As I looked through the data collected throughout 2010 and entered on the SETS website, it was very difficult to see any trends or to be inspired by huge improvements, and I began to feel very dejected!
However, I then reflected on the events of 2010 and began to understand why this was so.
At the end of 2009 our school received BER funding and this was to be the beginning of a very challenging time for our school! Outlined below are a few of the hindrances to ‘environmental bliss’
- Extra skips needed to be ordered for rubbish removal and recycling.
- Many teachers came up to the school during their holidays to cull and organise classrooms (extra lighting/heating/electricity usage).
- Worm farms had to be relocated and some decommissioned.
- Our Frogbog was lost during groundworks, as was the vegetable garden.
- Our Solar in Schools Agreement had to be altered (some of the buildings weren’t there anymore!)
- Yard duty rosters for the children had to re-done.
- Recycling bins could not be picked up from the usual spot.
- The whole school down-sized from two buildings into one, and the preps relocated into portables on the oval.
- Some of our meters could not be read regularly by authorities (because areas for redevelopment were fenced off).
- Computers were often not working due to hardware relocation – which made entering data onto SETS was difficult and time consuming.
Although it is very difficult to draw any conclusions from our data, the most important thing is that we have collected the information. In the future it will allow us to compare our energy usage now with our usage in the new building. It will be very interesting for the children to discover the reasons for this.
HIGHLIGHTS OF 2010
Throughout 2010 staff and students at Templestowe Heights have been working through the energy module of the Resourcesmart Program. The catalyst for our work was the installation of our solar panels. We received grants from the National Solar School Initiative and Victorian Solar in Schools program.
We also undertook an audit of our energy usage throughout the school. The Environmental Captains were included in the walkthrough and were therefore able to learn how our energy is used and pass information on to others in our school via the Environmental Club and the weekly newsletter. At fortnightly meetings the class captains made signs to encourage others to use resources responsibly (eg. reminders to turn off computers at night, switch off lights in the room when not needed, open blinds or curtains, use of ceiling fans, double sided worksheets, recycling).
We celebrated the installation of solar panels with a whole school Energy Day. The children dressed in yellow and were encouraged to dress creatively for the day. We invited a guest speaker who talked to the children about how solar panels work and answered their questions. The children rotated through a variety of activities which included experimenting with solar powered toys, making windmills, kite-making, handmade paper and making T-shirts with energy-saving tips which were then displayed on the fence at the front of the school for the community to enjoy. The children loved the activities and made lots of discoveries about energy.
We continue to make the children aware of the need to reduce their environmental footprint by involving them in decision making and providing them with hands on activities that stimulate their minds and encourage them to make a difference.