Student Climate Activism Spurs Poly to Assess Carbon Impacts

A recent United Nations intergovernmental report on climate change projections and impacts illustrated the imperative need to reduce greenhouse gases.

On February 7, Poly announced that it is partnering with Verdical Group, a Pasadena-based sustainability consulting firm with expertise in decarbonizing the built environment. During the next three months, Verdical Group will work with Poly’s Facilities and Operations team, assessing its campus carbon footprint and creating an action plan for Poly to move toward, if not achieve, carbon neutrality.

This carbon reduction initiative would not be possible without strong student advocacy behind this new commitment. Assessing Poly’s climate impacts was actually spurred by an Upper School student sustainability club: Green Schools Poly. This club is part of a national initiative that aims to transition schools to 100% renewable energy by 2030. In March 2021, seniors Finn Keller, Katie Huntsman, Alana Tyson, Talulla Sheridan, and sophomore Michaela S., presented their research to Poly leaders. This year’s Green Schools Poly club, led by Elia M. ’22, Audrey T. ’24, and Michaela S. ’23, took the reins and began working with Poly’s sustainability managers, Laura Fleming and Dave Yamaoka, to move the initiative forward.

“The first step is to learn what that path to 100% renewable energy actually looks like and whether it’s achievable,” said Laura Fleming, Poly’s new Environmental Sustainability Manager. “In May, we'll have a final report that will outline specific carbon reduction projects to guide strategy and planning choices. It's always exciting when our students are helping to drive change. Their passion for climate action is inspiring.”

The news continues Poly’s momentum for sustainability, including a campus-wide plan for waste sorting and on-campus composting. We look forward to learning more about the results of this new inquiry.