Key features of Energy in action at EVPS.
Epping Views PS Energy Project
TravelSmart: Epping Views has come together with a member of the Whittlesea council to design a travel plan for our school. The aim of the plan is to make students aware of alternate forms of transport than travelling by car, and build awareness of the impact of carbon emissions. So far the plan is in its initial stages. The school has begun to collect data regarding travel behaviours of members of our school community and has conducted forums for teachers, students and parents to have input into why people choose a particular mode of travel.
Through data collection by the Whittlesea council, we have found that a large portion of our student population travels by car. Apart from concerns surrounding the lack of physical activity in our children, and increased traffic congestion, the amount of carbon being emitted from these cars is a challenge for our school. A teacher from our school, in conjunction with a representative from the Whittlesea council have spoken to students, teachers and parents about how Epping Views can encourage more people to consider alternate modes of transport. Those students who walk or ride to school decided that the most effective way to increase the amount of walkers and riders was to encourage students whose houses are on their daily travel route to join them. Our parents discussed that the lack of safe crossing points is of concern, particularly on a busy road which leads to an estate that houses many of our student population. We have had several walk to school days which have been well attended. To further support TravelSmart we have applied for grants to build a bicycle shed that can hold up to one hundred bikes and train teachers to implement a comprehensive bicycle education programs.
Turn it off: From each of our seven classrooms, two children have volunteered to make sure that lights, fans and heaters in their room are turned off at break times. It is also left to their judgement to turn lights off if they believe there is enough natural light in their room, and turn off fans and heaters according to room temperature. The school is brand new so comparative data is unavailable to us, however we are confident that this will reduce energy consumption per student, and has positive learning outcomes for those involved. We have also purchased equipment to use in classrooms and in sustainability teams that allow students to investigate energy being emitted from electronic devices, with a range of different data produced.
The school recognised that it lacked the use of solar energy to provide power to the school. Therefore we applied for a $40,000 grant to have solar panels placed in our school. Forty eight panels have recently been fitted, allowing for up to 7 kilowatts of energy to be produced a day. We are confident that the panels can be utilised in tandem with our other energy saving techniques to assist us in working towards our goals surrounding energy consumption. In the near future, students will be able to access a program on computer that will enable them to see how much energy is being used at any given time. This will allow them to discover which items in the school consume the most energy when they are being used, and work towards developing ways of reducing their energy consumption. Students will also have the opportunity to see the amount of energy that is being generated by the solar panels. This will lead to key learning such as, investigating the sorts of days that allow the solar panels to generate the most energy.
Our energy action team identified that Epping Views does need energy for our school to run, however the role of the action team is to look at ways to reduce energy consumption. Firstly, the team identified the items in the school that use energy and then went about ways of reducing the amount of energy they use. Students believed that one of major changes that could be made is to use the large amounts of glass windows that allow students to learn in natural light, and therefore use less electrical light. The school design allows for natural light to be harnessed in all classrooms and windows are poster and display free spaces. They also considered that in order to limit the use of heaters and fans that students could be encouraged to wear weather appropriate clothing each day.
Currently the school is working towards its’ aspirational goal of keeping energy use and CO2 emissions per student to below:250 KWh/ year 0.4 T CO2. Since its opening in 2008, Epping Views has begun to work through the SEMP energy module which targets three key areas. They are the workplace and operational components, curriculum, and whole school community engagement. Under each of these areas, there are sub-areas and practices within them that need to be fulfilled. At this stage the school has either established, working towards or commenced a majority of the practices. The school has planned that as part of our scope and sequence, students will undertake a sustainability unit every even year, in conjunction with the regular student action team meetings. Our future plans involve continuing to embed a culture of environmental consciousness and sustainability in our classrooms, and to achieve the accreditation of being a five star sustainable school.