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Canberra school embraces renewables to reduce carbon footprint and cut costs

Equipped with solar panels, a worm farm and a kitchen garden, Canberra's Neville Bonner Primary School is looking to the earth and sky to reduce its carbon footprint and save money.

It is one of only a handful of schools in the ACT to have a 100-kilowatt solar power system installed, with almost 400 panels on its roof.

"73 per cent of the energy that we use is sourced through that," principal Fran Dawning said.

The school started with a 30-kilowatt system in 2013 and added a 70-kilowatt system this year.

The electricity generated is used for everyday needs including powering computers, digital whiteboards, air-conditioning and the school's kitchen.

As well as reducing their overall carbon footprint, Bonner Primary has generated $36,000 since November 2013 by feeding excess electricity back into the grid.

"That money is then used to continue our sustainability program. So for example we've used that money to fund our worm farm," sustainability coordinator Kerry Johnstone said.

While all ACT public schools have solar systems installed, Bonner is has gone above and beyond to reduce its overall energy use.

Ms Johnstone said there was still more work to be done.

"Eventually we will be able look a little bit more in terms of our consumption of electricity and how we can get that down," she said.

"We've certainly got timers and things in our classroom but we need to line them up more for when we're not inside.

"We're even talking about water usage as well and making sure that we're tapping into our tanks, definitely we're really focused."

Source: The Canberra Times

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