QLD Chapter Explores How Corinda State High School Achieved Carbon Neutral Accreditation.

Published: Thursday 12 August 2021

On the 25th of May when the lights went out in south east Queensland and 350,000 people were without power, LE Queensland members found themselves in an off-grid classroom at Corinda State High School (CSHS) - and the show went on without a hitch.

With the massive power outage in SE Queensland just before the start of our LE Queensland event, as we prepared to welcome the 42 LE guests (battling their way through traffic chaos in the power outage), CSHS Executive Principal Helen Jamieson calmly moved the start of the event to a modest classroom, that just happened to be off-grid. It was one of the school’s two Hivve modular classrooms, a next generation sustainable classroom solution that uses solar energy to power all their electrical systems, including air-conditioning. 

The setting was entirely appropriate for the event which showcased the school’s environmental sustainability success in becoming the first school in Queensland to achieve Carbon Neutral accreditation. It is also the only Climate Active certified secondary school in Australia (formerly known as the National Carbon Offset Standard – NCOS). The school’s journey towards these milestones started in 2008 for the growing school that now has over 2000 students.

Deputy Principal Innovation & Technology, Tom Bates, gave a comprehensive overview of a range of sustainability initiatives and the SmartFarming systems, with a focus on the data capture in all the systems and how the school is integrating the data and the sustainability experience as a rich STEM resource for the curriculum for all year levels.  Guest speaker was an inspirational former school captain, Dhruv Singh, who played an important role in his senior years, motivating and lobbying staff and students. He wrote to Politicians, contacted energy companies and helped devise a plan. The school then partnered with Pangolin Associates who assisted the school in devising a new plan, measuring emissions and offsets to achieve their goals.

After the presentations the school’s on-site agricultural farm became our outdoor learning space for the afternoon.  Seeing first-hand the wind turbine, solar-powered data collectors, monitoring stations, livestock and vegetable garden. The young heifers, alpacas and chickens are extremely well fed, with the farm a popular stop for students during their breaks.

Going to school in a carbon neutral school puts a responsibility on every member of the community to change their behaviour and to sustain the many small actions they need to do every day to achieve and maintain the carbon neutral rating. These include the foods and packaging sold in the tuckshop, how they commute to school. That can only be a positive influence on current and future generations.  

Full details of the “Are we there yet?’’ initiative can be found on the school’s website. Corinda State High School is also a stop on one of the tours during Beyond, the Brisbane conference in June.

Article written by Dr Janet Buchan, LE Queensland Chapter (Committee member)

Image supplied by Dr Janet Buchan, LE Queensland Chapter (Committee member)