More support for schools to reduce energy consumption and environmental impact

The Government is supporting schools to cut down their energy consumption and reduce environmental impacts, with a quarter of all schools having their lights replaced with LEDs, a sustainability contestable fund and a plan to improve the environmental sustainability of all schools in the future.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins and Green Party’s Energy Spokesperson Gareth Hughes made the announcement today at Epuni Primary School in Lower Hutt.

The initiative supports the commitment in the Confidence & Supply agreement between the Green Party and the Labour Party to support the transition to 100% renewable energy by 2035, including investigating ways to encourage the use of solar panels in schools.

“Tackling climate change is a key priority for this Government and it requires practical policies and action from all sectors including education,” Chris Hipkins said.

“Schools make up a significant part of the Government’s property portfolio and we are supporting schools to do their bit to reduce environmental impacts. 

We are accelerating the roll out of LED replacement lighting in about 550 schools around the country over the next three years.

“LED lights can cut schools’ energy usage on lighting by over 50%. The savings on power bills can be used to reinvest in other resources for teaching and learning.

“As of today, schools will be able to apply to a $5 million contestable fund for sustainability initiatives that reduce their environmental impact. This funding will support innovative energy projects in schools, for example installing solar panels, replacing inefficient heating systems and removing coal boilers to help speed up change.

“The Ministry of Education will run energy efficiency trials in 60 schools. It will also trial ways of reducing water use and carbon emissions to help develop an Environmental Action Plan. The Plan will set out the steps and actions to improve the environmental sustainability of all schools.

“This $16 million package is part of our broader programme of work to modernise all schools including making them sustainable and energy efficient by 2030,” Chris Hipkins said.

The Green Party’s Energy spokesperson Gareth Hughes said schools need support to reduce their carbon footprint, and that students themselves are calling for fast action on climate change.

“These young people are the future. We’re delighted to help in the creation of sustainable learning environments for them and for future generations.

“Something as simple as introducing LED lighting reduces schools’ overall energy use significantly, and eases the demands on our electricity system overall,” Gareth Hughes said.