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Kindy kids go carbon neutral at Albert Park Kinder

18 November 2021

We’re celebrating 3 million rooftops in Australia that have installed small-scale solar PV! To mark this celebration, we’re sharing the stories of people and communities who choose solar.

With a passion for clean energy and a commitment to the next generation, Melbourne’s Albert Park Kinder has broken new ground as Australia’s first carbon neutral kindergarten, with small-scale solar playing a key part in helping to reduce their carbon footprint.

Beginning in 2016 with the installation of a 3.2 kilowatt system, and a further 3.2 kilowatt system added in 2018, Albert Park Kinder hasn’t looked back. They have also installed 4 solar batteries and a solar hot water system, allowing them to turn off their gas usage and dramatically reduce running costs.

For Jenny Whelan, head of administration at Albert Park Kinder, inspiration for the project came from a philosophy of caring for the local environment in line with Indigenous Australian teachings.

Children and early childhood education gardening

“The kindergarten has a vision to keep its promise to Bunjil (creator deity of the traditional custodians of the land) to care for the Bubups (children) and Country. By pursuing carbon neutrality, we are acting on this commitment and supporting the rights of all children to clean air, clean water, and a future where their love of nature and connection to the earth and each other is supported.”

Establishing Australia’s first certified carbon neutral early childhood service was no easy feat and the goal took 5 years to realise. However, Jenny is quick to credit the local community for their support and encouragement.

“We have a saying at Kinder ‘Have a dream - build a team’. So, the starting point for us was to establish our vision around caring for our world and each other and creating a team to make it happen. We partnered with the sustainability department at local Council whose support was key in guiding our actions and overcoming any barriers we encountered along the way.

Ariel shot of Albert Park Kinder with solar panels.

“We shared our goals with anyone who would listen and found many friends and partners along the way whose support was essential to the successful delivery of the project.”

And while adopting solar power has helped cut down on bills and running costs, the benefits for Jenny go well beyond just saving money to helping inform and educate the kids about clean energy.

“In addition to the benefits of reduced operational costs through energy savings, installing solar has been celebrated by our community where there is a real appetite to see the kindergarten strengthen its commitment to environmental responsibility.

“Sustainability is an increasing focus of curriculum in all education settings and being able to model this in practice at our facilities brings authenticity to this. The children inherently recognise the sun as something special and an essential source of energy for the planet and each other.”

“When we extend the children’s interest to consider how our rooftop can be a power station, we are really starting to dig deep in exploring how a star that we can see in the daytime is something quite magical indeed!”

Despite all their progress, the work hasn’t stopped there for Albert Park Kinder who have recently partnered with Albert Park Primary School and Albert Park College in a sustainable schools’ alliance to support them in all becoming carbon neutral.

As for any others considering installing solar panels and adopting clean energy practices Jenny’s advice is simple – just do it!

“There’s no better time than the present. The technology pays for itself and creates the opportunity for us all to be part of a bigger solution.”

Learn more about Albert Park Kinder and our 3 million rooftops with small-scale solar PV installed.

Children showcasing their worm farm at Albert Park Kinder.

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