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Dulwich College Suzhou Students Invited to Meet the Pilots of Solar Impulse

On Thursday 30th April a small group of our students had the unique opportunity to see SolarImpulse which had recently landed in Nanjing. In true pioneering spirit SolarImpulse intends to achieve the first Round-The-World solar flight in 2015. It is the only aircraft of perpetual endurance, able to fly day and night on solar power, without a drop of fuel.

The two intrepid pilots, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, together with their team, have set out to demonstrate how a pioneering spirit, innovation and clean technologies can really change the world. They have already flown from the west cost of the United States, across the Atlantic, Europe and Asia and are now about to start the final leg of this historic flight by crossing the Pacific Ocean.

Both of the pilots spoke about their passion for the project and Bertrand Piccard had a special message for all of the students in the audience. He told them never to accept that something cannot be done just because no-one else has managed to do it yet. To be a pioneer you have to go beyond what everyone else thinks is achievable. He believes that his role as a pioneer, explorer and adventurer is not to discover new stars or galaxies but to find ways to improve the quality of life for all of us who live on this planet.

The SolarImpulse team are passionate in their belief that the technologies they are pioneering with this challenge will deliver sustainable solutions for use by many different industries and in our own homes. This struck a chord with our students too. At Dulwich College Suzhou we believe we are one of the most sustainable schools in China. We want to continue to lead the way and inspire both our students and our community to do their part in securing a healthy and sustainable future for our planet. We have already made significant progress by:

- Reducing energy consumption in our new Senior School by around 17% - that means 17% less carbon emissions into the atmosphere!

- Looking at better ways of communicating with students, parents and staff, we have reduced our consumption of paper by 158,000 pages already this year - that’s 19 trees saved. And we have moved to using Forest Stewardship Council paper to make sure that the wood used to make our paper comes from sustainable sources.

- Measuring and monitoring water consumption and by fixing a defect in our water system, we have saved over 14,000 tonnes of water this year – that’s enough to provide students with all their daily water needs for 98 days!

- We have introduced UTZ certified coffee in our coffee shops, to ensure that the coffee we drink supports the development of sustainable farming and the livelihood of the farmers who do the hard work required to ensure we can drink that coffee.

- We have continued to build our electric vehicle fleet, with an electric bus now being used for staff transport. In the future, we hope to be able to introduce electric buses for students as well.

- And we’ve invited an expert from the University of St Andrews to visit us. During her visit Dr Shona Russell helped us better understand how we could do even more.

This is what our students thought about their SolarImpulse experience:

Sam

Solar Impulse was a truly inspiring event. Seeing the first ever solar powered plane really opened my eyes to the possibilities technology opens up. It put into perspective just how close we are to new horizons, and they are incredible! I am extremely glad to have taken a part in such a historic event!

Emma

Solar Impulse was the best learning experience that I've participated in. It was an interesting way to experience the solar powered airplane, I have learnt so much from just one trip, it was definitely worth it. I was shocked to even have the chance to participate in such an amazing event. I will not forget the experience and the inspiration the pilots have shared throughout the day.

Our students are already very knowledgeable about our planet and enthusiastic to learn what they can do to help protect it by finding ways to use less energy, water and food and move towards more renewable resources. Many people individually making a small change all adds up to making a big difference.