. And it has been made worse by the COVID outbreak and the intermittent lockdowns. Kids need to be aware, and they need to know that they can do something about it. Using the ClimateClever app, schools are educating, changing behaviours, and saving money.
“ClimateClever’s first pilot with 15 schools demonstrated average financial savings of $16 per student ($4,800 for a school of 300 students) and a 20% reduction in carbon emissions,” said Dr Rauland. “Since our national launch of the App in 2018, over 50 schools have participated in the program, reducing their own carbon footprint and bills.”
The ripple effect, as students take their new knowledge and habits home, means that communities are decarbonizing as well. The school becomes a living laboratory to help teach STEM, digital technologies, and sustainability. Accurate real-world data is produced that influences behavior change.
Students and their wider community are motivated to make better use of energy resources by seeing the impact of their actions. Further curriculum materials are also provided.
Lynwood Senior High School has saved over $20,000 on electricity bills and $8,000 on gas bills. Principal Geri Hardy, who was also Principal of the first Carbon Neutral School in Australia, says, “ClimateClever has helped us to track our utility data on an ongoing basis, which has proved invaluable to understanding where savings can be made. It also provides great project-based learning opportunities for our students.”
Rauland wants to create a network of climate champions who will save the planet while they are saving money. The ClimateClever app provides comparison data to allow users to measure their progress in that regard.
“I know as individuals, we sometimes feel powerless and that as one person, we don’t make a difference. But collectively, our actions can be very powerful.”
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