How can a public primary school get help to improve energy and water efficiency and manage costs?

After discussions with my daughter's principal I realise how difficult things can be for a small school. This school is "sealed" as it's under the flight path. So they've had double-glazed windows installed that can't be opened, and therefore the air-con system must always be on. This is a huge ageing system that is very inefficient. Plus the lighting system is old, inefficient and sub-standard. The Principal and teachers are extremely dedicated, but don't understand this stuff and need to focus on teaching. And it seems they get no support from the Department. Any ideas and suggestions would be appreciated! Thanks

Asked by Andrew Williamson

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17 answers

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  • The school could try going back to the dark ages and teaching the kids how our ancestors managed living without air-con and electric lighting. Teaching outdoors, using lanterns, wearing clothing appropriate for the weather. Using food and drink to cool and warm their bodies, the effect of exercise in warming the body up. You would be amazed at how much the kids would learn by learning through experience. The possibilities are endless. It might also give them some perspective on how those who cannot afford aircon and electricity and modern day gadgets live daily as well as an appreciation of our growing homeless communities. Obviously this is only a short term solution but certainly a valuable learning experience if it was conducted in a specific year each year and the kids might come up with some creative other ways of saving energy that we as adults reliant on these things had not.

    Answered by N LeitchRating: 0
  • Andrew, the Sustainable Business Program may be able to help on the water efficiency portion of your question. The program runs in Randwick, Woollarha and Waverley Council areas and can do a free water audit.

    I agree with John that an energy audit is definitely the first step to understanding the issues. There may be lots of "low hanging fruit" the school may do to reduce costs, then use savings to fund some of Johns other suggestions or recommendations from the audit.

    A few additional resources to look in to:
    School Energy Savings Program NSW ( they may be eligible, but I'd it should have good resources).
    The Energy Saver Program ( for resources).
    Education for Sustainability (EFS) is another government initiative to bring sustainability to a wider audience and share knowledge and resources. Teachers can relate a profile and search other resources teachers use.

    Answered by Megan Sharkey
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  • The first step is to have the power usage audited to measure where the power is being used. There might be some relatively easy reductions which can be made.

    The air-conditioning system may well benefit from being serviced. It must be supplying fresh air to the classroom, but shouldn't be heating or cooling when it's not required. Check it has a ventilation-only setting. The settings could be checked by the technician who normally services the air-conditioning system.

    Are there ceiling fans in the school? Using ceiling fans with air-conditioning can improve the effectiveness of the aircon for cooling and heating. Some new ceiling fans such as the Aeratron use a fraction of the energy of traditional ceiling fans.

    Finally, good PV installer could evaluate the potential for PV power to meet some of the schools power usage.
    Community Power Agency is setting up a group specifically to develop a funding framework for schools to finance solar installs.

    Answered by John CaleyRating: 0
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