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Ministry of Education.
Kaua e rangiruatia te hāpai o te hoe; e kore tō tātou waka e ū ki uta

Renewable energy: Principal and community support

Input from the community helped this school project to grow.

Duration: 04:35


Phillip Gurney (Principal, Trident High School): We have two teachers who have a passion for their particular subjects and David Dobbin who is the renewable energy man in the school, he has spent an enormous amount of time in putting into place a variety of different energy projects in the school. The most recent ones, he’s worked with some students who are doing an installation of photovoltaics on our Special Education Centre.

They were able to get these twelve panels. They put them on the roof, they’ve installed them, they’ve been monitored and checked all along the way by professionals so they’ve learnt to work with – in an authentic environment – with these electricians. David has inspired them, he’s opened the doors for these young men to actually discover something absolutely wonderful.

It has provided us with a lot of fun and energy in the staff. Dave comes in on a monthly basis and puts slides up on a powerpoint and shows us how much energy we’ve saved. Over this year, we’ve saved huge amounts of money just in becoming more energy aware. People switching off laptops, switching off computers, not using excess energy. We have our heat pumps on a special timer and this is all Dave’s innovation, so he’s worked incredibly hard to reduce that.

So the renewable energy project is something that could run out of budget very quickly because it is an enormously expensive thing, unless it is very carefully managed. And that’s where Dave has also been very good. He has kept a very tight budget, he knows that if he wants to go over budget and when he’s going to go over budget, he needs to get clearance, so money is an important aspect of it. What he does do though, is that he does tap into a variety of funds and funding sources.

Edwina O’Brien (Trustee, Eastern Bay of Plenty Trust): We have the opportunity to do funding that benefits energy related courses. The renewable energy project has been a fantastic opportunity in our education programme to have people like teacher, Dave Dobbin come in and show us what they are capable of. And we’ve been given the opportunity of giving a small amount of money. It’s not a lot compared to what we do fund to other clubs and organisations and to have that amount of money go forward and benefit the students and the community and to see what they do, is just absolutely fantastic.

Iain Charity(Engineer, Renewable Energy Ltd): I have a company called Renewable Energy Ltd, specialising in heating and renewable energy technologies like solar PV, solar hot water, and biomass heating. The parts had been well used but were still in service but had no real commercial value, so it seemed like a good fit to give them to the school.

Renewable technologies are growing in New Zealand. There are multiple issues around climate change and the need to save energy and not everybody is convinced, so it’s wonderful to see students, that it is their futures that are going to be affected, and it’s great to see them engaged in learning about these technologies. Hopefully that filters through in their adult lives with the decisions they make and the careers that they choose.

Phillip Gurney: The whole health and safety aspect, which ranges from just looking after the teacher, the student, and then the actual OSH requirements need to be very carefully managed, and in those lines working with Dave – bearing in mind that he’s only been in teaching for about three, three and a half, four years now. Prior to that he was working in industry, so he brought that industry keenness and expectation into the classroom, which has also generated a great deal of expertise and management for health and safety, so he’s very aware of that. We are up with the play on that. Dave and I are busy working on getting OSH in as a precursor to them coming in. To come in and have a walk around with us and actually give us some advice in the event that we need them, so we can say, “Alright, this is what you said we needed to do, this is what we’re going to do”, so we kind of get in there early before there is a problem.

So it’s really important from my perspective, that we keep in touch with Dave, as the lead, with the students, and I’ve spent time with them, working and seeing where they’re going and what they’re doing. Then making sure with our building manager that we keep our property in the safest possible position that it can be.

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