year, the ResourceSmart Awards are presented, celebrating the achievements of
sustainability programs in schools across the state. On 11 November, the
finalists all had their sustainability stories showcased at IMAX Theatre at the
were a number of Catholic schools that were finalists and several that also won
the award in their category.
Here's how one school, St Joseph’s School in Elsternwick, implemented their sustainability program.
By Claire Ryle – Sustainability
began at St Joseph’s in 2013 as a graduate teacher, and in 2014 was given the
new role of sustainability leader. This was a new venture for St Joseph’s as we
did not have an environmental education plan in place. We signed up to the
ResourceSmart program in 2014 and very quickly the culture of our community began
to change. Sustainability and caring for the environment were the hot topics.
Simon Collis showed enormous faith in and support to the program, allowing me a
full day's release each week to work on our goals and programs. I conducted professional learning around using our resources and current
thinking within sustainability education.
At the beginning of the program, we conducted a student-led
energy audit with Planet Savers to determine behaviours and infrastructural
changes that were needed. We presented this data to students, school board and teaching staff.
One of our initiatives in response to this audit was the
Energy Dollars program. We created the program to reward positive change within
the school and to create a community that is motivated through positive
reinforcement. We also wanted the incentive to be linked to the environment and
educating students further about sustainability.
After brainstorming positive and negative energy behaviours,
we came up with lists that were displayed in classrooms. Students received $5
reward for displaying positive energy behaviour. Each class would then spend
the month trying to earn dollars. The school leaders conducted regular
inspections and would report on two
things that the class had done really well and one area that they could
When our energy bill arrived we would divide the bill among
the classes and each class would pay their share. Outside each
classroom we created posters displaying updates of the
running total each class had earned.
Students participated in an Energy-themed day with
educational activities. We made a large sign for our entry window that said Come inside, a great change awaits. The
day really had the impact that we were hoping for and students were engaged and
excited. We also introduced our school mascot, Captain Green. Some of the
infrastructural changes included re-lamping all of our old T8
lighting with more LED lighting. We also installed tinting into our north and west
facing classrooms that were hit with direct sunlight.
We have seen a reduction in energy consumption at St Joseph’s:
decrease from 311.21kg of greenhouse gasses per student in the 2015 school year
to 192.9kg in 2016.
reduction in our electricity consumption from 206 KwH to 142 KwH per student.
our gas from 313.79 Mj per student to 150.96 in 2016.
building size of the school doubled and we also saw a student enrolment
increase of 8.3%. We expected to see a significant peak in consumption and
implemented changes to see that the impact both environmentally and financially
could be minimised.
moment we are focused on reducing the amount of waste that we are
sending to landfill each month. Each month we communicate our current goals,
successes and what is going on through our newsletter and staff
student leadership team has had a profound impact on our community this year.
The students are energetic and passionate and undertake their roles with a
great sense of pride and responsibility.
year our student leadership has:
- raised $26 000 for
the installation of new water tanks through the Well Waters Program with the
Port Phillip Ecocentre
- run the Energy
Dollars Program – reducing our consumption significantly
- introduced the
Chicken Hatching program and Chicken Curriculum at St Joseph’s
- presented at the Steps to Sustainability conference
- mentored local
schools about current sustainability goals and programs
- worked with
students to set goals in each of the ResourceSmart areas and plan ways to
achieve their goal
- planned and run
environment day where students learnt all about our precious resource of water
- and, last but not
least, won the Primary Energy School of the Year award!
The award was a great recognition for everything the school has
been working towards in the area of sustainability, and has been a great
achievement that the entire community is very proud of. St Joseph’s are
beginning the Waste module of the ResourceSmart program in 2017 and have their
sights set on making big changes and improvements in this area.