Ghilgai Steiner School is a small primary school in a natural bushland area in the outer Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne.

Like many schools, it has been trying to focus on sustainability on many levels. This included how to be gentle on their local and global environment as well as reduce their utility and energy costs so that more money is channelled into education rather than running costs.

As part of this strategy, they have recently installed a range of new solar and environmental products aimed at becoming as close to carbon and cost neutral on these bills.

Previously the school used electric heaters in classrooms and offices, with the main hall having an evaporative cooler for hot summer days. Compact Fluorescent lights had already replaced incandescent lights throughout the school and appliances were turned off at power points thereby reducing standby power to a minimum.

However electricity bills were running at around $4000 a month or almost $50,000 a year.

Taking advantage of some government grants and investing some of their own funds, Ghilgai have replaced the electric heaters with solar hydronic heating and installed 5.75kw of solar electric panels. Further solar electric panels and hydronic heating are about to be installed on the new community building.

The results to date are that the most recent electricity bills have been almost zero and while the gas bill is around $1000, this is only for the winter months for boosting the solar hydronic system, so will be almost zero for 6 months of the year. Once the rest of the solar is installed, it is expected that the school will make a small income or at worst break even on electricity.

Photos of the solar makeover at Ghilgai Steiner and our many other schools are available in our School Installation Gallery