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SUSTAINABILITYA Green Frontier at HKISby Kaitlin Shum '24As the shadows of Covid-19 begin to lift, a new era is emerging for ‘ESG’, which stands for environment, social and corporate governance. It is an acronym often used to summarize the 17 U.N. sustainable development goals which companies are now racing to implement into their operations. As part of Hong Kong International School’s (HKIS) dedication to ESG, the school has been busy planning a big sustainable development project since early 2022. Without giving too much away, it will include a fully functional greenhouse on campus. Sustainability in Practice!HKIS Brings Sustainability Goals to Life According to HKIS’s Director of Facilities Management Raman Paravaikkarasu, this sustainable development project will move in three phases. The first phase encompasses massive data collection - converting numbers into emissions using a benchmark assessment. The assessment begins with an analysis of raw data from all divisions in the school, allowing the team to identify the average amount of carbon the school emits per day. The data collection process will accurately represent how much energy is spent, how much water is used, the amount of waste recycled, and much more. The raw data, also known as absolute numbers, is a term specific to ESG experts and is often challenging to translate to figures and quantities that a layman may understand. Through this assessment, absolute numbers can be reconfigured to data that the HKIS community and stakeholders may appreciate and use effectively to reduce their carbon footprint. This phase is critical; data must be accurate for the team to continue onto phase 2.
Once the data is collected and the baseline benchmark identified, the team can project short- and long-term goals for the next few years. In phase 2, the team can work on bringing these goals to life by knowing what is achievable and what needs to be further improved. Paravaikkarasu emphasized that he is committed to seeing this project from start to finish. It is not just talking about what the school plans to do but actually implementing plans and holding the school accountable. Among the many proposals presented in phase two, two specific initiatives will be implemented in phase 3 to make the school more energy efficient. The first is to enable current facilities to be used more efficiently, specifically, managing the air conditioning system in each room at the school, and the second is to introduce new sources of energy - one of which is solar panels.
Raman Paravaikkarasu, Director of Facilities Management, HKIS The Future for HKIS Solar energy is known to be the most abundant and long-lasting energy source in the world. It is also one of the most accessible renewable energy sources compared to other environmentally harmful sources, such as fossil fuels. That is why HKIS will invest in installing solar panels as part of phase 3. HKIS believes that, in the long run, harnessing solar energy will benefit the school economically and be a driving force in its commitment to social and educational impact. It has commissioned HK Electric to begin the installation process in 2023 in nearly all its facilities, starting with the residences at the Repulse Bay Campus. Notably, a television monitor will also be installed in addition to the solar panels, enabling faculty, students, and community members to visualize and track the energy collected by the solar panels on a day-to-day basis. ““It is all part of the ethos in being future leaders for the school; to get everyone involved and ensure they are on the right track for the future.” Why HKIS Values Sustainability The school has chosen to include the school community as a whole in its ESG initiative and, in doing so, to educate and inspire students first-hand. It is not just the faculty and administration officers being involved in the process, but also having student participation through organizations such as Green Dragons and the Sustainability Board in high school that makes this a team effort from all stakeholders. As Paravaikkarasu said, “This process is both top-down and bottom-up. It is important to infuse a greater understanding to the community and the team so they can all contribute.” Most importantly, “It is all part of the ethos in being future leaders for the school; to get everyone involved and ensure they are on the right track for the future.”