Beyond Net Zero networking meeting Term 2 2024 – Mount Lilydale Mercy College

Mount Lilydale Mercy College hosted the Beyond Net Zero networking event on May 24th. This network is jointly facilitated by EASL and EEV. Attendees were greeted by a crisp Autumn morning, and beautiful foggy views of the Yarra Valley. The session started with informal introductions and chats between educators, school representatives and energy experts, and already an exchange of ideas on sustainability was underway.

Our first guest presenter, Iain Jennings, Managing Director of 1Circle, brought a wealth of experience, having worked with over 200 schools on net zero solutions. He offered a strategic lens focused on energy, with insights into the pathways to net zero, emphasising the importance of forward planning and strategy considering things like the life span of existing infrastructure and it’s replacement prior to the need to replace it.  Iain also highlighted the UN targets of 1 tonne of CO2 emissions per person in order to keep the global warming target at 1.5oC.  (Australia is currently at approx. 14 tonne) Schools often have approx. 1 tonne of emissions per student just from energy usage in the school and doesn’t account for other direct and indirect emissions (e.g. transport to and from school).

Aaron Gray from Yarra City Council and EAGA’s Business Renewables Buying Group, followed and outlined the benefits of group power purchasing agreements for renewable energy procurement on the pathway to net zero, The discussions around schools as future energy hubs and creating microgrids that could serve their communities was an exciting sustainable future to think about.

The next presenter, Tom Meek from Yarra Ranges Council, talked about his former role managing waste at Zoo’s Victoria. Tom lead a discussion around practical approaches to waste management, highlighting the success of Zoo’s Victoria has had with compostable packaging and signage. The conversation delved into the nuances of recycling and the importance of clear communication with waste providers to ensure the integrity of recycling streams.

After a delicious morning tea the sustainability champion for MLMC, Andrew Feher, took the group on a tour of the college grounds. Guests were met with stunning views, and Andrew’s wealth of knowledge about how the school had successfully implemented sustainability initiatives over the years. Their regeneration work next to their nearby sporting ovals with a 3-5 year plan to turn the area into a wetland was inspiring. Even areas of new planting held secrets of sustainability. Beneath newly planted indigenous trees lay the cardboard packaging from 280 laptops—prompting discussions on waste reduction and reuse. The college, soon to become a five-star ResourceSmart School, truly left attendees buzzing with ideas.

Networking continued through lunch and into the end of the session. Participants left with ideas galore, new connections, and a feeling of inspiration to implement new strategies in their own schools.

Keep an eye on our Humanitix and Event pages to see when our next event is held.

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