B.9 Ecologically Sustainable Development

The ACT Government is determined to reduce energy and water consumption and improve the thermal comfort of student learning and teaching spaces.  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. The Directorate continues to pursue initiatives aimed at delivering the ACT Government’s aspirational target for all ACT Public Schools to be carbon neutral by 2017.

SCHOOL-BASED SUSTAINABILITY

Information on operational consumption of resources for 2014-15 and 2015-16 for all public schools is summarised in Table B9.1.

TABLE B9.1: SCHOOL-BASED SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT PERFORMANCE 2014-15 AND 2015-16

Indicator as at 30 June Unit 2014-15 2015-16 Percentage change
Director-General     
Occupancy – students and staff1 FTE 45,798 47,229 3.1
Area school space Area (m2) 599,620 611,007 1.9
Stationary energy usage     
Electricity use Kilowatt hours 24,963,621 24,099,194 -3.5
Renewable electricity use2 Kilowatt hours n/a n/a n/a
Natural gas use Megajoules 132,423,468 124,920,742 -5.7
Water usage     
Water use Kilolitres 337,471 337,7103 -0.5
Greenhouse gas emissions     
Emissions from stationary energy use Tonnes CO2-e 28,513 26,6654 -5.8
Emissions from transport Tonnes CO2-e n/a n/a n/a
Total emissions Tonnes CO2-e28,513 26,665-6.5

Source: Education Directorate’s Strategic Finance Branch, Enterprise Sustainability Platform (as at 1 September 2016)

Notes:
1Student figures from February census of students. Preschool students taken as 0.5 FTE. Staff in schools figure based on 2016-17 Budget Paper No.3.
2ACT Property Group purchased 7,700 Mega Watt hours (MWh) of GreenPower on behalf of the ACT Government, representing an indicative 5% of the ACT Government’s energy consumption for 2015-16.
3As water billing is provided quarterly, the water data reported in the current FY column (2015-16) is for the 12 months from 1 May 2015 to 30 April 2016 and represents the best available data at the time of publishing.
4Greenhouse gas emissions for electricity consumption have been calculated using an emission factor of 0.773 kilogram (kg) CO2-e/kilowatt hour (kWh) or 0.773 tonne (t) CO2-e/megawatt hour (MWh). The emission factors include total GreenPower purchases for the ACT calculated in the third quarter of the financial year and are specific to the ACT. These emissions factors (Scope 2 plus Scope 3) reflect the increasing combination of renewable electricity generated under the ACT’s 90% Renewable Energy Target (RET).

Energy and water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions figures are for 87 schools in 2015-16 compared to 86 schools in 2014-15 as resource usage at the new Charles Weston School - Coombs, which opened in Term 1 2016, was recorded for half of the reporting year.

ENERGY CONSUMPTION AND GHG EMISSIONS

Electricity consumption in 2015-16 totalled 24.0 million kilowatt hours. This is a decrease of 3.5 percent. Gas consumption totalled 123 million megajoules (MJ) and is a decrease of 6.7 percent from 2014-15.

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for the reporting year were 26,580 tonnes of CO2-e. This is a decrease of 6.8 percent from 2014-15.

WATER CONSUMPTION

Water consumption across all public schools in 2015-16 totalled 335,615 kilolitres (kL) which was a decrease of 0.5 percent. For comparative purposes between the reporting periods, excluding water usage at the new Charles Weston School - Coombs, total consumption at existing schools was 324,743 kL representing a decrease of 3.7 percent.

In 2014-15, the Directorate entered into Memorandums of Understanding with the Territory and Municipal Services Directorate for the supply of non-potable water from the inner north waterway system for the irrigation of grounds at Lyneham Primary School and Lyneham High School and Dickson College. The system was switched on in October 2015 and Lyneham High and Lyneham Primary Schools are now using the recycled water to irrigate their grounds.

TRANSPORT

The Ride or Walk to School program is 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 whole of government Ride or Walk to School Active Streets pilot project, improvements (roof structure, expansion of secure area, bike racks) were made to cycle storage facilities at Macquarie Primary School.

PHOTOVOLTAIC (SOLAR PANEL) SYSTEMS

The installation of roof mounted photovoltaic [(PV),(solar)] systems were completed in 2015-16 at Canberra College (20kW), Black Mountain School (20kW), Dickson College (10kW), Erindale College (10kW), Lyneham High School (10kW) and Caroline Chisholm School (junior campus) (10kW). Red Hill and Calwell Primary Schools also installed 10kW systems using their feed in tariff (FiT) income. All of these systems are net feed, where the electricity generated is used on-site and only excess energy is fed back to the electricity grid. The installation of a 100kW system at the new Charles Weston School in Coombs was also completed during the reporting period.

A 600kW solar system was installed at Amaroo School during the reporting period as part of a unique leasing arrangement between the school and the installation company.  This is currently the largest solar PV system installed on any school roof across Australia.

FEED-IN-TARIFF

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.  All ACT Public Schools generated FiT income for the entire reporting year.

In 2015-16, schools re-invested their FiT income into further environmentally sustainable initiatives such as window coverings, roof mounted photovoltaic [(PV), (solar)] systems, air locks and external door replacements, water tanks, water efficient fixtures (taps), waste recycling infrastructure (composting, recycling, worm farms), LED lighting upgrades, cycle facilities (e.g. bike racks, learn to ride) and external learning environments (e.g. food gardens, chicken coops)

A total of 1,807 MWh of solar energy was generated from these systems in 2014-15 resulting in approximately $826,000 of income for all ACT Public Schools. Schools’ annual solar production resulted in 1,397 tCO2-e of avoided emissions in the national electricity grid.

PULSE (SMART) METERS

All ACT Public Schools are now 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 and the results are published on a public website allowing both the schools and the local community to track performance. The web-based interface is publicly accessible at www.watergroup.com.au/actschools external.

CARBON NEUTRAL SCHOOLS

Stage 1 of the Carbon Neutral Schools project continued to be rolled out by the Directorate in 2015-16. Installation of LED lights were completed at Calwell and Monash Primary Schools and Wanniassa Senior School during the reporting period.  Solar tubes were also installed at Monash Primary School as part of the lighting upgrades.

Insulation upgrades were completed at Caroline Chisholm Senior campus (ceiling) and Theodore Primary School (wall cladding).  As part of a program of draught proofing works, thermally reflective window coverings were installed at Alfred Deakin High School and Arawang Primary School and door seals/replacements at Evatt, North Ainslie, Weetangera Primary Schools and Calwell and Canberra High Schools. Power factor correction equipment was also installed at Weetangera Primary School.  This equipment improves how efficiently a facility uses the electricity it draws from the electricity grid and reduces electricity operating costs.

CARBON NEUTRAL GOVERNMENT LOAN FUND

In 2015-16 the Directorate secured an additional $2.51 million from the Carbon Neutral Government Fund for energy conservation projects including:

  • trial of Organic response lighting at Hawker Primary School ($0.022m);
  • new building management system (BMS) at the Erindale Education Resource Complex ($0.738m); and
  • installation of energy efficient LED lamps at a further 31 school sites ($1.556m).

To date, the Directorate has secured $4.905 million for a number of energy conservation projects.  When all of the projects funded to date are implemented they are projected to reduce the Directorate’s annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2,142 tonnes and save 2,259 gigajoules of natural gas and 3,196 megawatt hours of electricity.

EXTERNAL LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS

In 2015-16, construction of external learning areas commenced at Turner School. These areas are designed to connect with the internal learning environment and support curriculum delivery. Flexible layouts, facilitated by the installation of removable fences, have been incorporated and include partial screening from the elements, upgraded paving areas and the construction of small performance areas in the form of small timber decks. The design utilises existing trees on site to maximise the available shade and preserve the visual amenity value the existing trees provide.

Environmentally sustainable landscapes are designed to increase stormwater infiltration, reduce soil erosion, improve water quality, reduce trip hazards, minimise irrigation demands, use drought tolerant plant species and increase biodiversity. This approach to school landscape design is incorporated into all new school designs, including Charles Weston School – Coombs, which opened in the 2015-16 reporting year.

GREEN STAR

The application for 5 Star Green Star - Education Design v1 certification for Namadgi School was progressed during the 2013-14 reporting period. A final outcome on the application is with the Green Building Council of Australia and is expected to be received in the 2016-17 reporting period.

Canberra High School was registered for the Green Star Performance Tool (pilot) in the 2013-14 reporting year. This tool focuses on identifying and implementing best practices in the daily operation and maintenance of a facility to reduce the environmental impact of the asset. The application process was progressed during the reporting period and is expected to be completed in the 2016-17 reporting period.

ACTSMART SCHOOLS

The Directorate continues to work in close partnership with ActSmart Schools. ActSmart Schools is a school sustainability program managed by the Environment and Planning 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 2016, a total of 42 public schools had been awarded ActSmart Schools accreditation for the sustainable management of energy, 46 for sustainable management of water, 42 for sustainable waste management, 24 for biodiversity and schools grounds management, and nine for sustainability in curriculum. Five more public schools gained five-star accreditation.

Professional development and training was provided to school-based staff, including business managers, building services officers and teachers. Workshops on improving energy efficiency, waste and recycling practices, establishing and maintaining food gardens and integrating sustainability into the curriculum were delivered in 2014-15.  The average number of participants attending 2015 -16 workshops was 45 -50 participants, far exceeding the set target of 30-35 participants per workshop. Two eco bus tours were offered to teachers and students to visit ‘best practice’ schools.

OTHER INITIATIVES

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 and thermal comfort, lighting upgrades, solar tubes and roof insulation. Details of capital works completed in 2015-16 are found in Section C3.

OFFICE-BASED SUSTAINABILITY

Information on operational consumption of resources for the two main central office sites (Braddon and Stirling) is provided in Table B9.2. Costs for the smaller Lyons and Maribyrnong sites are met by the schools, therefore these sites are not reported in Table B9.2.

ENERGY CONSUMPTION AND GHG EMISSIONS

During the reporting year, electricity consumption at the two central office sites decreased by 24.9 percent and gas consumption decreased by 24.2 percent. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from stationary energy were 718 tonnes of CO2-e. This is a decrease of 27.0 percent from 2014-15.

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 has been providing approximately 25 percent of the site’s annual energy requirement.

WATER CONSUMPTION

Water consumption totalled 1,104 kilolitres which is a decrease of 19.9 percent from the 2014-15 reporting period.

WASTE MANAGEMENT

The Directorate’s Braddon and Stirling sites are accredited recyclers under the ACT SmartOffice 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.

TRANSPORT

The Directorate endorsed its Sustainable Transport Strategy in May 2016.  In an effort to reduce the production of transport greenhouse gas emissions, the strategy advocates that employees should avoid work-related vehicle travel where possible. The preferred travel method of work-related travel is ACTION buses, particularly for meetings held within Canberra City area.  During the reporting year, two MyWay cards were purchased for each branch located at 220 Northbourne Ave to support implementation of the strategy. A second Nissan Leaf electric vehicle was added to the Directorate’s fleet bringing the total to two. The Directorate is also participating in the whole of government electric bike trial and two electric bikes will be located at the 220 Northbourne Ave early in the 2016-17 reporting year.

RESOURCE MANAGEMENT PLAN

The Directorate’s 2015-16 Resource Management Plan was endorsed during the reporting period and will be reviewed and updated in the 2016-17 reporting year.

In 2015-16, the Directorate participated in the whole of government carbon budget trial and established a target of five percent reduction in electricity usage and five percent reduction in natural gas usage across the ACT Public School portfolio. A 3.7 percent reduction in electricity usage was achieved which is a reduction of approximately 860,000kWh of electricity.  This is equivalent to the electricity usage of approximately 115 Canberra homes. A 6.7 percent reduction in natural gas usage was achieved which is a reduction of approximately 8.9 million MJ of natural gas.

TABLE B9.2: OFFICE-BASED SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT PERFORMANCE 2014-15 AND 2015-16

Indicator as at 30 June Unit 2014-15 2015-161 Percentage change
Agency staff and area     
Agency staff2 FTE 469 487 3.8
Workplace floor area Area (m2) 7,226 6,628 -8.3
Stationary energy usage     
Electricity use Kilowatt hours 1,004,731 754,349 -24.9
Renewable electricity use3 Kilowatt hours n/a n/a n/a
Natural gas use Megajoules 2,778,046 2,106,967 -24.2
Transport fuel usage     
Total number of vehicles Number 18 17 -5.6
Total kilometres travelled Kilometres 208,440 122,316 -41.3
Fuel use – Petrol Kilolitres 1.4 1.2 -14.3
Fuel use – Diesel Kilolitres 10.41 7.9 -24.1
Fuel use – Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) Kilolitres n/a n/a n/a
Fuel use – Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Kilolitres n/a n/a n/a
Water usage     
Water use Kilolitres 1,379 1,021.484 -3.2
Resource efficiency and waste     
Reams of paper purchased Reams 8,734 7,500 -14.1
Recycled content of paper purchased Percentage 100 100 nil
Waste to landfill6 Litres 156,000 235,040 48.6
Co-mingled material recycled Litres 59,580 38,400 -35.55
Paper & Cardboard recycled (incl. secure paper) Litres 208,320 124,080 -40.4
Organic material recycled Litres 1,653 1,196.5 -27.7
Greenhouse gas emissions     
Emissions from stationary energy use Tonnes CO2-e 984 7185 -27.0
Emissions from transport Tonnes CO2-e 38.88 26 -33.1
     
Total emissions Tonnes CO2-e 1,018744-26.9

Source: Strategic Finance Branch, Education Directorate, Enterprise Sustainability Platform (as of 1 September 2016)

Notes:
1As part of an Administrative Arrangement Order the Training and Tertiary Education (TaTE) moved to the Chief Ministers, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate (CMTEDD). 2015-16 resource usage data for TaTE is included in CMTEDD’s annual report.
2Staff figure based on 2016-17 Budget Paper No. 3.
3ACT Property Group purchased 7,700 MWh (Mega Watt hours) of GreenPower on behalf of the ACT Government, representing an indicative 5% of the ACT Government’s energy consumption for 2015-16.
4Information on water usage is available only for the nine-month period May 2015 to January 2016. In comparison with the same nine-month period in 2014-15, this is a reduction of 3.2 percent in water usage.

5Greenhouse gas emissions for electricity consumption have been calculated using an emissions factor of 0.773 kilogram (kg) CO2-e / kilowatt hour (kWh) or 0.773 tonne (t) CO2-e / megawatt hour (MWh). The emission factors include total GreenPower purchases for the ACT calculated in the third quarter of the financial year and are specific to the ACT. These emissions factors (Scope 2 plus Scope 3) reflect the increasing contribution of renewable electricity generated under the ACT’s 90% Renewable Energy Target (RET).
6Waste to landfill is reported only for Hedley Beare Centre for Teaching and Learning. Actual waste contract are provided above. The Actsmart estimate was reported in 2014-15 at 156,000 litres.

For further information contact: Director Infrastructure and Capital Works (02) 6207 6541

FIVE STAR SUSTAINABLE SCHOOLS

Five schools have been awarded five star Actsmart accreditation this year after successfully achieving their sustainability goals. Evatt Primary School, Hawker Primary School, Isabella Plains Early Childhood School, Maribyrnong Primary School, and O’Connor Cooperative School all received the awards, having addressed each of the five focus areas of energy, waste, water, biodiversity and curriculum in their schools. The schools have shown that changing the behaviour of a whole school can have a positive impact on the environment.

At Maribyrnong Primary School a variety of school based sustainability initiatives have been introduced, such as weekly waste free lunches, recycling stations in each unit for paper, mixed plastic metal glass, and compost bins. Student Power Rangers monitor the use of power and water, and make suggestions across the school as to how to improve energy use. They also create awareness across the school regarding the impact of energy consumption. Herb and vegetable gardens have been established, as well as a worm farm and worm hotels. Rainwater tanks have been installed across the school, which feed back into the toilets to promote the use of recycled water. Bird boxes have been created by students and installed throughout the playground to support native birds within the area. A frog pond has been established as part of exploring and learning about ecosystems. Solar panels have been installed and the funds from the feed-in tariff are spent on reducing the school’s energy footprint. Renewable energy was addressed in the curriculum, with students presenting a workshop at the 2015 Kids teaching Kids Conference.

Sustainable management practices have been incorporated into everyday operations at all five schools and sustainability education integrated across the curriculum. Hawker Primary School promoted ‘container only’ habits and reduced the daily waste from student lunches to an average 1kg of waste per day from their 350 students, for both recycling and landfill. Isabella Plains Early Childhood School developed a Backyard Rangers outdoor nature playgroup for families and children under school age and an Urban Rangers outdoor program.

Photo of two female primary students, dressed as Power Rangers, monitoring energy use at their school
Photo of a worm hotel at a local primary school

The students took part in across curriculum activities such as making scarecrows, weaving fences and drawing. Each child kept a Science Journal to record their findings as they observed ‘The Farm’ created at the school. O’Connor Cooperative School used its feed-in tariff to erect shade sails to shade a classroom. At Evatt Primary School students learnt about sustainable transport, energy and waste management.

Actsmart Schools is an initiative of the ACT Government Environment and Planning Directorate. The ACT is the only jurisdiction in Australia to have all schools registered in a sustainability program such as this.

Photo of two female primary students, feeding chooks in the chicken pen and collecting eggs

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