Schools trial new sustainable heating system

Mt Maria College
Mt Maria College Stewardship Captain Teresa Rampa Dowling, Principal Glenn McConville, College Captain James Orman and BCE project consultant Rick Damau check out the college's energy reduction and management plan

MT Maria College, Mitchelton, has earned top marks when it comes to producing clean energy and taking on the ecological challenges of Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato Si'.

One of eight Brisbane Catholic Education (BCE) pilot schools who introduced a Living Laudato Si' energy reduction and management plan, the college was working towards big power savings and state-of-the-art clean energy solutions.

The college's new music and performing arts building was trilling ground-sourced heat exchange (GSHE) climate control – a form of heating, ventilating and air-conditioning that was twice as efficient as conventional air conditioning.

Compared to the savings in carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plant, the GSHE system will save the equivalent each year of more than 72,000km driven in a passenger car.

“Effectively this system uses the earth as a 'radiator' and a kind of 'battery'," BCE building officer and project consultant Rick Dalmau said.

“On this building, GSHE loops take hot refrigerant down 80m into the ground where it is cooled to 24 degrees using the earth as a radiator.

“As necessary, when it uses the heating cycle, heat is gained back from the ground.

“This type of ground-tempered heating and cooling is common in the Northern hemisphere and is becoming more popular in Australia."

In addition, students at Mt Maria have an active college environmental committee – even looking to provide their own innovative solutions to the global issue of climate change.

“Mt Maria College is taking the challenges and guidelines of the Pope's encyclical Laudato Si' seriously and practically," school business manager Tamara Crosby said.

“The college wants to evolve to taking a holistic (ecological) Laudato Si'-inspired approach to carbon emissions, bio and e-waste collection at the school and transport.

“This will be ongoing and take a conversion of heart."

Mr Damau also complimented the college for replacing bamboo growing in the school grounds with native plants, and gradually eliminating other exotic trees including slash pine and camphor laurel.

The college, close to the Kedron Brook catchment, has followed a landscape architect's master plan through planting native species donated by ecological group Save Our Waterways Now.​

Top stories