Students at a Tasmania high school are riding bikes out of desire to combat climate change, implementing a dizzyingly-thorough transformation of their school building into an energy efficient inspiration.
It’s paying off big time, as they’ve helped save $44,000 in utility bills since they started their energy-saving activities, but it’s also inspiring young people in the community to take action for the planet’s future on a local scale.
400 students attend Huonville High School in Australia, which recently won the Zayed Future Energy Prize of $133,000, some of which was used to renovate a building to serve as the Zayed Future Energy Hub; a clubhouse where 13 volunteers learn and teach about how renewable energy can be applied to our everyday lives.
Among the myriad of efficiency modifications, they installed solar panels on the roof, and replaced the old windows with double and triple glazed ones. They added improved insulation and energy efficient curtains.
They even have stationary bikes that create electricity to cook food, which in the case of a feature in ABC News Australia, were doughnuts.
The classroom was cold in the mornings, but the students wanted zero carbon emissions through their heating. So they went out and got a pellet stove, and then if that wasn’t enough, they went out and built a pellet mill to make their fuel from waste sawdust.
Powering one small building on a high school campus or cooking doughnuts in renewable fat fryers is nice, but will do little on their own to slow global climate change, but the Hub is much more about the big picture. Nel Smit, the volunteer teacher-head of the Hub knows their biggest contribution is exciting the minds of the next generation.
“This little school in the Huon Valley, is actually doing amazing things,” Smit told ABC. “It’s raised awareness of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and opportunities in the community for engaging them around that sort of technology.”
It’s not only the grown-ups that are excited about the project—now in its fifth year.
“Being part of Zayed has definitely helped me feel like I’m doing something. I’m making a change, and that has reassured me to not be so worried or frustrated with the world,” said Zayed Hub volunteer and student Aisha Fisher.
“Belief that it’s possible to stop it is the key, I believe,” said Christopher Allen, another Hub Volunteer. “We can act as young people, no matter your age, you have a voice and any action counts.”