Lowanna solar finalist

Lowanna College is one step closer to installing solar panels and undertaking a major upgrade of its sustainability garden with the recent announcement the school is a finalist in the international Zayed Future Energy Prize.

If successful, the grant of about $130,000 will enable the school to purchase solar panels, which Lowanna sustainability representative Judith Stewart predicted would save the school about $2 million in energy over the lifetime of the panels, being about 25 years.

“If we can do that, then so can every other school in Australia, so … it’s a big opportunity to show how we can live more sustainably,” Ms Stewart said.

The funding would also allow an upgrade to the unique outdoor learning centre in the Newark Garden, where students could grow their own food from seed, and eventually cook the produce on an outdoor stove.

Ms Stewart said the grant would also allow the school to purchase a pallet maker, solar cookers and ovens and create a rocket stove which burns small twigs “which would normally be wasted”.

“This creates really good heat with fine wood,” Ms Stewart said.

“That’s the ultimate isn’t it; that a kid could have their own garden at home and then work out a recipe and cook it themselves, so I want them to be able to do that.”

The school has other hopes to install a bike shed so students can safely lock up their bikes at school.

Currently, the garden which sits adjacent to the Ollerton Avenue Bushland Reserve, has a systematic design, where students grow seedlings in a hot house, feed food scraps to the chickens, which help make the compost used for the vegetable garden.

There’s a butterfly garden to help feed native birds, an aquaponics system and water-saving wicking garden beds which aim to demonstrate to students how they could live sustainably in their own home or apartment.

The school also planted native foods such as mountain pepper, finger limes and Warrigal greens to promote awareness about Indigenous food culture.

Lowanna College is one of 16 finalists for the 2018 Zayed Future Energy Prize and will soon find out if a small group of students and school staff will fly to Abu Dhabi in January for the awards ceremony.