Page 2336 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 5 August 2015

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Childhood School expects its solar panels will provide 58 per cent of its energy needs, while at Neville Bonner its solar panels are predicted to provide 73 per cent of its energy requirements, and the system at Hedley Beare is predicted to provide a quarter of the centre’s energy needs.

The new Coombs Primary School will also have a 100-kilowatt solar panel system installed as part of the construction, and a 30-kilowatt roof-mounted solar system was installed at the recently completed CCCares facility at Canberra College. Over the coming years rooftop solar systems will be expanded at a further five public schools: Canberra College, Canberra High School, Dickson College, Erindale College and UC Lake Ginninderra College.

On system expansions, the Black Mountain School and the junior campus of Caroline Chisholm School and the Lyneham High School will be completed by the end of this calendar year. Once completed they will bring all high school systems to 20 kilowatts and all P-10 schools and college systems to 30 kilowatts, and there will be a total of 1.88 megawatts of roof-mounted solar panel systems across our ACT public schools and ETD sites.

Schools are reinvesting their feed-in tariff income into further environmentally sustainable initiatives such as insulating window film, window covering, solar-powered roof ventilation fans, airlocks and external door replacements and shade sails. These further contribute to improving the thermal comfort of our schools and reducing their energy use. The commitment to renewable energy in our schools is only one part of the overarching approach to reduce the carbon footprint of our schools.

ACT public schools are now equipped with the technology to monitor their energy and water use 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.

ACT is the first jurisdiction to achieve this level of environmental measurement in our public schools. The meters not only allow ACT public schools to save money by monitoring their resource consumption but are also used as a teaching tool. Schools such as Melrose High School, amongst others, use this information to inform their science curriculum.

To support schools to reduce their energy consumption the ACT government committed $3.5 million over four years in the 2012-13 budget for stage I of the carbon neutral schools program. The benefits of this program are twofold as it reduces the energy use of our schools and shows students sustainability practices that are important for our future. The 10 schools included in this initiative are Canberra, Mount Stromlo, Alfred Deakin High School, Caroline Chisholm senior campus, Arawang, Evatt, Fadden, North Ainslie, Theodore and Weetangera primary schools. Canberra High School and Theodore are positioned to be, indeed, the first carbon neutral schools in the ACT.

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