The Environmental Cost of Getting to School

parked cars

If you wanted to tally all of the carbon emitted while Durham Academy’s drivers were behind the wheel, how would you go about doing that? That was the question asked of my classmates and me earlier this school year. Well, getting all of that information ourselves was a task far too complex and large, so we decided to let the data come to us. We decided Google forms should do the trick! We asked all Upper School students and teachers to fill out a survey during advisory.

Questions We Asked:

  • What is your mode of transportation? (standard car, electric vehicle, diesel vehicle, etc.)
  • How far is your drive to school?
  • Do you carpool with anyone?

These first questions were meant to give us basic data. With a sample size of 430, we could extrapolate to the entire school, which would give us an accurate estimate of the carbon emissions attributable to transportation at DA.

Additional Questions:

  • What alternative methods of transportation are you willing to consider to lower your carbon emissions?
  • What change is necessary in order for you to lower your carbon emissions?

These questions were meant to get students thinking about sustainability in their own lives as well as in the future. Students largely responded to the first one of these questions with carpooling. Walking and riding a private/public bus were answered often as well.


One of the most interesting results from the survey was the vehicles that people are using to get to school. Especially interesting was the prevalence of electric vehicles and hybrids. The global market share of electric vehicles is only 2.2%, but seeing 8.3% in our DA community represents the push that has already happened towards a more sustainable future.