Maramba Primary School is a five star accredited Sustainable School. We have switched to part green energy which helps to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. We have reduced our energy and water consumption as well as the amount of rubbish sent to landfill, and are continuing to look at new and innovative ways to reduce our environmental footprint even further.
Initially an audit was conducted by Sunrise Energy which involved collating our energy, water, gas and waste accounts over a two year period. Then we looked at the different ways our school uses power. Light levels were measured in classrooms and the effectiveness of the light banks was assessed. From here we labelled the lights in the classrooms as not all lights needed to be on at one time owing to the natural light through windows. Sensors were fitted to high traffic areas and computers were turned off at power boards that had an on and off switch to further reduce our energy consumption and green house gases. Energy accounts are entered onto the Schools Environment Tracking System which allows ongoing monitoring. Energy Monitors have been appointed for each classroom to switch off when appliances are no longer in use.
Our largest producer of greenhouse gases is the transportation of students to and from school. Students are encouraged to walk to school every week through the ‘Walking Wednesday’ program.
In an attempt to reduce the school’s landfill waste we have recycling of paper as well as aluminium, glass, tetra packs and containers with the recycling symbol. Rubbish Free Lunches are also encouraged in a weekly competition to further motivate students and parents. Class monitors called ‘Nude Food Dudes’ check that no rubbish goes out into the playground. This has resulted in clean and welcoming school grounds. Each classroom has a compost bucket where children are encouraged to their fruit and vegetable scraps. On Fridays the compost is collected by our Grade 4 students and put into our Aerobin. The compost generated is dug into our vegetable garden which is tended by our Grade 3 and 4 students.
In the area of water we have become an accredited ‘Live It Learn It’ school. We have had flow control valves fitted to all taps and installed a chemical urinal to further reduce our water usage. The Planet Savers club is working to reduce our waste water run off by collecting the run off for use on our gardens. We have successfully installed a number of water tanks through various grant schemes to provide water for toilets and the school gardens. We have taps with automatic shutoff and timers.
Environmental changes were introduced to the school community to promote better lifestyle choices. Signage is throughout the school to reinforce the best environmental practice. In our weekly newsletter we have Planet Saver’s Tips to inform the community of environmental ideas and initiatives. We have kept the wider community informed of our environmental initiatives through the local newspaper, education networks and local radio. Our inquiry learning approach supports and challenges students with their learning, as well as encouraging them to use their knowledge to take action in the community. Our environmental focus is further reflected through this.
Students from Grades 2-6 have the opportunity to participate in our lunchtime Planet Savers club which meets each Tuesday. Headed up by our Grade 6 Environmental Captains, this group takes on a number of tasks including education the school community about how we can reduce consumption of water and energy, encouraging people to minimise the amount of rubbish and waste generated, publicising mobile phone and battery recycling schemes and taking on community programs such as clothing or shoe collections to divert these items from going to landfill. Energy monitors make ‘spot checks’ some recess and lunchtimes to ensure that heaters, air conditioners and lights are not left on in empty rooms.
Our students have been involved in the planning and construction of gardens using plants indigenous to the local area to help increase the biodiversity of our school grounds. They have developed a sense of ownership and responsibility for our gardens and work continuously to maintain them.
To achieve all this, Maramba Primary School has worked with the City of Casey, C.E.R.E.S., Environment Victoria, Victoria University, Australian Greenhouse Office, Sustainability Victoria, Westernport Greenhouse Alliance, Energy Doctor and Sunrise Energy.