Going off the grid

2 September 2016
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A huge new solar installation will make Beaconhills College one of the largest solar-powered schools in Australia.

The College is about to install a new 200kw solar system at its Berwick Campus, to add to its existing 100kw system. Another 100kw installation is also operating at the Pakenham Campus.

The new Berwick installation will lead to a 40 per cent reduction in the overall electricity purchased for the campus from the grid.

The move is just one of a raft of environmental initiatives set out in the College’s new ‘Green report’. The report charts the achievements under the school’s innovative Environmental and Sustainability plan, aimed at lightening its environmental footprint.

Encouraging students to be responsible stewards of the environment is also one of the school’s key ‘Learning That Matters’ philosophies.

Business Manager David Young said that for students to embrace the ‘green message’, it was important to lead by example.

He said the Beaconhills College goal was to be fully sustainable on its own energy within 10 years.

“We have introduced many strategies to help reduce our impact on the environment,” Mr Young said. “The results have been significant, particularly given the growth of our school, but of course there is always more we can do.”

One of the learning benefits of the solar installations is a web-based reporting system which allows students in class to track the energy levels produced by the sun.

The College has three worm forms which consume about 290kg of organic waste each week, along with a three-bin recycling system throughout the school. There are 46 water tanks which have helped cut mains water use from 45 litres per person, per day, to 11 litres per person in 2012. The target for next year is just seven litres,

Six vegetable gardens across both campuses, as well as two indigenous food gardens, supply produce for menus in Food Technology classes while the compost goes back to the worm farms. Little Beacons Learning Centre uses the fresh, organic produce for its pre-school menus while the ‘paddock to plate’ philosophy also helps teach children about healthy food and sustainability.

Mr Young said Beaconhills would continue to keep working hard to educate students and staff about sustainability.

“We will also keep consulting with experts on ways to further improve, ensuring we tap in to recent research and find the industry best practice,” he said.

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