AussI September 28 2010, 0 Comments
AUSTRALIAN SUSTAINABLE SCHOOLS INITIATIVE (AUSSI)
Providing support to school communities to learn to live more sustainably
The Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative (AuSSI) provides practical support to schools and their communities to live and work more sustainably. It fosters a whole school approach with measurable environmental, educational, social and financial benefits.
AuSSI engages students, staff and members of the community to improve the management of a school’s resources and facilities—including energy, waste, water, biodiversity, landscapes, products and materials.
AuSSI also integrates these activities with teaching and learning across the curriculum, including key elements of social sustainability, such as cultural understanding and social justice. By participating in a learning by doing process, students achieve a better understanding of the world in which they live, and have opportunities to help create a more sustainable future.
AuSSI helps to build sustainability knowledge, skills and motivation to take action.
Almost 3000 schools (or 30% of schools nationally) across Australia are now participating in AuSSI.
AuSSI schools are achieving immediate and measurable improvements in their use of resources, grounds and facilities. Some participating schools have reported reductions in waste collection of up to 80%, reductions in water consumption of up to 60%, and savings on energy consumption of 20% with associated reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
Schools are also achieving broader social, well-being and educational benefits from increased school pride and interest in learning. AuSSI helps improve students’ understanding of the complexity of the world in which they live by developing their knowledge, critical thinking skills, values and capacity to participate in decision making about environmental, social and economic development issues.
AuSSI provides a way for students, parents, teachers and the community to be actively involved in sustainable school management.
Make a whole school commitment to becoming more sustainable
Develop goals and an action plan Implement, monitor and evaluate the action plan
Case Studies from AuSSI schools
Engaging in AuSSI can take many and varied forms, reflecting a school’s unique character and culture, and addressing its particular needs.
Below are a few case studies from each state and what they have achieved.
A newly installed photovoltaic solar power system forms the basis of learning opportunities across the curriculum and has greatly reduced school power bills; students conduct a water audit resulting in the installation of dual flush toilets and improved irrigation for the school oval.
Passive air cooling measures are implemented in the assembly room following student led surveys, energy audits and research, including liaising with an architect and the community; students study an endangered ecological community located within the school grounds, with each year group adopting three different species for observation, thereby building up students’ knowledge of their local environment over time.
Students and the community work together to transform school grounds into vegetable and native gardens and an outdoor learning area; a network of schools work together to collect batteries from the community for recycling.
Students planted a forestry plot, developing links with the wider community, and an arboriculture and sustainability subject is integrated into the curriculum; students maintain a bush food garden, drawing on local Indigenous knowledge; a rubbish free canteen serves food on reusable plates with limited waste and avoids purchasing individually wrapped items.
Students create a natural water filtration system by planting reeds in the school dam and monitor the health of the dam’s ecosystem; students plant native vegetation to tackle salinity and lower the water table on farm paddocks through partnerships with community groups and council.
A 2.4 hectare EcoClassroom is maintained by students and used for a variety of purposes, such as flora and fauna data collection, soil monitoring and Indigenous studies; a newly installed water retention pond forms the basis of mathematics lessons and saves the school millions of litres of water annually.
An annual Celebrating Sustainability Expo connects students’ sustainability activities to the wider community; students conduct informative tours of the school’s own wetland, dry forest and vegetable garden.
Water efficiency is taught through harvesting rainwater for use on drought-tolerant, student-maintained gardens; students re-vegetate a local retirement village with support from local businesses, promoting cooperation within the community.
For further information about these AuSSI case studies and how to become an AuSSI school, please visit www.environment.gov.au/education/aussi.