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St. Pius X High School

Sustainability Initiatives

 

Sustainability Steering Team

The Sustainability Steering Team (SST) is a group of staff and students who meet regularly to oversee and guide the school's efforts to become a sustainable school community.  The team's vision statement is as follows: ‘As stewards of God’s creation, St Pius X High School is committed to inspiring change within the community, to undertake the journey of ecological sustainability for a better tomorrow.’ The team provides an excellent opportunity for students to exercise their civic and leadership skills for the benefit of the whole school community.  The team works in conjunction with Catholic Earthcare Australia through their ASSISI program.  The team is currently engaged in developing a Sustainability Strategic Plan for St Pius for the next three years.

 

ClimateCam

This is an excellent program that assists the school greatly in our efforts to achieve sustainability.  ClimateCam is a student-based group that is dedicated to improving the environmental sustainability of St Pius X High School.  Students are guided and supported by the Newcastle City Council and will work with a variety of groups within the school community to ensure St Pius X develops a more ecologically friendly footprint.  Our main focus within this program is water and energy consumption and conservation and waste management but in time, we hope to make St Pius X a model of an environmentally sustainable school that has a minimal effect on our Earth's resources and one that encourages and inspires others to adopt similar practices.

 

Sustainable Use of Water

To assist with our goal to become a more sustainable school we would like to promote the sustainable use of water as a natural resource. We are also committed to reducing the ecological footprint of our school. With the use of an existing swamp area, we are designing and implementing a water program with a focus on stormwater runoff. We would like to acknowledge our partner- Hunter Water- for making this possible. For more information on this initiative please contact: amanda.mohr@mn.catholic.edu.au.
 
For information on what you can do to save water go to: http://www.hunterwater.com.au/Save-Water/.
 

 Hunter Water.jpg

 

Sustainable Use of Energy 

During 2011 St Pius installed a solar panel array on the Staff Room Block roof.  The solar system cost $50,000 which was funded by the National Solar Schools Program grant from the federal government.  By producing its own power, our solar system will enable us to use less electricity from the grid.  Our system will produce an average 14 MW of power per year for the next 25 years.  A section of staff room roof has been covered by 52 panels, each of them being rated at 185 Watts.  This adds up to a total output of 9620 Watts (9.62kW system).  Our inverter changes the electricity produced by the panels, which is in Direct Current (DC), into the Alternating Current (AC) that we receive in our power points.  During holidays, if we produce more power than we use, we will receive credits on our power bill.

A Web box monitoring system collects data from the solar panels and from the electricity supply grid and enables us to track our power production and usage live on our school computer network.  This will allow teachers and students to become more aware of the significance of renewable energy solutions.  This is another step down the road towards environmental sustainability here at St Pius.

The Sunny Portal is a web portal that provides a host of information on our system, our energy use & savings, our carbon dioxide savings, etc.  Go have a look - I think you will like it.  It should be very useful in various aspects of the Science & HSIE courses but I am sure people will think of other classroom uses as well.
 
Our school's public pages are accessible at:
 
 
and also via a link on the left hand side of the homepage of our school website.  These pages contain a wealth of information.
 
Please go and have a good play around.
 
For Staff Only:  Note that any staff member who wishes can also have access to the full site.  This provides some extra data reports and the ability to configure the pages the way you might want them for use with a particular class.  Any staff member who would like access to the full site needs to contact an IT Officer via email and ask him to set you up as a user on the Sunny Portal site.  You will then receive an email from the site asking you to complete registration and giving you an initial password, which you can change after registration is complete - just go to User Information under the User Info tab on left hand side of page.
 
Once you are logged in you may like to change the English from US to English by moving the mouse to hover over the US-English tab at the top of the page & then selecting English from the drop down menu.  This puts all dates in our dd/mm/yyyy format.
 
Note that there is a link to the Sunny Portal on our school MNlive Portal.  This link takes you to the log in screen to the full Sunny Portal site.
 
If you have trouble logging on or if you notice any other problem using the site please contact an IT Officer for assistance.
 
If you wish to read the user’s manual for the whole system that is available from the Principal.
 
 

Action Over Threat of Massive Solar Storms

I have read over the last year or two and followed with considerable interest the concern in professional scientific circles over the state of readiness of our planet to avoid the possible consequences of massive solar storms that will affect Earth at some stage in the future. I wonder if there is anything being thought about or done at government level to plan strategies to deal with this eventuality.
 
Scientists are extremely confident that massive solar storms capable of taking out all electrical transformers & infrastructure will occur sooner or later. They occur on average about once every 100 to 150 years. The last storm of this sort of size occurred in 1921. The biggest one known about happened in 1859. If such a storm occurred today in our electronic & digital world the consequences would be disastrous. We simply don't have hundreds of power transformers sitting in storage facilities as spares nor the infrastructure to install them quickly. Millions of people could be without power for months or years.
 
Scientists do have suggested strategies. Governments could engage appropriate scientific & engineering expertise now rather than leave it until such an event takes place. Some other countries have taken or are taking steps to plan for such events. Pressure should also be put on governments to do something. They could even put pressure on countries capable of building & launching satellites to perhaps combine funds to build satellites that could be placed at the L1 Lagrange point (where the gravity of the Sun is balanced by the gravity of the Earth) to act as early warning devices. If we got warning early of an impending massive storm on the way we could theoretically take all power systems (or most of them) offline before the storm hits.
 
I have written to both NSW & the Federal Government asking what if anything is being done to prepare for this event. They will probably think me a mad Physicist - but then that's probably an accurate statement.
 
I encourage any other person who feels strongly about being prepared for what really is an impending event to write to the appropriate Government Ministers. We can all be called mad together.

Mr R. Emery

Principal