We use multiple tanks to harvest rainwater for toilet flushing. At any one time we have 175,000 litres in storage for this purpose. This makes the college largely independent of drinking water for toilet flushing.
We used a successful Community Water Grant of $50,000 to install a sub-surface irrigation below the school soccer pitch. Delivering the irrigation water below the surface removes any losses through evaporation and encourages the grass roots to grow deeper and makes the grass more resistant to extreme dry conditions. This installation now gives our students a safe playing surface year round.
Our wetland is now well and truly established providing a habitat that becomes more diverse each day. Water flows through the wetland and is "cleaned" by the plants growing in it. As the water leaves the wetland it is stored in an underground tank that is connected to the sub-surface irrigation system that waters the soccer pitch, further reducing our use of potable water. This space also serves the college as a diverse outdoor classroom.
The year 7 harvest garden is now fully up and running. The garden beds are constructed out of plastic made from our toner cartridges that have been recycled and a 30,000-litre tank stores rainwater to water the plants. Students plant out seasonal vegetables, harvest these and use them in their home economics classes. The purpose of this garden is to educate students in sustainable food growing practices whilst at the same time educating them about the need for healthy eating in the face of increasing youth obesity. The year sevens have really made the area their own by making scarecrows and constructing signs for their garden beds. We have also received an achievement award for our gardens from the School's Garden Award Scheme.
Our solar system continues to reduce the college ecological footprint. Electricity generated is first used by the college, and as we are grid connected, surplus electricity generated is sold back to the electricity company. As of December 2009 we have generated over 18,000 kWh of electricity and reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by 24,000 kgs. This is the equivalent of running a TV for 127,000 hours or the pollution from a family car over 1,932 days.
We are using a program called Hydroshare to monitor our water use patterns. Data loggers are attached to our water meters and they record the amount of water we use and when we use it. We look carefully at any water used between midnight and 3am, as this is most likely to be leakage. We have used this system to find and seal leaks of over 6,000,000 litres per year and have saved the college over $19,000 in water and sewage costs since its introduction. Hydroshare and the use of tanks have seen us reduce our total water use by 85%. This combined with our water education program saw BSC gain Gold accreditation in the government "Water - Learn It, Live It" program, the first secondary school in the whole of Victoria to achieve this milestone. Minister for Water, Tim Holding visited the college to witness first hand the measures we have in place to reduce water use and to present our Gold accreditation.
Federal Minister for Climate Change and Water Penny Wong also visited the college this year to meet with myself and members of the leadership team to discuss ways schools can contribute to reducing their contribution to climate change and to look at the measures we at BSC were undertaking. Our students also engaged the State Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Innovation Gavin Jennings in similar discussions when he too visited the college to experience first hand the measures we have in place to create a more sustainable future.
Chief Seattle of the Suqwamish tribe said, "All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the children of the earth". We owe it to the children that we currently teach, and to their children yet to come, to leave a better world for them and future generations. At BSC we take this responsibility very seriously and will continue to develop and implement initiatives that deliver in Sustainable Practices. Watch this space!
Head of Sustainable Practices