Compared to schools in North America, Europe and Australia, Chineseschools are much less invested in sustainability. Only a tiny fractionof Chinese schools have sustainable curriculums and fewer still complywith LEED building standards.
In fairness, it should be pointedout that the average persons footprint in China is five times smallerthan the average persons footprint in America. According to Global Footprint Network, when assessed as a function of global hectares per capita, China has an ecological footprint of 1.8 gha/pers, while the US has an ecologicalfootprint of 9.0 gha/pers.
In Chinese dorms there are more people in less space than at American dorms. Chinese students also use lessenergy intensive resources (like hot water) than their Americancounterparts. Finally most Chinese don’t own cars, whereas in Americacars are common even amongst students.
The Chinese Government,student organizations and educators are working hard to increase thepresence of green schools in China. Student movements like the China Youth Climate Action Network are trying to convince Chinese colleges to reduce their emissions by 20 percent by 2012.
China’s Green School Project is an initiative of the Ministry of Education ofChina (MOE), it is funded by the State Environmental ProtectionAdministration (SEPA). China’s Green Schools Program, which started in1996, is based on the international concept of ISO 14000 and has beeninformed by the European ‘Eco-schools‘.
The program’s key focusareas include whole-school environmental management and protection, EEcurriculum and professional development, and greening of school grounds. To comply with criteria to receive government awards, Chinese schoolsare engaging a series of steps. Since the inception of the program, tens of thousands of schools have received awards as part of this program.
The Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC) is also helping Chinese schools prepare the next generation ofChinese citizens. The Education for Sustainable Development program isled by a three-way partnership between educators in China, Japan, andthe US. Together, they are sharing best practices and developing aseries of activities that will encourage students to get involved inenergy efficiency projects in their communities. This experience willalso inform a new curriculum on sustainable development that willbenefit children in all three countries.
Although at a muchearlier stage of development, Chinese schools are adopting greenerbuilding practices and more sustainable curriculums.
Richard Matthews is a consultant, eco-entrepreneur, sustainable investor and writer. He is the owner of THE GREEN MARKET, one of the Web’s most comprehensive resources on the business of the environment. He is also the author of numerous articles on sustainable positioning, green investing, enviro-politics and eco-economics.