Schools take up Pope’s challenge on environment

Mt Maria College principal Glenn McConville, with students Teresa Rampa Dowling and James Orman, with a school energy report (The Catholic Leader)

Brisbane Catholic schools this year embarked on a pioneering clean-energy project that aims to contribute to a planet-saving “ecological conversion". Source: The Catholic Leader.

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“We’ve made a public commitment to living Laudato Si’ … it’s not just about saving power or generating power, but looking at the way of caring for the environment … for sustainability,” Brisbane Catholic Education communications and marketing manager John Phelan said.

Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, is the title of Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical that challenges Catholics to make practical changes to the environment around us.

As the Book of Genesis explains: humans are stewards of God’s creation, charged with cultivating and caring for all creation (Genesis 2:15).

BCE is exploring a far-reaching mix of energy-sustainable initiatives in its schools and offices.

There are plans to introduce solar and ground-sourced heat-exchange-assisted heating, cooling and ventilating (GSHE), eco-power and water storage, LED-lighting, insulation and natural shade, and waste management.

At Brisbane’s Mt Maria College – one of eight schools involved in trial initiatives – ground-sourced heat exchange climate control fitted in a new music and performing arts building has proven a success, and a full-scale version will be introduced next year.

Compared to the savings in carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plant, the GSHE system can save the equivalent each year of more than 72,000km driven in a passenger car.

Across Brisbane archdiocese 135 schools and eight BCE offices are now collecting energy consumption data that is helping to plan the best ways to cut power usage and costs.

Eventually, the data will be used to make the most efficient case-by-case combinations of energy use throughout the day.

Collecting energy consumption data was already saving “substantial amounts of money” for a “comparatively small investment”, Mr Phelan said.

“The payoff is that it’s financial, but it’s also about saving the planet, and being stewards of God’s creation,” he said.

“It’s an exemplar of what other schools around Australia might do.”


Schools’ energy commitment: It’s about just about power but ‘caring for the environment’ (The Catholic Leader

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