Creating a School Environmental Management Plan (SEMP)
A School Environmental Management Plan (SEMP) is based on the process of an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) that is used by both government and businesses. A SEMP is a set of documents that helps identify your achievements so far and provides a road-map for the future of your school’s sustainability programs. CERES facilitators help schools create a SEMP by collating some important documents:
> Education for Sustainability Vision (often placed at the start of a Sustainability Policy)
> Sustainability Policy
> Curriculum Review
> School Sustainability Snapshot
Education for Sustainability (EfS) Vision
Your school’s Education for Sustainability vision is the overarching ‘big picture’ of why your school has a sustainability program. It can be based on your school’s motto or values, or can be a collaboration of different ideas about sustainability. We recommend you use strong language that inspires others eg. “we will” and “we are” rather than “we will try” or “we aim to”.
This vision statement is often placed at the top of a Sustainability Policy and on a school’s website as a reminder to the community of why your school is undertaking sustainability projects.
Sustainability Policy (including Green Purchasing)
Each sustainability policy looks slightly different as it is based on the format of a school’s other policies. A sustainability policy is a great way to outline goals and give guidelines for implementation. It can also protect sustainability programs .It is also a fantastic opportunity to provide formal feedback to a school council or board.
We also recommend you include some ‘green purchasing’ items in your policy or a separate Green Purchasing Policy. “Green purchasing” or “green procurement” is when people or organisations buy products and services that minimise negative environmental impacts over their life cycle of manufacturing, transportation, use and recycling or disposal.
Presenting Your Policy
Your Sustainability Policy needs to be passed by your School Council / Board. When it is presented, take the opportunity to lift the profile of what you do a start a formal conversation about sustainability at your school. If you want to speak to different people’s interests, try presenting your Policy alongside any billing data you’ve entered so far in ResourceSmart Online. (see the Annual Report below)
Reviewing where sustainability is incorporated in your school helps celebrate achievements and track a student’s learning journey. You might even identify opportunities for future improvement. There are lots of ways to undertake a curriculum review – here are a few examples, including blank templates for your use.
A School Snapshot can be used as a way to capture current achievements and ideas for the future. Information contained in a School Snapshot can help decide what your school might do during different ResourceSmart Schools modules.
Celebrating Sustainability Achievements
> Annual Report
Reporting to your sustainability outcomes/achievements to your school Council / Board on an annual basis is a great way to keep sustainability on their agenda and to make sure other people at the school are aware of what is happening. Providing data from the bills you have entered on ResourceSmart Online can show the actual impacts of your programs in terms of savings made.
As you complete a ResourceSmart Schools module, you are asked to write a school story about what you did, what you learnt, what you achieved etc. It’s a great way to celebrate and you can share this document with your community.
You will be asked to upload your case study to your school’s Sustainability Hub blog so it can be shared with other schools, organisations and educator groups. Your blog can also be used to share your school’s achievements, challenges, solutions, celebrations, curriculum and fantastic actions. The CERES Sustainability Hub has hundreds of visitors each day from all over the world!
Creating Module Action Plans
Creating action plans for each module or star gives you a map for your ResourceSmart Schools journey (and helps to avoid headaches). CERES recommends you use ResourceSmart Online to create your action plan using the online checklists. This avoids doubling-up on administration and utilises an interactive working document that can be viewed and commented on by everyone accessing your ResourceSmart Online account (including your facilitator).
Biodiversity Up Close is a rigorous and easy to use tool to assess the biodiversity in he school ground. It can also be used to assess the biodiversity within an area of native habitat found close to the school. This tool has been adapted by CERES from the Environmental Management in Agriculture Worksheets (Department of Sustainability and Environment, 2005) and Biodiversity Up Close Condensed Version (LandLearn).
Generating Renewable Energy
Energy consumption is Victorian schools’ greatest impact on the environment and a significant contributor to climate change. A really important aspect of addressing climate change is sourcing our power from renewable sources. If installing renewable energy at your school, it is important to monitor your power usage, address energy efficiency, reduce energy demand and focus on behaviour change.
Participating in ResourceSmart Schools is a great first step! CERES, along with the support from Planet Savers have created this tips and tricks guide to understanding renewable energy – solar and wind – at your school.