Glen Katherine has been auditing its energy usage – that of paper, water, electricity, gas and rubbish – through the SETS (School Energy Tracking System) program. This data has allowed the school community to identify areas for improvement and make real differences in the way we use resources.
Several large water tanks have been installed around the school and some have been connected to the toilet facilities. Students have used this collected rainwater for watering garden and vegetable beds. Students are also encouraged to take their drink bottles home to be washed and returned to school full, so that water is being brought from home.
Classroom monitors now ensure that lights are switched off during breaks, computers shutdown at the end of the day and paper and other materials are being recycled correctly. The GK ‘Green Team’ take it upon themselves to carry out surprise checks around the school, auditing lights, use of recycle bins, correct waste management etc. which has also been effective. Turning off appliances at the power point has been identified as a way that the school can further reduce its electricity usage.
The school community conducts holds several special days throughout the year, highlighting ways we can be more sustainable and improve our ecological footprint. One of these is “Green Thumb Day” where students wear something green and bring a gold coin donation, which goes towards raising money to buy trees to plant around the school. A parent trained as a horticulturist is currently mapping out a landscaping plan for the school. Part of the plan will incorporate the use of deciduous trees on north facing classrooms, which are warm in winter but overheat in summer!
“Nude Food Day” has been another initiative highlighting the need for families to reduce the amount of rubbish brought to school in lunchboxes. By demonstrating other ways we can bring our food to school besides being wrapped in plastic, families are assisting in our landfill waste within the school. Designated eating areas in the playground has also helped in making sure what rubbish is brought to school is put into bins rather than left on the ground!
The “Green Team” of students are very passionate about how the school community can become more sustainable. In 2011 they hope to be able to apply for grants to assist in the purchasing of solar panels and there has even been some discussion about a filtration system so that the collected rainwater will be pure enough for human consumption! Their energy and enthusiasm indicates a bright future for GK in improving our ecological footprint and becoming a more sustainable community.