Air-conditioning – every classroom in every state school
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 125 No 2, 20 March 2020, page no.11
The state government has committed to air-conditioning every classroom, library and staff room in every state school.
After last year’s announcement of fast-tracked investment to air-condition more than 300 schools in the hottest parts of Queensland, the Palaszczuk government has now expanded on the original commitment by promising to air-condition every classroom in every state school by June 2022.
Condensing an initial allocation spread over four years, the state government will now deliver the promised air-conditioning upgrade by mid-2022 through an investment of a $477 million package. The budgeted plan includes necessary electricity upgrades, infrastructure upgrades and an allocation for maintenance and replacement.
The QTU began a campaign for sustainable climate control in all state schools in 2017, and all those members who took part, not least by supplying data from regular climate control surveys, should be justifiably proud. The announcement by the state government that it is to deliver on this QTU ask is a welcome development and will ensure that students, teachers, school leaders and school support staff have better learning conditions and working conditions.
What has been promised?
The project will deliver air-conditioning to every classroom, every library and every staffroom for every state school in Queensland. All Queensland state schools, primary, secondary, P-10/P-12 and special, which are not already fully air-conditioned will be included in the program. A list of all the schools to benefit from the new investment is available on the DoE website at https://qed.qld.gov.au/programs-initiatives/det/building-education/major-projects-and-initiatives/air-conditioning
Definition of a classroom
Each school has a facilities master plan that designates the purpose of each space in the school. Any space designated as a classroom on the school plan will be included in the air-conditioning program. Some flexibility may be required because of local decisions around use of specific spaces.
Kitchens, laboratories and workshops are classrooms and will be included. Other student spaces, such as halls, are not included at this time.
In the case of ITD workshops, the department have provided the following explanation for specific treatment of the cooling needs of these spaces: “A number of technical and workshop spaces in secondary schools may require different solutions. The presence of dust and the use of heavy specialist equipment may require different cooling approaches to meet the safety requirements and optimise the use of these spaces. For example, a number of workshop spaces (e.g. welding bays) are required to be open to the outside air for safety and ventilation purposes. We will work with individual schools to identify the best local solutions”.
Repairs and maintenance
The program announced includes new funding to maintain and replace (as required) all air-conditioning units in state schools. This relieves schools of this responsibility and cost. It also includes a new provision for the maintenance and replacement of all existing air-conditioning units as required to keep them in a serviceable condition. Schools have previously had to budget for this where P&Cs and community fundraising have paid for the air-conditioning to be installed.
The air-conditioning program is being completed at the same time as the Advancing Clean Energy Schools (ACES) program, commenced two years ago. The new program announcement will expand the total number of solar panels from 110,000 to 190,000. The renewable energy generated is intended to sustainably offset the cost of running the air-conditioning in schools.