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A green phoenix rises from the ashes

The Tasmanian Government’s decision to achieve a Green Star rating for the new Dunalley Primary School demonstrates visionary leadership and a commitment to ‘build it back green’.

The new primary school will replace buildings lost during the January 2013 bushfires, and will be one of Australia’s most sustainable. 

Robin Mellon, Chief Operating Officer of the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA), says that Tasmania “well and truly leads the pack” when it comes to its commitment to green schools.

“We applaud the Tasmanian Government for its continued leadership in sustainability.  The Tasmanian Government’s decision to invest in a sustainable school for the Dunalley community will deliver dividends for many years to come – from lower energy and water consumption and reduced operating costs through to improved health and wellbeing of teachers and a more productive learning environment for students,” Mr Mellon says.

The Tasmanian Education Minister and Leader of the Tasmanian Greens, Nick McKim, says sustainable design and construction in Tasmanian schools is a ‘no-brainer’.

“It saves money that’s better spent on our students’ learning. It provides a great modern learning environment. And it contributes to young Tasmanians’ understanding of sustainability and its importance for humanity’s future,” Mr McKim says.

“Tasmania is transitioning towards an economy built on its natural strengths – including its clean and clever sustainable brand.

“Whether it’s building sustainability and energy efficiency into our schools, our public housing stock, or our government buildings, this Tasmanian Government is determined to keep reducing pollution, supporting sustainable jobs and industries, and reducing living costs for Tasmanians,” Mr McKim says. 

The new school will include four learning areas, an early learning centre, administration area, library, staff room, playground equipment and site landscaping. 

According to the Green Star Accredited Professional working on the project, John Harris from Pitt & Sherry, “the new facilities will provide an environment with well-considered classrooms, good indoor air quality and generous access to daylight. This will enhance student health and learning, improve teacher morale and have a positive effect on operational costs and the environment.”

In September, the GBCA released The future of Australian education: Sustainable places for learning, which outlines up-to-date international research and case studies which can help schools invest in better buildings and better learning outcomes.

Dunalley Primary School now joins two other Tasmanian Government schools, Jordan River Learning Federation Senior School and Port Sorrell Primary School, which are committed to achieve Green Star ratings.  Kingston High School achieved a 5 Green Star – Education Design v1 rating in April, while the University of Tasmania has two 5 Star Green Star ratings for education facilities – for the Marine & Antarctic Sciences and Medical Sciences 2 buildings and more projects registered.

“A school is more than just bricks and mortar – it is the heart of the community.  The way a school is built and operates, the way it engages the community, and the way it sits within its local environment all provide many learning opportunities.  If we get it right, our students will become a generation of ‘sustainability champions’ with the skills and drive to tackle our enormous environmental challenges,” Mr Mellon says.

“We congratulate the Tasmanian Government for investing in the long-term health, wellbeing, productivity and environmental literacy of their children, and encourage other state and territory governments to look to Tasmania’s example,” Mr Mellon concludes.