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Local Students Lead Worldwide Effort to Reduce Carbon Footprint

Cool School Challenge Reaches Major Milestone Saving One Million Pounds of CO2

On December 16, 2009, the Cool School Challenge officially broke 1 million pounds of CO2 savings - a very timely milestone as world leaders gather in Copenhagen for the UN Climate Conference.

Initiated in Redmond High School, outside of Seattle, the Cool School Challenge motivates students, teachers and school districts from all over the world to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2,000 pounds or more per classroom, per school year. At the heart of the Cool School Challenge is the philosophy that big changes start with small steps - and taken together, simple individual actions create a world of difference.

Two years into the program, the collective small steps of 68 schools have indeed resulted in a big change. By conducting audits of classroom energy, solid waste, heating and transportation behaviors, students identify opportunities to improve efficiency, reduce waste and shrink their school’s carbon impact.

“The Challenge was an opportunity to decrease our carbon footprint by making small changes like turning off lights and power strips.” said Jenessa, a 10th grade student from Nooksack Valley High School in Whatcom County. “Not only did the students learn from this experience but even teachers confessed they had no idea these changes could make a difference.”

The Cool School Challenge started at Redmond High School, but quickly expanded to other schools in Washington State as well as to Colorado, Florida, Illinois, New York, California and even Dubai with the help of program partners including Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, Puget Sound Energy, Washington Department of Ecology, Northwest Clean Air Agency and RE Sources for Sustainable Communities.

“The Cool School Challenge demonstrates the power of collective action,” said Katie Fleming, the Education Coordinator at RE Sources for Sustainable Communities. “1 million pounds of CO2 savings is just the beginning for this program. Now the world looks to leaders in Copenhagen to agree to take crucial steps that, when united on a global level, will result in big changes for the health of our planet.“

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