School kids get a smart library

The library at Mundubbera State School, regional Queensland, has been turned into a sustainable learning space thanks to Ergon Energy’s Community Fund.

The $5000 grant enabled the school to retrofit efficient lighting devices, including motion and lighting sensing technology, priority lighting circuits, and use natural airflow to keep the library cool without using air-conditioning.

The school was among 12 not-for-profit community groups across regional Queensland to share about $50,000 in total for projects that promote energy efficiency or electrical safety.

The school library previously cost the school about 90c an hour for power. By retrofitting the library with LED bulbs and installing motion sensors and lighting sensors, the school will save about $400 a year.

Students also have access to the school’s solar net site so they can see the overall benefit from improved efficiencies and usage protocols.

Ergon is now looking for the next round of grant applicants with a change to the criteria making more community projects eligible for funding this year. Any project that delivers a lasting benefit to the community will be eligible for a grant between $200 and $5000 with $50,000 in total to be shared.

Examples of the sort of projects that could attract funding include those that:

  • Reduce energy consumption, particularly at peak times, possibly by upgrading equipment to more energy efficient models.
  • Use or promote renewable energy alternatives (solar, wind, hydro and biomass).
  • Keep the community safe around electricity, potentially by a wiring safety check, upgrading the switchboard or installing new electrical wiring.
  • Educate and empower people to make informed energy choices and help them manage cost of living pressures.
  • Prepare the community for storm season, for example by preparing storm kits, upgrading first aid equipment or installing a generator with a change-over switch.
  • Provide some kind of lasting community benefit, such as educating children about sustainable gardening, providing emergency equipment or facility upgrades.
  • Help grow regional Queensland or create a more sustainable community.

Twelve community groups from Cairns to Mt Colliery near the New South Wales border received funding for a diverse range of projects through the Community Fund last year. Grants were awarded to schools and kindergartens, sporting groups, religious and charity organisations, girl guides, a CWA and a show society.