OUR FUTURE | Energy efficient classrooms to beat the heat

As students across the country head back to school, they will re-adjust to their timetables and swap leisure time for mathematics and science homework. But unfortunately, many will return to classrooms with poor air-conditioning, unnatural ventilation and workspaces that are unsuited to the heatwave conditions that are becoming more prevalent in Australia.

As global temperatures rise, there’s an ever greater need for Australia to use innovative school design to create adaptive education environments.

If schools across the country incorporated energy efficient lighting and improved heating and cooling, it would not only help the environment, it would also benefit students as they would no longer struggling to concentrate in the heat. It’s an obvious win-win. One recent shining light of energy efficiency is Wangaratta High School. The school has a ground heat exchange system that manages heating and cooling needs, incorporating geothermal technology that uses the earth as both a heat source and heat sink.

The school has also designed programs for both staff and students to participate in the monitoring and improvement of the buildings environmental systems, encouraging children to develop an understanding of the world they live in.

The technology exists to create environmentally-friendly, cooler and cost-effective school buildings. With our current exam schedule clashing with the warmer months of the year, the need to implement this technology is ever greater.

Our children shouldn’t have to sweat it out in stuffy, poorly lit classrooms. As the school year begins, let’s think about making our classrooms a driving force behind sustainable education and living – and improving our children’s wellbeing and results into the bargain.

Romy Stephens is a Monash University science and journalism student.