School operations

Environmental Sustainability in Schools

Facilities and operations

Importantly, from 1 February 2023, schools must not provide any banned single-use plastic items as part of their school operations (for example, canteens, Outside School Hours Care, classroom resources, fundraising and other events), and will not be able to purchase any new banned single-use plastic items. This is a mandatory obligation for all schools in Victoria.

Environmental sustainability and climate goals can also be achieved through a focus on facilities and operations, including increased energy efficiency and water savings, behaviour change activities and activities that students can lead.

The Sustainable Facilities policy sets out schools’ responsibilities to reduce their environmental impact and apply environmentally-sustainable design principles when planning new facilities, including requirements for solar panel installation.

Refer to Case studies and Resources for additional guidance and resources.

In addition, schools may choose to undertake any or all of the following activities:

  • Join ResourceSmart SchoolsExternal Link to access systems and supports to reduce the environmental impact of school facilities and operations. For example, rather than making their own plan to reduce litter and waste going to landfill, schools can access resources and information from ResourceSmart Schools. The program provides a wide range of resources and support to assist schools in identifying and establishing waste-minimisation strategies. When developing waste-minimisation strategies that are to be implemented by families, remain cognisant that different families may have different resources available to them. For example, it may be difficult for low-income families to buy food in bulk and separate into containers as part of a nude food initiative. School-based waste minimisation actions include establishing compost bins and worm farms.
  • Sign up to the Victorian Government’s Schools Water Efficiency ProgramExternal Link to access guidance and support for tracking water consumption. Setting a target for water consumption is a great way to track progress and celebrate success. Schools are recommended to achieve the guideline benchmarks as set out in the Sustainable Facilities policy.
  • Identify and implement actions to reduce school energy use which produces greenhouse gases. Recommended actions for reducing energy usage are set out in the Sustainable Facilities policy. The ResourceSmart Schools program provides support and guidance to schools on identifying the most appropriate actions.
  • Install renewable energy systems, such as solar panels and wind turbines, in line with the guidelines provided in the Sustainable Facilities policy. Tracking energy use is an effective way to build business cases for solar power systems. Once installed, report to the school community on emissions and cost savings. From 2025, the government will facilitate all schools to derive 100% of their electricity from renewable sources, under the Whole of Victorian Government emissions reduction pledge – but this doesn’t mean your school can’t obtain significant benefits from installing their own solar (financial as well as resiliency/self-sufficiency in case of a power outage). The VSBA's Solar Power Systems Performance Specification (DOCX)External Link , outlines technical requirements and considerations for installers when planning and implementing solar at government schools. A number of application-based funding programs that support the Environmental Sustainability in Schools policy are available to schools via the VSBAExternal Link .
  • Buy recycled and environmentally friendly products. Considering the ‘whole of life’ environmental impact of goods and services when making purchasing decisions has a real impact on the amount of waste generated by a school. The supplier panels and state-contracts available to schools under department-managed procurement categories (including stationery, school cleaning, waste management) offer environmentally friendly product options. Schools should use Sustainable Victoria’s Buy Recycled DirectoryExternal Link where appropriate. Supply NationExternal Link lists over 4,000 Indigenous businesses that provide many applicable products and services.
Includes information on how environmental sustainability and climate goals can be achieved through a focus on facilities and operations

Reviewed 27 May 2024

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