As the temperature continues to drop, heating Concord Academy becomes increasingly important for the health and happiness of the community. However, when do we consider how keeping the school warm contributes to our planet's gradual warming? There are heating systems in all homes and all buildings in climates similar to Concord. Most of these systems either burn fossil fuels or use electricity that is often generated by fossil fuels. Just under half of heating systems sold around the world run directly on fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas, and propane. Across the globe, heating accounts for nearly half of all energy use, and forty percent of all energy-related carbon dioxide emissions.

Regarding last year’s heating consumption, Environmental Co-Head Zach Miller ’24 said, “It took nearly 650,000 kilograms worth of carbon dioxide emissions to heat all of campus for the 2022-2023 school year.” These emissions are on par with that of burning over 725,000 pounds of coal or consuming 73,000 gallons of gasoline.

So what can be done? The biggest and most profound change would involve installing a geothermal power heating system. Though these systems still result in carbon emissions during installation and for generating electricity, the overall carbon emissions are significantly reduced, and the system would use less than half of the electricity required for our current fossil fuel-based system. However, this change would be extremely expensive and largely unrealistic due to logistical concerns.

On the individual level, the student body can reduce emissions by changing personal choices in their everyday lives at CA. Though convenient, the automatic door-opening sensors use energy to function and thus have a carbon footprint themselves. Additionally, being cognizant of turning off lights in unused rooms and other miscellaneous electricity expenditures can create a substantial impact on CA’s emissions in the long term. Ultimately, due to the inevitability of having to keep the school warm during the winter, being more aware of unnecessary electric and heating-related uses can help keep CA’s carbon footprint as small as possible.