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Carey’s journey to Net Zero: a commitment to sustainability

Carey Baptist Grammar School is embarking on an exciting journey towards achieving Net Zero emissions. Following a thorough review of the 2022 Sustainability Baseline Report in February 2024, the Carey Board wholeheartedly endorsed the plan, reflecting a commitment to driving positive change and reducing its carbon footprint.

In collaboration with CERES Consulting, Carey developed the comprehensive Sustainability Baseline Report, which serves as a cornerstone for summarising environmental data and laying the groundwork for future improvements. The Baseline Report outlines key initiatives, including the development of a detailed Sustainability Plan aimed at achieving Net Zero emissions. This plan will outline specific actions to reduce emissions from energy, transport and waste, as well as strategies to conserve water, increase recycling and enhance biodiversity. Moreover, the plan will encompass sustainable operations, educational programs and community engagement, ensuring that sustainability is deeply ingrained in all aspects of Carey’s operations and culture.

The Sustainability Plan will serve as a roadmap for actions over the next three years, supported by quarterly monitoring and reporting starting from 2025. This robust monitoring process will ensure that Carey’s carbon emissions are regularly and consistently measured, enabling timely reporting on yearly targets and adjustments to be made as needed. Our commitment to achieving Net Zero underscores our dedication to sustainability and environmental stewardship. By setting ambitious goals and implementing comprehensive plans, Carey is paving the way for a more sustainable future.

Sustainability wins over the past 12 months

There was a significant effort last year to raise awareness of sustainability issues, and all across the school we are seeing evidence of our community taking their own initiatives to care for the environment. We are seeing students and staff making active choices to use ceramic mugs in place of disposable cups for their canteen coffee purchases, bring their own lunches in reusable containers and purchase school uniforms and other items from the Swap Shop rather than purchasing new items. We applaud their magnificent efforts and look forward to progress across all areas of our sustainability programs in the future.

Carey’s Sustainability Baseline Report lays the groundwork for future improvements. Image: Fiona Sexton

Camp Toonallook goes renewable

The installation of our new solar panels at our Outdoor Education campus in the Gippsland Lakes, Camp Toonallook, represents a major investment by the school, generously aided by our community, to offset all electricity usage at the site. The 62 PV solar panels with 25kW capacity installed on the roofline of the Toonallook boatshed and kayak storage shed will yield more electricity than we currently consume at the site each year. The batteries installed to store the excess power produced by the panels will also ensure that we have all the energy we need during periods when electricity generation by the solar panels is reduced by conditions of low sunlight.

A waste management overhaul

We have also rolled out a new waste management system. We have seen the deployment of food and garden organic waste bins in a number of areas across the Junior, Middle and Senior School campuses at Kew, and over the school holidays, we saw the construction of a central collection and storage site on campus. There are similar plans to update the waste management system at our Junior School Donvale campus in 2024.

Junior School students learn about food production and sustainability through the Kitchen Garden program. Image: Fiona Sexton

We are also pursuing a host of student-led initiatives to manage other aspects of our waste production, particularly landfill generated by unsaleable items at the Carey Swap Shop. The student Environment Group has made a major contribution to community education in this area through the deployment of signage, student presentations in assemblies and feedback to the School Leadership Team on the progress of the program.

Our Keep Carey Beautiful Brigade in Middle School is also doing a magnificent job of gathering up all the waste that finds its way into the grounds around the Middle School campus. Our ultimate goal, of course, is to minimise the production of all waste at the school and plans are underway to achieve this, including through the minimisation of our food packaging, paper consumption and the consumption of all forms of single-use items employed in running our teaching and learning programs.

Increasing biodiversity and access to fresh food

In addition to our already thriving Kitchen Garden program at both campuses, in 2024 we have planted and begun tending to a new orchard at our Kew campus. Planting more trees and cultivating our abundant land helps to increase the biodiversity on site by attracting beneficial insects like bees and contributing to the natural ecosystem created by increased plant life. This orchard will soon also be home to chickens, who will be cared for by our Junior School Kew students, contributing to their sense of responsibility for the land and the life on it.

Accountable sustainability

In 2023, Carey officially signed with the ResourceSmart Schools Program. ResourceSmart Schools is an award-winning Victorian Government initiative designed to help schools reduce resource use, make cost savings, integrate sustainability into the curriculum and share their learnings about the importance of sustainability beyond the school gate. The program also provides expert advice and tools to support schools on their journey to embed sustainability across all aspects of their operations and monitor their progress. In November 2023, students from our Environment Group and the Year 8 Changemakers class participated in a program to benchmark our current production of waste with an audit of the contents of our bins.

Carey students learn about biodiversity and feel a sense of responsibility for the environment. Image: Fiona Sexton

A culture of sustainability

Carey recognises that achieving Net Zero is not merely a goal but a continuous process that requires collective effort and collaboration from everyone involved. By fostering a sense of shared responsibility and inclusivity, Carey aims to create a culture of sustainability that permeates every aspect of our operations and interactions. This journey is not just about reducing carbon emissions; it is about instilling a mindset of environmental stewardship and respect for our planet’s finite resources.

We believe that through collaborative efforts and innovative solutions, we can make meaningful strides towards creating a more sustainable world for future generations. By embracing sustainability as a core value, Carey seeks to inspire others to do the same, creating a ripple effect that extends far beyond our own community. It is through this collective commitment and action that we believe we can achieve our sustainability goals and pave the way for a brighter, more sustainable future. 

Read more about Carey: Results shows Carey graduates are well-rounded high achievers

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