Stewarding our Energy

Stewarding our Energy

Thursday, 4 April 2019  | Gerry - Administration Manager

With an election coming up soon we are hearing a lot about the use and cost of energy in the community. Different views abound. These result in alternative visions for the environmental ‘good life’. With this in mind I thought it would be worthwhile reflecting on the policy that the Association has in this area, the newer challenges we face in living out the policy, and some actions that you and your children might take.

Governance policy 9.4 says, “The Association shall implement an environmentally sustainable approach to its infrastructure and school living environment.” This has implications for how we build our buildings, and how we use our buildings. More recently we have come to a greater awareness that the classroom environment has a significant impact on learning. Learning diminishes if it’s too hot or too cold. And so we have over the last four or five years been implementing ways to modify our classroom environments. However, this means greater energy use through air-conditioning and consequent lower sustainability. In one sense we prepared for this three years ago by replacing all lighting in the school with LED lights. The annual energy saved is now being used by increasing numbers of air-conditioning units.

The place of solar power generation is also on our minds. Where does it fit in our Infrastructure Master Plan? In many ways solar generation is a good fit for schools because most of a school’s power usage is during daylight hours (although the very peak of production occurs in the summer holidays). I recently visited a school that has a solar power system capable of generating 880kw. They are almost at the point of being considered a solar farm. And this term some of our Middle Primary students are working on a project looking at the costs and benefits of such a system for MECS.

To think about these matters could be treated as an academic kind of exercise with no practical outcomes. Quite frequently I see flyers arrive in the mail or my email promoting another competition to win a prize or a grant to pursue sustainability. To me that signals that we have not really embedded the notion of energy stewardship in our hearts and minds as an Australian culture. So I’d like to put a little challenge out to you (and to our teachers).

Ask yourself and your children a couple of questions each day. And answer them through deeds not words.

How am I minimising my energy use today?
How am I modelling to my children sustainable energy use?

Here are a few of the actions you can take to answer these questions:

Turn off lights when you leave a room for more than 10 seconds (only of course if no-one else is in the room!).

Turn off your heating/cooling when you leave the room (and there is no-one in the room).

If your heating/cooling is on, make sure doors and windows are closed.

If a room is too warm, cool it first by opening windows.

Decide what too warm means – choose a higher temp, e.g. 26 rather than 21 degrees. Then don’t turn on cooling until you hit that mark (I have a thermometer inside at home to help me with this).

If the room is cool, open any blinds to allow passive solar warming.

Look at your electricity, gas and water bills with your children.

In other words, actively manage your energy use together with your children.

You might even encourage your child to become your and our energy conscience. What I mean is - ask them to be alert for un-necessary energy use both at school and at home. When they notice it, encourage them speak up about it to their teachers or to you.

Our planet and future generations will thank them for their stewardship, and so will your budget and the MECS budget.


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