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Climate Ready Schools Guide

Water efficiency

Actions that conserve or use water more efficiently save water and electricity, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These actions can help save costs for your school. The Queensland Government provides Waterwise educational resources for schools and Using water wisely advice.

Key actions for schools

2.1  Conduct a water audit

Understanding your water usage will help you identify areas where you can take action to improve your water efficiency and reduce energy usage, wastewater generation and water costs.

A water audit will assess how, where and when your school uses water and involves an assessment of:

  • your school’s water bills for the past 12 months
  • whether you have any leaks.

Find a water auditor

A water audit can be conducted by a representative within the school community. Resources include:

2.2  Develop a water plan

Once a water audit has been completed, develop and implement a water plan which may cover the following topics:

Managing your water use and bills

  • Understand your water bill. Your water service provider can provide information that can help you understand your water and sewage costs. Local councils can provide information on local water efficiency initiatives and programs in your area such as the Brisbane City Council’s advice on Smart Water Actions.
  • Install a sub-meter which enables an improved water usage analysis and breakdown of water use across the school. It also quickly identifies where leaks or excess consumption may be occurring.

Upgrade water appliances and fittings

Capture and store rainwater on site

Actions that store water increase the resilience of your schools water system to extreme weather events. The CCIQ ecoBiz program Hot Topics—Water considers rainwater and greywater options. Tips include:

  • Increase water absorption into the ground by using permeable paving or matting in place of sealed surfaces such as concrete or bitumen.
  • Rainwater tanks can be kept above or under the ground and there is a wide range of tank types and sizes available.
  • Rainwater storage that is collected from roof areas and gravity fed to gardens reduces emissions, demand on municipal potable water (tap water) supply and your school’s energy use.
  • Rainwater tank water should only be used for drinking, personal hygiene and food preparation where there is no access to reticulated (or town) water.

Use greywater

  • Greywater pipes can be directed to irrigate trees and shrubs. Please check with your local council regarding greywater use guidelines.

Landscape with native plants and perennial grasses

  • Use local native plants as they are adapted to the local climate and generally require less water.
  • They are often deeply rooted which helps them to extract water from a greater depth and assists in holding water in the ground. Find out more about the Queensland Government’s information about plants and native plants.

Case study

Bundaberg Christian College harvests its own water and power

With more than 30 classrooms, a multipurpose hall, and a commercial kitchen, Bundaberg Christian College is a leader in water and energy efficiency.

The school’s water supply is harvested off the college’s expansive roofs and stored in tanks.

Water is then processed to be used as drinking water and any surplus water is used for maintaining the school grounds.

Co-existing with the college’s rooftop water harvesting system is the school’s solar system.

In 2016 the college achieved a first of its kind by commissioning Australia’s largest hybrid solar installation.

The school engaged GEM Energy and Selectronic to create the system, which features 740 solar panels in a 194 kilowatt solar system and is paired with 250 kilowatt hours of battery storage.

Since then, the school has reaped the following benefits:

  • estimated annual savings of $100,000 in energy costs
  • the production of about 300 renewable energy certificates per annum that can be sold for about $20,000 on the renewable energy market
  • reduced dependence on the electricity grid by up to 80%
  • substantially reduced carbon emissions
  • learning opportunities via tours, an online monitoring of the system, lessons to explain the interaction between solar panels and batteries, and related website, media and environmental studies.

Outlays for the system are expected to be recovered by 2023.

Other energy efficiency practices at the college include switching computers to standby each night, pre-setting timers to switch off staff room water heaters and water coolers after hours, replacing fluorescent lights with LED globes and installing wireless timers on classroom air-conditioning units to provide more efficient management of the cooling systems.

Photo: Bundaberg Christian College solar and water harvesting systems.

In this guide:

  1. Energy efficiency
  2. Water efficiency
  3. Waste reduction
  4. Transport efficiency
  5. Food gardens and local food production
  6. Resilient schools and communities
  7. Climate ready schools checklist

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