St Christopher’s Catholic Primary Holsworthy has become the first primary school in Australia – and one of only two schools in NSW – to learn in an environmentally sustainable demountable classroom.

The Hivve education ecosystem is equipped with solar panels and monitoring software that allows students and teachers to measure the amount of solar power the building generates and uses, along with factors including air quality and temperature.

Federal Minister for Energy and the Environment Josh Frydenberg visited Year 6 students in their new classroom today to talk about the one-year pilot of the building.

Students being able to examine the data will make those units about sustainability and the environment more real.

– Tony Boyd

He noted the solar panels on the roof of the classroom currently produce enough energy to power it and two others. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has funded the project in partnership with Hivve, the company responsible for the classroom’s design and construction.

“This is a really interesting national trial,” Mr Frydenberg said. “We are watching really carefully to see what is happening at the school – what the temperature is in the room, how much power is being generated by the sun on any particular day.

“I hope you enjoy this new learning environment. It’s a wonderfully clean, light, fresh classroom. It’s a credit to your school for embracing this new technology.”

Principal Tony Boyd said the school was excited to use the building, which would provide opportunities for authentic learning in Science and was unlike a typical demountable classroom.

“This is such a good quality building,” he said. Where other demountables are fairly basic, this is a very comfortable classroom to be in.

“We are going to be able to use the monitoring of the energy use and air quality for students to reflect on during our Science unit on sustainability.

“The students being able to examine the data will make those units about sustainability and the environment more real because it will be their own environment they are looking at.”

An impromptu chat with the minister about the future careers the Year 6 students are considering uncovered many that were civic-minded including architecture, structural engineering and electric car design.

Mr Boyd said coding classes would also be introduced across the school in 2018. This will give students yet another opportunity to embrace technology in their learning.

Sydney Catholic Schools’ Head of Planning and Facilities Peter Clarke said the pilot would help to promote better energy management practices across the board.

“It is a springboard for us to revisit some of the principles we need to apply to ensure our student have a deeper understanding [of sustainability], that our teachers are supported in that, and that our environments suit the expectations of contemporary parenting,” he said.

St Christopher’s Year 6 students share what they like about the new classroom:

Madison Darby, 11:

“It’s really clean, nice and cool. It is powered by solar energy, and can also power two other classrooms at the same time.”

Antonio Dominici, 11:

“I like it because it is run by solar panels and it has air conditioning all the way through the class instead of just in one spot.”

Ellianna Englen, 10:

“I like how it can power another two classrooms as well. It’s nice.”

Michael Curran, 10:

“I like how the aircon spreads through the whole classroom and there are different ways the energy connects to the classroom.”

Joy Salama, 10:

“I like how the classroom is big and good for children to work in. You can move around the tables and it’s a good atmosphere to do work and have fun.”

Adrian Wilkins, 11:

“I like the design of it. It’s nice and large so we can spread the tables out, and we can move them. It’s very flexible in many ways.”


  • This article was first published on About Catholic Schools in January 2018