5 Star School

St Jude’s School enjoys a natural bush setting and a sustainable infrastructure that blends with the local surroundings. Sustainability, care of all people and all things in creation, be it natural or human resourced, plays a significant part in the vision and growth of the school. Over the past fourteen years, St Jude’s School has endeavoured to bring this vision to life.

Over this period of time the school has actively undertaken a significant number of projects through parent working bees to enhance the school grounds and involvement with the local council, outside agencies and community groups. This has enabled the school community to appreciate and value the environment that we live and learn in.
In 2006, Frankston City Council called for schools in the area to apply for sponsorship through the Frankston City Council and the Victorian Westernport Greenhouse Alliance to become a 5 star Sustainable School. St Jude’s School was one of the fortunate schools to be chosen by Frankston Council. We have worked very closely with Eric Bottomley and the CERES team since that time.
St Jude’s was able to achieve our 5 star rating in 6 months becoming the first 5 star Sustainable School in the Melbourne Archdiocese in mid 2007.
Core Module- looked at changing our culture and developing a vision as a sustainable school. As part of St Jude’s Primary Schools environmental commitment we endeavour to practice Waste Wise initiatives that promote energy efficiency, reduce water usage, waste management reduction, increase biodiversity in the school gardens and encourage community practice of sustainability. Part of this involved the school prioritising curriculum direction and actions in our areas of commitment and completing a baseline data collection. To assist in interpreting data the school subscribed to SETS ( School Environment Tracking System) which enables the school to track its energy, water and waste use. The school can calculate and track greenhouse pollution and allows us to compare our greenhouse performance with other schools. It also enables us to manage and compare our school’s contribution to landfill.
Energy Module – St Jude’s goal was to significantly reduce energy wastage while retaining a comfortable learning environment. The school had an Energy audit carried out on the property as a starting point. The report indicated the school had a potential to reduce its energy use per student by as much as 20% within 5 years or less. Our target was a 15% reduction in energy consumption by December 2007. Our initiatives included installing a Cent- a -Meter in the staffroom to provide ongoing visual proof of our energy usage to staff. We chose to use evaporative coolers in our buildings and gas heaters to assist us in reducing our greenhouse admissions. We installed timers on lights in some areas whilst classrooms are also utilising natural light by de-lamping some of the fluorescent tubes and leaving lights off when not in the room, or when not required. All classes have appointed Power Rangers to be responsible for energy usage and switching off computers, heaters, cooling systems and lights when not required. The Student Representative Council assumed the responsibility for overseeing class Power Rangers and suggesting new strategies for energy conversation. The use of skylights in buildings and sufficient windows allowing natural light has contributed to energy reduction in classrooms and multi purpose areas. Overall a 6% reduction in electricity and 10.3% reduction in gas was achieved in 2007.
Water Module –In 2006 the school had a Water Conservation Audit carried out. The report identified ways of reducing current water usage and associated costs by 68%. The report identified some excellent opportunities to improve onsite water usage. After receiving a Commonwealth Community Water Grant St Jude’s installed three water tanks that harvest rainwater from the school’s roof. This is then used to flush toilets throughout the school and water the school’s garden beds. The school upgraded inefficient toilets to dual flush systems and replaced all drinking taps. Push button taps were installed in the hand basins to minimise water usage. The school undertook planting endemic and indigenous drought tolerant species. Our garden beds are regularly mulched. Students are constantly reminded that water is a valuable resource through means such as stickers and the use of rain gauges where results are mapped in the classrooms. This has resulted in a reduction of water usage per day from 3843kL /day in 2006 to 764k/L per day in 2007. A saving of 315%.
Waste Module –The school set a target of a 20% reduction in reducing litter in the school and waste going to landfill by 2009. Our Paper and Cardboard recycling philosophy encourages the re-use of printed paper wherever possible. Double sided photocopying is utilised when possible. All paper and cardboard is collected in special boxes in the room and is sent to recycling. Children have been encouraged to reduce their lunch packaging and worm farms have been established to reduce our food waste going to landfill. Stickers have been placed around the school to remind students to place rubbish in bins and lunch is eaten in the classrooms to decrease the chance of rubbish being blown around. On occasions our school has had “Rubbish Free” lunches to raise awareness. Classes are assigned each week to ensure the grounds are litter free at the end of each day. The school now works with a local company that recycles all computers and other technological equipment that previously went to land fill.
Biodiversity –St Jude’s School has created a wetlands area which takes up any excess water off the school oval. This has created an area for ducks and other aquatic life in the area. The school has undertaken extensive planting of indigenous plants and maintains an extensive canopy of trees and shrubs to establish a corridor for wildlife connected to the local Boggy Creek habitat. Nest boxes have been installed to encourage birdlife. The schools’ actions have seen a dramatic increase in the birdlife which has returned to the school grounds. All garden bed areas are regularly maintained with mulch, and with drought tolerant planting, there has been a dramatic decrease in water use.
Other Benefits to the school since achieving a 5 star recognition has been a sense of increased community pride, students’ growing awareness and commitment to sustainable practices and the opportunity to publicise and promote the school in the wider community and media.
Achieving 5 star status has not stopped St Jude’s School’s ambition to further develop as a sustainable school. There are still many more practices to review, projects to undertake and integrated units of study involving environmental education to create environmental leadership of the children in our care.
By St. Jude’s School|2017-11-06T17:22:20+10:00April 29th, 2013|0 Comments