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B9. Ecologically Sustainable Development

The ACT Government is focused on improving the thermal comfort of student learning and teaching spaces and on reducing energy and water consumption. The Directorate’s strategic priorities for ecologically sustainable development, outlined in the Resource Management Plan, align with the ACT Government’s commitments to waste minimisation, water efficiency, transport efficiency, energy efficiency and greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions. The Directorate’s priorities are informed by the strategic pathway outlined in AP2: A new climate change strategy and action plan for the Australian Capital Territory and the Carbon Neutral ACT Government Framework.

School-Based Sustainability

Information on operational consumption of resources for 2015-16 and 2016-17 for all ACT public schools is summarised in Table B9.1.

Table B9.1: School-based sustainable development performance 2015-16 and 2016-17
Indicator as at 30 June Unit 2015-161,2 2016-17 Percentage change
Directorate/ public sector staff
Occupancy – student and staff3 FTE 47,252 49,070 3.8
School Floor Area Area (m2) 611,007 615,395 0.7
Stationary energy usage
Electricity use Kilowatt hours 24,164,791 24,053,594 -0.5
Natural gas use Megajoules 125,310,808 139,816,859 11.6
Diesel N/A N/A N/A
Water usage
Water use Kilolitres 337,722 306,537 -9.2
Greenhouse gas emissions
Emissions from stationary energy use Tonnes CO2-e 25,750 22,200 -13.8
Emissions from transport Tonnes CO2-e N/A N/A N/A
Total emissions Tonnes CO2-e 25,750 22,200 -13.8

Source: Education Directorate’s Strategic Finance Branch, Enterprise Sustainability Platform (as at 1 September 2017)


1 Differences between the Enterprise Sustainability Platform sourced data in 2015-16 and that reported in the 2015-16 Annual Report are due to updates to agency occupancy and historical consumption data and to annual adjustments to ACT specific electricity emissions factors.
2 Charles Weston Primary School – Coombs opened in Term 1 of 2016. Energy data is included for half of the 2015-16 reporting year.
3Student figures from February census of students. Preschool students taken as 0.5 FTE. Staff in schools figures based on 2017-18 Budget Paper No. 3.

Energy Consumption and GHG Emissions

Electricity consumption in 2016-17 totalled 24,053,594 kilowatt hours. This is a decrease of 0.5 percent from 2015-16. Gas consumption totalled 139,816,859 megajoules (MJ) and is an increase of 11.6 percent from 2015-16.

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for the reporting year were 22,200 tonnes of CO2-e. This is a decrease of
13.8 percent from 2015-16.

Photovoltaic (Solar Panel) Systems

The installation of roof mounted photovoltaic solar systems was completed in 2016-17 at Malkara School. The 10kW system was installed by the school using their feed-in-tariff (FiT) income. This system is a net feed, where the electricity generated is used on-site and only excess energy is fed back to the electricity grid.


ACT public schools receive the maximum tariff rate (45.7 cents/kWh) under the ACT FiT scheme for small-scale systems. The collective size of solar panel installations at public schools approved under this scheme was 1,200kW. FiT income was generated by 85 ACT public schools for the reporting year. A total of 1,839 MWh of solar energy was generated from these systems in 2016-17 resulting in approximately $830,935 (excl GST) of income for all ACT public schools. The annual solar production at schools resulted in 1,292 tCO2-e of avoided emissions in the national electricity grid.

In addition to the systems which operate under the FiT scheme, a further 302kW of photovoltaic infrastructure has been installed under a net feed system across 12 school sites.

In 2016-17, schools re-invested their FiT income into environmentally sustainable initiatives such as:

Building Tuning

Building tuning initiatives conducted in 2016-17 targeted the improvement of the building envelope through improved glazing performance and the installation of air locks to reduce cooling and heating demand. Building envelope improvements enable better maintenance of internal temperatures by preventing heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer. Other building tuning initiatives targeted improved operational efficiency of building plant and equipment to assist in reducing gas and electricity usage.

The Directorate implemented two glazing projects in the 2016-17 reporting year. Malkara School had retrofit double glazing installed to a corridor and two art rooms and North Ainslie Primary School had double glazing installed to an open learning space and a corridor. The two installations improved the thermal comfort of the staff and students in these spaces. Energy monitoring is taking place to determine the effect of the works on energy consumption. Anecdotally, North Ainslie Primary School report reduced use of supplementary electric heaters. Improvements to building envelopes will improve thermal comfort in both summer and winter.

Four airlocks were installed at Hughes Primary School which will provide an increase in the thermal comfort of the students and teaching staff in the corridor areas in the two main buildings. Energy savings are anticipated as the air locks reduce the loss of internal heating and cooling during winter and summer respectively.

Carbon Neutral Government Loan Fund

In 2016-17 the Directorate commenced projects funded by the Carbon Neutral Government Fund with a total cost estimate of $2.314 million. They included:

To date, the Directorate has secured $4.925 million from the Carbon Neutral Government Fund for a number of energy conservation projects including:

Energy Audits

Energy audits were conducted across 15 school sites and a Heating, Ventilation and Cooling (HVAC) diagnostic audit was conducted at one college site to identify energy conservation measures for implementation in 2017-18. Desk top analysis and site assessments were also conducted by the Infrastructure and Capital Works Branch to identify sites for energy audit in 2017-18.

Monitoring and Metering Resource Usage

ACT public schools are equipped with the technology to monitor resource usage through the installation of smart meters. These meters track electricity, gas and water usage and solar energy generation. The resource usage is monitored through a secure website which allows the schools to track performance. In 2016-17, the Directorate renewed digital water loggers at 60 schools.

Water Consumption

Water consumption across all public schools in 2016-17 totalled 306,537 kilolitres which was a decrease of
9.2 percent from 2015-16.


The Directorate is supporting the Ride or Walk to School program, an initiative managed by the Health Directorate which aims to encourage active travel to ACT schools and reduce transport related GHG emissions. As part of the program’s Active Streets pilot project, improvements to end of trip cycling infrastructure were initiated at four schools in 2016-17. The works include roofing of bicycle storage spaces, expansion of secure areas and installation of bike racks at Palmerston District Primary School, Richardson Primary School, UC High School Kaleen and Hughes Primary School. Construction and modification of these shelters began in 2016-17 and will be completed in the 2017-18 reporting year.

External Learning Environments

Following on from extensive consultation with the Turner School community, improvements have been made to the carpark and traffic management near the school. In 2016-17 the school car parking capacity was increased by extending the car park as a part of the traffic management plan.

In addition to these works, eight outdoor learning areas at the Turner School were also redeveloped in 2016-17 along the northern side of the junior school building. The works included the installation of removable fences, new paving, partial screening, external storage and a mix of natural and artificial materials. These changes provide an enriched student experience with direct physical and visual access from the internal learning environments.

Actsmart Schools

The Directorate continues to work in close partnership with Actsmart Schools. Actsmart Schools is a school sustainability program managed by the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate.

The aim of the program is for all schools to reduce their environmental impact and embed sustainable management practices into everyday school operations.

As at 30 June 2017, a total of 57 ACT public schools had been awarded Actsmart Schools accreditation for the sustainable management of energy, 48 for sustainable management of water, 50 for sustainable waste management, 32 for biodiversity and schools grounds management, and 13 for sustainability in curriculum.

Four more ACT public schools gained five-star accreditation bringing the total number of five-star accredited schools to 13.

Professional development and training was provided to 329 staff, including business managers, building services officers and teachers. Seven Teacher Quality Institute (TQI) accredited workshops were presented to participants from 68 schools, including 45 ACT public schools.

Workshops included supporting sustainable schools coordinators, improving energy efficiency, waste and recycling practices, establishing and maintaining food gardens and integrating sustainability into the curriculum. The average number of participants attending professional development workshops was 45-50, exceeding the 2016-17 target of 35-40 participants.

The Actsmart Schools Horticulturalist provided consultation services to 32 ACT public schools. The Waste and Energy Education Officer delivered the student energy kit to 27 ACT public schools and provided 47 ACT public schools with waste and recycling support.

Resource Management Plan

The Directorate’s 2016-17 Resource Management Plan was endorsed by the Senior Executive Team Board on
17 May 2017.

The 2017-18 Resource Management Plan is currently under review.

Carbon Budget

In 2017-18 the Directorate has set an ambitious carbon emission reduction target of 3 percent across the school portfolio and Education Support Office (ESO). The target comprises the following reductions in energy:

Sustainable Delivery of Public School Facilities

To improve the sustainability performance of future schools energy and sustainability, standards were included in the Sustainable Development of Public School Facility Output Specifications. The Output Specifications for preschool to year 6 schools were endorsed on 28 June 2017.

As capital works are undertaken at ACT public schools, including new facilities, building upgrades and refurbishments, opportunities are taken to improve the energy efficiency and water conservation of these spaces. This includes solar passive design, natural ventilation, thermal comfort, lighting upgrades, solar tubes and roof insulation. Details of capital works completed in 2016-17 are found in Section C3.

Education Support Office-Based Sustainability

Information on operational consumption of resources for the two main Education Support Office Sites at Braddon and Stirling is provided in Table B9.2. Costs for the school-based staff are met by the schools, therefore these sites are not reported in Table B9.2. These smaller sites are at Gilmore Primary School, Majura Primary School, Melrose High School, Wanniassa School – senior campus and the University of Canberra High School Kaleen. The Office of the Board of Senior Secondary Studies relocated from Lyons Early Childhood School to Callam Offices on
31 March 2017. Electricity, gas and water consumption information is not available for this small site and it has not been reported in Table B9.2.

Table B9.2: Education Support Office-based sustainable development performance 2015-16 and 2016-17
Indicator as at 30 June Unit 2015-16 2016-17 Percentage change
Directorate/ public sector staff
Occupancy – staff1 FTE 489 488 -0.2
Workplace Floor Area Area (m2) 6,628 5,904 -10.9
Stationary energy usage
Electricity use Kilowatt hours 754,349 738,043 -2.1
Natural gas use Megajoules 2,106,967 2,950,617 40.0
Diesel N/A N/A N/A
Transport fuel usage
Electric Vehicles Number 2 2 0.0
Hybrid Vehicles Number 0 5 N/A2
Other vehicles (that are not electric or hybrid) Number 15 10 -33.3
Total number of vehicles Number 17 17 0
Total kilometres travelled Kilometres 138,342 154,751 11.9
Fuel use – Petrol Kilolitres 1 3 200.0
Fuel use – Diesel Kilolitres 9 8 -11.1
Fuel use – Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) Kilolitres N/A N/A N/A
Fuel use – Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Cubic Metres N/A N/A N/A
Water Usage
Water use3 Kilolitres 1,323 2,526 90.9
Resource efficiency and waste
Reams of paper purchased4 Reams 7,500 5,206 -30.6
Recycled content of paper purchased4 Percentage 100 94.57 -5.4
Waste to landfill Litres 345,420 351,005 1.6
Co-mingled material recycled Litres 80,834 122,940 52.1
Paper & Cardboard recycled (incl. secure paper)5 Litres 200,760 306,540 52.7
Organic material recycled Litres 1,423 1,188 -16.5
Greenhouse gas emissions
Emissions from stationary energy use6 Tonnes CO2-e 688 595 -13.5
Emissions from transport Tonnes CO2-e 28 30 7.1
Total emissions Tonnes CO2-e 716 625 -12.7

Source: Education Directorate’s Strategic Finance Branch, Enterprise Sustainability Platform (as at 1 September 2017) and SG Fleet Australia


1 Staff figure based on 2017-18 Budget Paper No. 3.
2 Percentage change from 0 cannot be calculated. There was an absolute change from zero in 2015-16 to five in 2016-17.
3 Icon Water invoices between November 2015 and February 2017 were based on estimated consumption for the Hedley Beare Centre for Teaching and Learning.
4 Includes Office of the Board of Senior Secondary Studies and Teacher Quality Institute.
5 Increased recycling of cardboard and paper in 2016-17 due to the replacement of computer assets.
6 Greenhouse gas emissions for electricity consumption have been calculated using emissions factors based on the April 2017 ACT Electricity Emissions Factor Report

Energy Consumption and GHG Emissions

During the reporting year, electricity consumption at the two Education Support Office sites, Hedley Beare Centre for Teaching and Learning and 220 Northbourne Avenue Braddon, decreased by 2.2 percent and gas consumption increased by 40 percent. Investigations are underway into this increase. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from stationary energy were 595 tonnes of CO2-e. This is a decrease of 13.5 percent from 2015-16.

The 176kW solar panel system at the Hedley Beare Centre for Teaching and Learning in Stirling was registered as a power station by the Clean Energy Regulator in December 2015 and provided approximately 27 percent of the site’s annual energy requirement.

Water Consumption

Water consumption at Hedley Beare Centre for Teaching and Learning totalled 2,525 kilolitres, which is an increase of 90.9 percent from 2015-16. In 2015-16 two of the four water meter readings were estimates and it is apparent that the estimates were low and did not reflect the actual water consumption at the site. In 2016-17 a confirmed meter reading has been undertaken and the reading is significantly higher than the previous estimates. This results in a very large relative increase which is not representative of an increased trend in consumption.

Waste Management

The Education Support Office sites at Hedley Beare Centre for Teaching and Learning and 220 Northbourne Avenue Braddon are accredited recyclers under the Actsmart business recycling program. Commitment to the program has increased the levels of recycling and increased the accuracy of measuring waste to landfill, paper recycling, co-mingled and organic waste.


The Directorate endorsed its Sustainable Transport Strategy in May 2016. Five diesel vehicles were replaced by five hybrid (electric/petrol) vehicles. The Directorate is also participating in the whole of government electric bike trial and two electric bikes were located at 220 Northbourne Avenue from 14 October 2016.

Interactions With The Commissioner For Sustainability and The Environment

In 2016-17, the Directorate supported the Office of the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment in their Gap Analysis of the Carbon Neutral Government Framework. The Directorate contributed information on the way in which the Framework has been applied within schools and corporate facilities. This included details of the way in which the Framework has contributed to sustainability of schools, as well as some opportunities for improvement in the Framework.

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