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Sustainability must be 'front and centre' of school infrastructure

17 June, 2009

Australia's leading green building organisation has called on the Australian Government to ensure sustainability is 'front and centre' of any spending on school infrastructure.

Chief Executive, Romilly Madew, has said that the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) is concerned that the federal government's sustainability requirements contained in the stimulus agreement are being ignored in the rush to get projects underway.

"We hope that the pressure on the states to approve 'shovel ready' projects isn't leading them to ignore their own legislation, sustainability guidelines and environmental standards," Madew said.

"We are also very keen to ensure that the Australian Government requires the states to report on whether sustainability measures included in the Treasurer's letter of 12 February 2009 are being incorporated into the projects being funded by the stimulus package."

Madew's comments come after one of Infrastructure Australia's board members, Peter Newman, suggested that school infrastructure projects were being pushed out too quickly, with new buildings and infrastructure based on standardised templates at the cost of sustainability and innovation.

In its $14.7 billion stimulus package for schools, the federal government committed that "any new [school] building will be designed to maximise energy efficiency including insulation, energy efficient solar hot water (where appropriate), energy efficient lighting, energy efficient glazing, energy efficient heating and cooling, and a water tank."

"We urge the Australian Government, through the Coordinator General, to work with the states to ensure sustainability measures are integral to their spending on schools, and that transparent reporting is mandatory," Madew says.

"We now have solid international research which confirms that green schools and universities can enhance student learning, create a better workplace for teachers and boost a school's competitiveness - not to mention reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. This is a one-off, $14.7 billion opportunity to invest in the future of our nation," Madew concludes.

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