Establishing Sustainability in a New School

Pakenham Springs Primary School opened in 2008 and the site incorporates an Infant Welfare Centre, a kindergarten for three year olds and four year olds as well as providing a meeting place for new mothers. It is a one stop children’s service provider.

The school is situated on the fringe of the south eastern suburbs in what was a predominately a rural town with some industry, surrounded by vegetable, fruit and cattle farms. It is a town that is expanding at an ever increasing rate and is aiming to attract many new businesses into the area.
The buildings of Pakenham Springs were designed with many environmentally sustainable features. A large water tank under the car park to collect storm water runoff to water the gardens, water tanks which provide water for the toilets, timers on many of the lights, building layout and design which allows for large amounts of natural light to filter into the classroom and windows which allow heat to escape, within the roof line. We also have solar energy and a computer which shows the students how much solar energy we are collecting and using, as well as our water usage. One of the benefits of being a new school and moving into the Resource Smart Schools program was that the architect provided a map and details of all plants planted which helped us prepare for the Biodiversity unit. With all these features we were already ahead of many schools that begin their journey with Resource Smart Schools.
We are now working on behavioural practices, as it is all well and good having these features, but we now need to encourage and develop environmentally friendly behaviours with our teachers, students and the school community. A starting point was organising teachers into focus groups, one of which was the environment. There is a representative from each section of the school. We then organised the Year six students into teams, one of which was environmental. Both teams meet regularly with our first major project an energy audit and labelling the school to encourage energy conservation. We came up with the slogan You turn it on. You turn it off. We chose the Growling Grass Frog as our logo as it is an endangered species in our area.
A walk through energy audit by Sunrise Energy was conducted which showed us areas we could focus on. Now the student environmental group has started random energy audits of classrooms. A checklist (see following) is used that shows if a class receives 5 ticks they are a five star classroom. Along the way we found computers in work areas and the library that had been left on, so notes were also left on these to help improve environmental behaviours.
5 Ticks = 5 Stars
The environmental group has had a quick look in your classroom and we saw:

 

Yes
No
the heaters off
the doors closed
the computers off
the lights turned off
the smartboard off

 

If you received five ticks in the yes column, well done. This means you had a five star classroom. Keep up the good work. If not, now you know what we are looking for in a five star environmentally friendly classroom.
Along the way teachers have had professional development sessions with Eric Bottomley and Sue Clowes from CERES which has really supported the development of our environmental program.
We are recycling items through the local council – The City of Cardinia. We have three large bins to cater for our school population of 430 students. We are recycling paper and cardboard through a local collection company.
Our rubbish free lunches started with a tremendous start in 2008 with us winning first prize in the Beginner School category for the Rubbish Free Lunch Competition. We now have a weekly completion where we focus on the percentage of students in our classes that bring a rubbish free lunch. This allows for the variation in the number of students in a grade, whilst focussing on the positive achievement of a rubbish free lunch, rather than focussing on the number of wrappers brought to school.
We have a gardening group which has worked on weeding and has moved into planting seeds for our community market. We are planning a vegetable garden and have worked with a parent and the City of Cardinia to work towards this aim. The City of Cardinia has also provided hands on training for students with planting seeds and experience in establishing a no dig vegetable garden. The council is also encouraging families and students to embrace a healthy life style, which includes healthy eating options through their Go For Your Life project.
By Pakenham Springs Primary School|2017-11-06T17:19:55+10:00April 26th, 2013|0 Comments
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