Exterior of the new headquarters building of WWF-UK, the Living Planet Centre, Woking, Surrey. WWF-Canon / Richard Stonehouse

Last Wednesday we joined a group of students from Wellington College at WWF’s Living Planet Centre in Woking.

For the last year SEEd has been working closely with Wellington College, one of our partner organisations, to help the school develop and embed a Whole School Approach to sustainability. As part of this work students at Wellington College have been taking part in half a day a week sustainability classes where they have been encouraged to carry out their own enquiry based learning projects around sustainability in their school. These projects have ranged from unpicking the food and catering; from delivery, through to diet options, and then on to waste; to finding out how they can install and incorporate solar panels; creating their own sustainable vegetable garden; and even the plausibility of having on-campus chickens!

Now at the end of its first year, this trial project has been a big success, with students having delved into the workings of their school, and worked with teachers and estates staff to bring about change.

To celebrate the end of this successful year students were invited to WWF’s Living Planet Centre in Woking, where they could come and learn about one of the few buildings in the country to have received an Outstanding rating as a sustainable building under the BREEAM environmental assessment scheme. We met students there and were kindly taken on a tour of the building, where we learnt how each aspect of its design and creation had been thought about sustainably; from the recycled carpet; to the specially made glulam wooden beams making up the ceiling; to it’s passive ventilation system; it’s clever use of natural light to curb energy usage; and the weeping fig trees growing inside.

Students and SEEd were then invited to join members of the WWF team in a discussion on how to bring about change. Students were able to discuss their own projects with the WWF team, and get into the nub of how change really happens, and what they can do to engage and inspire those around them. In the growing world of media the sky is the limit, and finding new ways to engage an audience is just part of the key to success. It is no secret that across the world thousands of young people are standing up and expressing their concern about climate change through the school strikes initiated by Greta Thunberg, and this momentum creates an incredible opportunity for change, alongside the identification of an audience crying out for more to be done. The time is now, and using some clever thinking we can build on the waves already made.

Positive messages and food for thought received, we parted ways at the end of an insightful and thought provoking day.

And in the words of one student: “It’s really cool.”