This policy sets out schools’ responsibilities to reduce their environmental impact and apply environmentally-sustainable design principles when planning new facilities.


  • Schools should consider environmentally sustainable design principles when planning, designing and constructing school-funded facilities.
  • Schools should reduce the environmental impact of their operations by taking action to reduce their net energy and water consumption and material waste production.
  • The Department encourages schools to install renewable energy systems.
  • Renewable energy systems must be purchased up-front, and schools must comply with the School-funded Capital Projects Policy if they wish to install a renewable energy system exceeding $50,000 in value (including GST).
  • The Renewable Energy Guidelines set out the installation requirements for renewable energy systems in schools.
  • This policy falls within all stages of the School Asset Lifecycle – Plan, Build, Manage and Dispose.
  • For advice on planning a renewable energy project, schools should contact the Victorian School Building Authority (VSBA) at


Sustainable facilities can reduce the environmental impact and long-term operating costs of running a school, and help to reduce Victoria’s net greenhouse gas emissions.

Facilities design

When constructing new and upgraded school-funded facilities, schools should apply environmentally-sustainable design principles when planning or designing. The Building Quality Standards Handbook (PDF)External Link includes a range of environmentally sustainable design specifications which schools must comply with. The VSBA can assist schools with understanding these requirements.

The Department encourages schools to consider additional environmentally sustainable design initiatives on an individual project basis. This may include certification to environmental rating systems such as the Green Building Council of Australia’s Green StarExternal Link rating tool.

Facilities management

As part of the Department’s responsibility to reduce environmental impact, the Department encourages schools to:

  • regularly check their utility bills to ensure water or energy wastage is not occurring and that waste collection agreements reflect the amount of waste being collected
  • raise awareness amongst school leaders, teachers, students and the community about sustainable design and operation of buildings
  • employ sustainable principles in purchasing goods and services and consider environmental impact when assessing value for money
  • take a whole-of-life approach to assessing the environmental impacts of goods and services and encourage suppliers to meet high standards of environmental performance.
  • reduce their energy and water consumption by initiating energy audits and commissioning energy efficiency upgrades
  • participate in the Victorian Government‘s Schools Water Efficiency Program (refer to the Resources tab for more information)
  • participate in the ResourceSmart Schools initiative (refer to the Resources tab for more information)
  • install renewable energy systems such as solar panels and wind turbines (refer to the Renewable Energy Guidelines in the Guidance tab for more information)
  • recover energy and water costs incurred by community users of school facilities through joint-use and hire agreements.

Resources to help schools implement these actions are available under sustainable facilities Resources tab.

Many schools participate in the ResourceSmart SchoolsExternal Link initiative to reduce their environmental impact. Schools are also encouraged to achieve the following ResourceSmart Schools guidelines benchmarks for utility usage per student.

Maximum usage level per student per year

Mains water

Primary or secondary school = 4 kilolitres

Energy (electricity kilowatt-hours (kWh) and gas gigajoules (Gj))

Primary school = 250 kWh, 0.4 tonnes CO₂, and 0.9 Gj
Secondary school = 400 kWh, 0.6 tonnes CO₂, and 1.4 Gj


Primary or secondary school = 0.3 m³

Renewable energy

Schools are permitted to install solar and wind energy systems. The Department encourages schools to install renewable energy systems where appropriate, in accordance with the Renewable Energy Guidelines.

Schools must comply with the Department’s School-funded Capital Projects Policy when planning a renewable energy project. For advice on planning a renewable energy project, schools should contact the VSBA at

Installation requirements

Before installing a wind energy system, schools must check with their local council to see:

  • if they need a building permit
  • that the proposed system complies with relevant planning scheme requirements.

Schools must ensure solar and wind energy systems must be are installed to the appropriate standard:

Schools must check relevant buildings for warranties or defect liability periods before installing renewable energy at the proposed locations.

Purchasing and facilities management

Schools must be able to purchase the renewable energy system upfront. Schools cannot enter hire purchase, lease, lease as a payment plan, loan agreements or power purchase agreements. This includes a solar licence agreement between a school council and a third party who installs the equipment at the school site.

The system must be appropriately insured as per the Insurance for Schools Policy.

Schools must notify the Department for the renewable energy system to be added to the School Asset Management System plan.

Maintenance of the solar power system must be conducted by a CEC accredited installer to ensure compliance and safety standards are met.

Relevant legislation

Department policy on reducing environmental impact in schools and applying environmentally-sustainable design principles when planning new facilities

Reviewed 29 April 2024

Policy last updated

29 April 2024


  • Schools


Victorian School Building Authority

Was this page helpful?