Prioritising a greener future

St Michael’s is committed to exploring and implementing environmentally sustainable practices across our entire School. As set out in our Strategic Direction: Towards 2030, it is our aim to make the most of our resources and work to minimise our environmental footprint.

The School’s environmental sustainability principles and goals are defined by the Board’s Facilities Infrastructure and Technology Committee (FIAT) and implemented by the School Executive and the Environmental Sustainability Committee, which is made up of students, staff and key suppliers. To date, the School has introduced a range of sustainability initiatives as part of our Facilities Improvement Program.

Chair of the Environmental Sustainability Committee and Director of Business at St Michael’s, Mr Farai Mufuka is extremely proud of the outcomes achieved so far and is looking forward to introducing other initiatives.

As part of our Strategic Direction we have committed to bold targets around reducing our environmental footprint. It is our responsibility to take actions to sustain our School into the future and contribute to a greener world for generations to come.Mr Farai Mufuka, Director of Business

Our commitment to renewable energy

In March 2021, St Michael’s entered into an agreement with Momentum Energy, ensuring that 100% of the electricity used at the school comes from renewable sources. This initiative is expected to offset 1,100 tonnes of carbon emissions annually, which is equivalent to taking 1,100 cars off the road each year.

Fast forward to 2024, solar panels have been installed across the campus, generating over 250kW of power. Additionally, a virtual energy network has been established to ensure the efficient distribution of renewable energy to where it is most needed. This robust system not only supports our daily operations but also significantly contributes to our commitment to sustainability.

Momentum is owned by Hydro Tasmania, Australia’s largest generator of renewable energy, and we are excited about being part of the transition to a more sustainable future. It’s fantastic to see St Michael’s embracing renewable energy and we are excited about helping other sectors in the community follow suit.Ms Amy Childs, Momentum Energy

Waste Management System

After enrolling in the ResourceSmart Schools Waste Module and conducting a waste audit in 2022, we discovered that our recycling rate was a mere 13%. This implies that out of the 128.4 tons of waste we generate annually, only 19.56 tons were being recycled. Following this audit, we set an initial goal to achieve a recycling rate of 30% by the end of 2024.

To reach this goal, we replaced our old bins with new Waste Management Stations strategically placed around the campus. These stations are equipped with separate bins for different types of waste, including paper, plastic, metal, organic, and general waste.

The results of these efforts have included:

  • By the end of 2023, St Michael’s recycling rates increased from 13% to an impressive 30% in just one term.
  • Over the first semester of 2024, recycling rates further increased to 35%.
  • These achievements demonstrate the dedication and commitment of the School community who embraced the challenge, and we have now set a new target of reaching a 50% recycling rate by the end of 2024.

In June, we were named the winner in the Campus Infrastructure and Operations School of the Year category at Sustainability Victoria’s ResourceSmart Schools Awards.

This award recognises the impact of our Waste Management System and awareness campaign. In addition to this, our transition to 100% renewable energy has positioned us as a net energy exporter on weekends and school holidays. This is a testament to our commitment to sustainability and our efforts to create a greener future.

At St Michael’s, we are proud of the collective efforts of our School community in championing sustainability. Through innovative initiatives and collaborative efforts, we are working to create a greener, more environmentally responsible campus. As we move forward, we are eager to explore new ways of embedding sustainable practices in everything that we do, ensuring that environmental stewardship remains at the forefront of our mission.Mr Farai Mufuka, Director of Business

Other key outcomes achieved to date include:

  • Water conservation is a key focus area at St Michael’s. The school has implemented water-efficient irrigation systems and gives careful consideration to all new plantings to ensure they are water-efficient and well-suited to the environment. Investments have been made in an underground rainwater tank and pool covers that reduce water loss by 95%. These measures collectively conserve approximately 464,000 litres of water per year.
  • In early 2019, the school completed a project to replace all inefficient internal lights with energy-efficient LED lights. This initiative was aimed at reducing our energy load and improving the quality of lighting in our learning spaces. The replacement of 1,494 fittings with LED lights has resulted in an annual energy saving of approximately 142,496 kilowatt-hours, enough to power an average of 23 households per year.
  • The Parent Community Association has also funded the installation of water fountains in key areas around the campus. These fountains provide clean, filtered water and help reduce the need for single-use plastic bottles. To date, this initiative has prevented over 75,260 plastic water bottles from ending up in landfill.
  • Other initiatives include replacing disposable products with biodegradable alternatives and promoting the use of reusable containers and cutlery in the school café, Dolly’s.
  • The school’s printer fleet, supplied by Ricoh, is part of a carbonZero service. This service offsets all emissions generated from printing by planting trees.

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To find out more, explore How to Enrol or contact our Student Enrolments Team on +61 3 8530 3310 or at enrolments@stmichaels.vic.edu.au.