Chum Creek Primary is a small, rural school with a long history of awareness of, (and concern for), the environment. The school community believes that caring for the environment and educating our children for a sustainable future are core issues. We believe it is vital to work towards creating a more sustainable school and future. An effective environmental education program needs to encompass learnings which are about the environment, in the environment and for the environment. We aim to cover all of these aspects in our environmental education program.
Learning for Sustainability
For many years, the school has participated in the Shire of Yarra Ranges Learning for Sustainability Program (LfS) and has achieved Stage 3 status in this program. The five stage Learning for Sustainability Program aims to assist schools function in an environmentally responsible manner and bring issues related to environmental sustainability into the school curriculum. The Chum Creek Primary Sustainability Committee, comprised of students, staff and parents, implement and oversee this process.
As part of the Learning for Sustainability program, we conduct audits in the areas of energy, water, materials and waste in order to establish our consumption levels and allow is to identify areas of reduction. From this we have identified peask in electricity usage and undertaken an illumination audit to identify possibilities for de-lamping.
The Schools Water Efficiency Program (SWEP) has completed a water use audit at our school and has established that we are already very water efficient. We have also been accredited as a Water - Live It, Learn It school by Yarra Valley Water. For over ten years the schools sports ground has been watered by sub-surface, waste water irrigation, and slimline low flush toilets have been installed throughout the school. Buckets under drinking fountains catch water which is used on the school gardens. In 2007 we won a large water tank from Bluescope Steel in the Tank-A-Day Challenge which is now installed and is collecting water for the vegie gardens and also acts as a fire fighting reserve. Our current project, Catch It, aims at making the school self-sufficient in non-drinking water with the installation of a further eight water tanks throughout the school grounds. These were funded from our successful application to the Community Water Grants.
We have developed a thermal policy to minimise heater and cooler use in the school. This provides a checklist of actions before using appliances, such as opening/closing doors and wearing appropriate clothing, as well as room temperature parameters at which heaters and coolers are to be turned on and off.
The Sustainability Committee has implemented a school holiday shut down procedure to ensure appliances are turned off, and power usage over the holiday is minimised. This includes all fridges & freezers, hot water heaters, space heaters and coolers and most of the computer network. Our ultimate aim is to extend this to weekends and then daily. We aim to save considerable power.
We are also pursuing the installation of solar panelling which will help minimize power usage from the mains grid as well as teaching students the use and value of alternative energy sources.
The Sustainability Committee is currently developing a transport audit tool to examine the modes of transport staff and students use, to and from school. This will allow us to improve the already strong car-pooling network. Many students travel home from school using the local school bus service.