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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Carbon neutral by design

Canberra’s newest public school, the Margaret Hendry School in Taylor, has set a new benchmark for delivering environmental outcomes.

“This school is a brand new school and we have taken the opportunity to really look to the future, to make sure we are creating a school that has an environmentally friendly legacy,” Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability Shane Rattenbury said.

The ACT public school will be the first to produce zero emissions in its operation with a range of initiatives used to ensure it is carbon neutral.

Features include: 100kW solar panels to reduce demand on the electricity grid and school energy costs; automated LED lighting with integrated motion sensor control to save power; double glazing to reduce the need for heating and cooling; electric boosted solar hot water to provide low cost, zero emission hot water; external shading to keep learning environments naturally cooler; an air conditioning system which can transfer heat from one part of the building to another to improve energy efficiency; and a cooling system that flushes cool night air into the school buildings during summer to reduce the need for cooling during the day.

Minister Rattenbury said the school will not use natural gas and will instead source its energy requirements from renewable electricity alone.

“Replacing natural gas with electrification makes sense in the ACT as we will have 100% renewable electricity by 2020. Margret Hendry School is an example of the type of public facility we will see much more of in Canberra,” he said.

The ACT Government said the inclusion of technologies that maximise the efficient use of electricity, in addition to the use of on-site generation of renewable energy, showcases how sustainable design principles can achieve cost- and energy-efficient schools to support the ACT’s target of zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.

Additional carbon emission reduction strategies are being rolled out in existing schools.

“Across the rest of the system we’ve got a real spectrum of schools, some that are really quite old and some that are obviously more modern. The government has a steady program to upgrade those schools,” Mr Rattenbury said.

These include roof-mounted solar panels in all public schools, LED lighting upgrades, insulation and glazing upgrades, sustainable transport options and involving students and teachers in sustainability programs.

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