A primary school, especially one that is built through a process of rich community interaction, has more than usual chance of influencing the aspirations and lifestyles of people, far beyond the physical green credentials of the building itself.
Bentleigh Secondary College in Melbourne can claim not just education for sustainability, but sustainable education. Or vice versa. How many organisations, how many schools can actually claim to have a Head of Sustainable Practices?
As usual, the lightly editorialised press releases give far too little useful or testable information to the reader hoping to learn from the example. This is a chronic problem of the architectural media, especially of the specialised trade news aggregators, and even with specialised sources such as econews.
I had been hopeful that in this case, it might be easier to drill down to substantive information, because of the school's systematic approach to integration of sustainability initiatives into its curriculum and public profile. Indeed, googling the name of school does lead to some better quality information, such as on their water management in an article on the Victorian government sponsored Sustainability Hub. But surprisingly, the school's own website links to a single newsy page, with hardly any more detail about its admirable programs and achievements in the area of sustainability. For instance, I found it frustrating that given a clue to the live monitoring of energy use and water budgeting, the Web delivered data turned out to be accessible only behind the school's firewall. Equally, it is truly hard work to extract even scant detail of the various technologies employed, much the less insight into their true performance. The architects' website is worse, it contains literally no mention of anything to do with sustainability in relation to the project.
Once again, we are left with the impression that the mission of various awards in sustainability is primarily about giving an upbeat impression of progress, but that all participants, even probably worthy recipients of awards, are extremely guarded about delivered outcomes. This need not be so. It is very likely that Bentleigh Secondary College has nothing to hide and a lot to be proud of. I wonder why it doesn't appear to have occurred to them that they could extend their educational mission to the architectural community at large?
I live in hope. In the meantime, congratulations to the school, and to Suters Architects, who have contributed their services pro bono to this worthy project.