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C20 Climate change and greenhouse gas reduction policies and programs

Carbon neutrality in ACT public schools

The Directorate continued to pursue initiatives aimed at delivering the ACT Government's objective for ACT public schools to be carbon neutral by 2017. This included:

Photovoltaic (solar panel) systems

The Directorate established contracts with six solar panel supply and installation companies in 2010-11 to install roof mounted photovoltaic (solar) systems at all ACT public schools.

During the 2011-12 year, the Directorate completed the installation of roof mounted photovoltaic panel systems at 19 schools allocated grant funding under the Australian Government's National Solar Schools Program (NSSP). Additional funding was allocated from the ACT Solar Schools Program to assist schools to install larger solar panel systems. The rollout in 2011-12 follows the successful trial installations conducted at Evatt Primary School and Kingsford Smith School. This brought the total number of ACT public schools with functioning solar panel systems at the end of the reporting period to 25.

Arrangements were in place at the end of the reporting period for the installation of solar panel systems at a further 27 schools. These schools had also been allocated NSSP grants in the second funding round. These installations will occur in the 2012-13 year. Arrangements for the installation of solar panel systems for the final 33 schools will also occur in the 2012-13 year (including a second system at Gold Creek School).

Under a national partnership agreement, the Directorate also assisted the Australian Government Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency during 2011-12 with the assessment of grant applications submitted by ACT public schools under the 2011-12 and 2012-13 NSSP funding rounds.

During the reporting period, ACT public schools were approved for the maximum tariff rate under the ACT Feed-in-Tariff scheme for small-scale systems. The collective size of solar panel installations at ACT public schools approved under this scheme was 1,192 kW. The income generated by these solar panels systems will be set aside and used by schools to implement further sustainability measures.

The Renewable Energy Certificates created following the installation of the solar panel systems will be retained by the Directorate to further assist schools to offset their "carbon footprint".

Installation of pulse (smart) meters

Following the installation of solar panel systems at ACT public schools, the Directorate is rolling out a program to install smart meter technology at schools to capture electricity, gas and water consumption and solar energy generation.

Works to develop the recording and reporting systems, together with the installation at the initial 25 schools, were substantially progressed during the reporting period with final works to be completed early in the 2012-13 year. Further installations will also occur at the remaining schools during 2012-13.

These systems will provide schools with real time data on consumption and energy generation which will support both the management of energy and water use by schools and, through a web-based interface, the development of curriculum studies for students.

Water tank program

The Directorate completed the program to install water tanks at all ACT public early childhood, primary and high schools during the reporting period. This was a three year program. The Directorate will install water tanks at four colleges during the 2012-13 year which will ensure that all ACT public schools have access to a non-potable water supply.

Where feasible, the water tanks were connected to schools for toilet flushing or to school irrigation systems and environmental landscape areas.

Sustainable landscapes

The Directorate completed pilot sustainable landscape projects at Giralang and Aranda Primary Schools and Stromlo High School during 2011-12, with works at Gowrie and Red Hill Primary Schools well progressed by the end of the reporting period. These were demonstration projects for potential future landscape works at other ACT public schools.

Sustainable landscape designs were also included in the final works for Harrison School, Bonner Primary School, Franklin Early Childhood School and for the new performing arts theatre at Canberra College.

Preliminary scoping works were also undertaken in the reporting period for school frontage improvement projects at Belconnen, Calwell, Lyneham and Stromlo High Schools and Wanniassa School (senior campus). These works, together with works at Telopea Park School, will be finalised during the 2012-13 year.

Artificial grass areas

The Directorate completed scoping and design work for artificial grass areas at priority ACT public schools. Contract negotiations for construction work were completed by the end of the reporting period with all artificial grass areas to be completed during the 2012-13 year.

The new spaces will include play areas at Torrens and Theodore Primary Schools, new artificial sports fields at Telopea Park School (junior school) and Calwell and Weetangera Primary Schools and a multi-use court at Telopea Park School (senior school).

Green star rating

The new Environment Centre at Gold Creek School was certified by the Green Building Council of Australia as a 6 Green star-design rated facility. This was the first facility at an Australian primary or secondary school to be certified at this level.

In addition, this facility was recognised as a Finalist in the United Nations Australian Association World 2012 Environment Day Awards, in the Green Building category.

The new secondary section of Harrison School, which opened at the start of the 2012 school year, was certified by the Green Building Council of Australia during the reporting period as a 5 Green star-design rated campus. This was the third Australian school campus to receive this level of certification.

Applications for 5 Green star certification for both the Gungahlin College and Namadgi School continued to be processed during the reporting period. The new Bonner Primary School has also been designed to achieve a 5 Green star rating from the Green Building Council of Australia. When certified, these school campuses will bring the total number of ACT public schools certified to the 5 Green star level to four.

Other initiatives

Preliminary planning was commenced in the reporting period on the implementation of stage 1 of the ACT Government's carbon neutral schools program. This included trial sites at Theodore Primary School and Canberra High School to achieve full carbon neutrality and lighting upgrade and insulation works at a further eight school sites.

Planning was also undertaken during the reporting period on the trial for water refill stations at five ACT public schools (Hawker College, Campbell and Alfred Deakin High Schools, Ngunnawal Primary School and Namadgi School) and the connection of three schools (Dickson College, Lyneham High School and Lyneham Primary School) to the northside urban waterway system. Planning was also progressed on the construction of bin enclosures and the purchase of bin lifters to support waste removal and recycling programs at ACT public schools.

An environment centre was opened at the new Harrison Secondary School during the 2011-12 year. This brought the total number of specialist environment centres at ACT public schools to 11.

As capital works are undertaken at ACT public schools, including new facilities, building upgrades and refurbishments, opportunities are taken to improve the energy and water efficiency of these spaces. This includes solar passive design, natural ventilation and thermal comfort, water efficient tapware, dual flush toilets, lighting upgrades and roof insulation.

For more information contact:
Schools Capital Works
(02) 6205 3173