Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some of our frequently asked questions. If you have a question that you don’t see here, please get in touch!
What do I get for my investment in the program?
The aim of this program is to reduce emissions from schools and associated costs – thus saving you money to put towards other things at your school.
Research that we conducted in 2014 found that many schools don’t pursue sustainability on a larger scale due to a lack of access to resources, expertise and experience. Put simply, most just don’t know where to start! Our program aims to solve these issues and provide a systematic, step by step process as well as the support and guidance schools need to make lasting sustainable change.
Signing up to the LCSP means you’ll have access to:
- All three online tools;
- An online community forum between participating schools across the nation to brainstorm, share ideas and seek advice about suppliers;
- Student lesson plans and resources to allow you to integrate our tools and your low carbon initiatives into the curriculum;
- Opportunities to interrogate data to see how your school compares to other schools around Australia;
- Quarterly meetups facilitated by the LCS Program team; and,
- Access to the SimplyCarbon experts for advice and guidance during your carbon reduction journey.
We are committed to ensuring that the outcomes of this project don’t just land on a shelf in the office – we want to help you navigate the difficult topics and implement some great lasting initiatives. We already have 15 schools that can’t wait to share what they have done and provide advice!
What are the program outcomes?
- A carbon footprint of your school, including energy, water and waste consumption and benchmarks set for carbon reduction;
- A snapshot of your building’s assets (i.e. energy and water consuming devices like fridges and number of toilets as well as number of bins) to better understand your school’s consumption of resources, which can be monitored and tracked year on year;
- A tailored Low Carbon Action Plan created using the App, which includes abundant ideas and tips for low carbon initiatives, as well as project management features (e.g. assign tasks, set reminders etc);
- The opportunity to embed/integrate sustainability across the curriculum specifically through this project (i.e. focused on using the online tools to better understand resource consumption, climate change and low carbon living);
- The opportunity to become part of a low carbon community with other schools in the program to share and discuss your initiatives with.
- As a social enterprise, SimplyCarbon gives back 50% of the profit it makes to help schools in remote Indigenous communities to implement low carbon initiatives to better prepare themselves for a low carbon future. Your participation is therefore contributing to a VERY positive outcome!
It costs too much, we can't afford it.
Yes, you can! The total investment is very small in comparison to what you can potentially save. At the moment you might not even realise what waste is occurring at your school! For example, at night your air-conditioner might be running when it doesn’t need to; toilets may be flushing unnecessarily; taps might be leaking; and fridges running when nearly empty or left on during the holidays. All of these things add up quickly, not to mention the even larger savings that can come from installing solar panels or replacing inefficient lights.
How much does your school spend a year on electricity? Just a 10% saving (not even the 20% we are aiming for) could look like this:
|Energy expenditure over a year||10% p/a savings over a year||20% p/a savings over a year|
As electricity costs and consumption in schools continues to rise, the cost of not acting will increase. Can your school afford not to participate?
If you’re unsure of how to pay for it, there are tons of options to raise funds for your school. Check out our blog post on Fundraising Tips or get in touch with us to learn more.
How much time will I need to devote to the program?
Put simply – you will get as much out of the program as you put in! If your teachers embrace and use the learning resources provided and integrate it into the curriculum, there shouldn’t be a whole lot of extra time needed by the school. Things to factor in though include the:
- Carbon Audit
- Time needed by the Business Manager to collect and collate a copy of bills (i.e. electricity, gas, water, waste, paper, buses and flight)
- Entering the data – it is encouraged that students do this through the lessons plans provided. Or if you prefer to have an adult do this, you should allocate at least 1 day. This only needs to be done once a year.
- Building Audit
- Entering the data – it is encouraged that students do this with the lessons plans provided. Or if you prefer to have an adult do this, you should allocate roughly 1 day of work. This only needs to be done once a year.
- Carbon Action Plan
- We encourage schools to enable their students to decide on the initiatives (after they have undertaken a detailed analysis – lessons plans included), as well as manage the implementation as part of their learning. This can empower students to see that they ARE actually making a difference!
- Action Plans should be updated monthly (time needed varies on number of initiatives your school is pursuing and who is involved in the process)
- Quarterly Meet-ups
- You should allocate 3 hours for these meet-ups (12 hours per year), which will be hosted by schools through a roster. We encourage at least two members of your committee to attend each quarterly meet-up.
Will there be an energy audit for my school?
An energy audit is a useful exercise that provides an analysis of how energy is used across your school. It involves looking at all energy consuming equipment and identifying the top reduction opportunities. There are various types of audits that provide different information and different levels of detail.
We help you to conduct your own basic energy audit, which identifies your energy consuming devices. The data collected from this will be enough to highlight a range of initiatives you can implement to reduce energy, which we do through the third tool. Your students may be able to calculate some high level payback periods through this data. However, if you need a more detailed/accurate audit, this process will most likely help to lower your costs of an external energy auditor. The cost for an energy audit will vary depending on the size of your school and the level of detail required.
There are amazing opportunities for your students to learn a range of skills from undertaking these audit, which can also be applied in the home and for work experience purposes. Curriculum resources will be available to maximise teaching opportunities from these audits. Tasks will include gathering and analysing data to understand where energy is used across your school and how changes/upgrades to infrastructure changes the carbon footprint.
Are discounts available for schools?
In our past pilots, local governments have been really supportive in helping schools with program fees since our program often ticks off on their own KPIs around sustainability, climate change and community engagement! They also often have their own sustainability grants! Worth looking into. We highly encourage you to approach your local government for help with funding your program fee and/or implementing your low carbon initiatives.
If you’re still stuck for upfront funds, there are many great fundraising options. Forget chocolate – Lifecykel, a funky organisation that recycles used coffee grounds to create your own homegrown mushrooms, is a wonderful sustainable way to fundraise money. Click here to download their flyer >>
What are the eligibility requirements?
All schools in Australia are eligible to apply. In order to be accepted into the program, you must commit to the following:
- Obtain school principal’s support
- Establish a school sustainability committee consisting of at least three people
- 1 Principal, deputy principal or registrar/business manager
- 1 Teacher
- 1 P&C member and/or student
- Commit to at least one person from the committee to attend each workshop
- Provide SimplyCarbon with access to relevant records and utility bills
- Commit to actively participate in the program and research and share learnings and other participants
Our school has already done heaps in this area, is it worth it? OR… Our school is really small and there isn’t much we can do, will we still benefit?
Every school is different – different buildings, varying student numbers, diverse locations, different boards, infrastructure, P&Cs committees, etc. This program is designed to share learning and connect schools of ALL types. We want your big/little school to show other big/little schools what is possible! You don’t have to do this alone. What one school has achieved can be celebrated and shared with other schools. We are not trying to compete – climate change is a global problem and we need to collaborate to succeed!
If you are ahead in the sustainability department, this is your chance to promote what you are doing and share your invaluable experience with others who may be just getting started. Never underestimate the value you can provide/contribute! We would also like to help you push the envelope in reducing carbon. Carbon neutral? What about carbon negative? How about a school that provides carbon free energy to the local neighbourhood? There is no finish line in this game…
It is important for our schools to establish baselines and benchmarks by which to compare not only your school’s carbon footprints over the years, but also with other similar schools across Australia. It’s not about competition – it’s about awareness. Are you consuming 25% more than the average school your size? Maybe you have a leak (or 7 like one school we know!). There’s only one way to discover these things – by understanding what your consumption should be! Imagine being able to log in to a website and being able to see the average consumption of other schools across Australia, that are similar to you! How insightful. And then eventually compare your school globally – how many litres of water per student per day does your school use compared to a similar sized school in Uganda?
This will be a powerful way to educate schools and students about resource consumption and encourage students to become globally aware and responsible citizens. This is a win-win-win for us, the planet and our future generations!
Aren’t there are too many regulations in the way for schools to get retrofits such as solar panels, lighting upgrades etc.?
If you’re a public school, there may be some things you need to consider, particularly around procurement. But nothing is insurmountable! Where Education Department strategies might sometimes seem onerous or inhibiting, bear in mind, they are often there to protect you – trust us, you do not want to spend $70,000 on solar panels that don’t meet Australian standards and get chucked in the dumpster (true story!). Nevertheless, if there are general obstacles or inefficiencies, we are also here to be a collective voice for you in any of our states. Together, we can make changes. If you’re a private school, you should really jump on board – you really have no excuse!
Having said that, we know there are some general barriers that exist for all schools, such as limited time, finances and general resources. In fact, we actually published a report on this. The good news is, some of the barriers are changing and the concept behind joining schools together is to create a larger voice to advocate for change. If you can see better ways of running your school, let’s lobby the right stakeholders together and help make those changes.
Grouping schools together also provides the opportunity to wholesale purchase some items, such as solar panels, at a reduced cost. Maybe you can convince your local network of schools to implement an initiative at the same time.
Some barriers may even be misnomers. You may have heard that installing solar is too difficult or you aren’t supposed to turn off air conditioners because of the computers. We love busting myths that aren’t true and removing those barriers that are standing in your way.
Won't it be easier to just get an energy/sustainability consultant to do all of this for us?
Sure! Most likely much more expensive too. But more importantly, your students miss out on all those valuable learning opportunities and experiences that will help prepare them from the inevitable low carbon future they will need to rapidly adapt to! Our mission is to enable, facilitate and empower. We are not providing you a fish for dinner, we’re teaching you to fish for yourselves.
Will the program be integrated into the curriculum?
Yes! We will provide tailored learning resources that enable your school to integrate your resource consumption, carbon emissions and climate change impacts into your curriculum using our online tools. They won’t be learning about abstract concepts. They’ll be using real-life data! Learning resources will be available from prep -12 and across almost all subjects! This is your chance to create a long term, truly cross-curricula sustainability project in your school.
What if we can't pay in this year's budget?
If you’re having trouble paying from this year’s budget, you could consider running a fundraiser (e.g. LifeCykel Mushrooms) or borrowing from P&C funds. It is also worth looking into your school has a building management fund for upgrades to your school as this program will help you identify key areas to optimise your school’s building performance – clear links!
However, as mentioned above, the cost of the program is actually pretty minimal considering the potential savings that can be made. Something that only you can quantify, is how much will it cost you to not participate in the program? Some things we have found in schools:
- A constantly running urinal? $7,000 a year.
- On the wrong electricity tariff? $10,000 -$45,000 a year.
- Gas leaks? Let’s not think about those costs OR more importantly, the GHG emissions! One school that found over twenty-seven leaks once they compared bills with their neighbouring schools!
It’s also worth considering that the trend in energy pricing has been going up with prices nearly doubling in the period between 2008 and 2014. Consumption in schools is also on the rise with schools installing more air-conditioning and high-tech wizardry such as interactive white boards.
At the moment you might be unaware of what your utility budget is actually being spent on. This program will help you understand how energy is used in your school, and how it can be saved. So the question really is, can my school afford to wait another year?
I’m a teacher. Can my involvement in the program count towards Professional Learning?
There will be many opportunities in the program for teachers to learn about sustainability, resource efficiency, carbon management and climate change, including how to teach all these things through integrated projects across topics and learning areas, that help your school to meet the national Sustainability Cross Curricula Priority. Whilst it is up to teachers to gather evidence to fulfil Professional Learning requirements, there will be ample opportunities for just that. We can provide your principal (or relevant individual) with the proof of attendance to allow you to gain credit for your participation.