BRISBANE’S Mt Maria College is earning top marks when it comes to producing clean energy and taking on the ecological challenges of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’.
It’s one of eight Brisbane Catholic Education pilot schools introducing a Living Laudato Si’ energy reduction and management plan and, in so doing, working towards big power savings and state-of-the-art clean energy solutions.
Mt Maria College’s new music and performing arts building is being used to trial ground-sourced heat exchange (GSHE) climate control – a form of heating, ventilating and air-conditioning that is twice as efficient as conventional air conditioning.
Compared to the savings in carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plant, the GSHE system will save the equivalent each year of more than 72,000km driven in a passenger car.
“Effectively this system uses the earth as a ‘radiator’ and a kind of ‘battery’,” BCE building officer and project consultant Rick Dalmau said.
“On this building, GSHE loops take hot refrigerant down 80m into the ground where it is cooled to 24 degrees using the earth as a radiator.
“As necessary, when it uses the heating cycle, heat is gained back from the ground.
“This type of ground-tempered heating and cooling is common in the Northern hemisphere and is becoming more popular in Australia.”
In addition, students at Mt Maria have an active college environmental committee – even looking to provide their own innovative solutions to the global issue of climate change.
Recently senior students James Orman and Alec Parkes travelled to New York to take part in the final of the Spellman High Voltage Clean Tech Competition – an international research and design challenge for 15-18-year-old pre-university students.
The Mt Maria pair presented a solution model for climate change that was placed fourth out of more than 600 entries.
“Mt Maria College is taking the challenges and guidelines of the Pope’s encyclical Laudato Si’ seriously and practically,” school business manager Tamara Crosby said.
“The college wants to evolve to taking a holistic (ecological) Laudato Si’-inspired approach to carbon emissions, bio and e-waste collection at the school and transport.
“This will be ongoing and take a conversion of heart.”
Mr Damau also complimented Mt Maria College for replacing bamboo growing in the school grounds with native plants, and gradually eliminating other exotic trees including slash pine and camphor laurel.
The college, close to the Kedron Brook catchment, has followed a landscape architect’s masterplan by planting native species donated by Save Our Waterways Now (SOWN).