The 320-student school was certified by Low Carbon Australia against the National Carbon Offset Standard after spending the last four years successfully following a sustainable living program.
South Fremantle Senior High School Principal Geri Hardy said students and staff had been working hard to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions since 2007.
“Sustainability is built into our curriculum and our school has taken an approach to teaching and learning which helps foster an understanding about environmental issues at a grass roots level. Our students have planted over 29,000 trees, last year’s planting was in bushfire ravaged Toodyay,” she said.
“We’ve been able to reduce our carbon emissions by 57.6 tonnes by undertaking over 20 different measures that will continue to help us operate more sustainably into the future.”
In a speech to students, staff and parents, Ms Gillard said she was delighted to make her third visit there to see the carbon neutral project come to fruition.
“Lots of adults have played a big part in this process and I want to honour each and every one of them,” she said. “But particularly, I want to honour the students for what you’ve done to make this possible.
“It wouldn’t have happened without you making big or small decisions together.
“So whether it was the time you remembered to flick a light switch or computer off, whether it’s the work you do in the garden, whether it was sharing ideas with teachers about what the school can do next, whether it’s your passion for absorbing the science and thinking not only about the future of your school but our planet - it wouldn’t have happened without you.
The Prime Minister also took some time to tour the school’s new trade training centre, where she planted a tree to commemorate her visit.
She was joined by Low Carbon Australia’s chairman Mike Rann and Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change Mark Dreyfus at the event, which included a screening of a short film made about the school’s carbon neutral journey.
After recalling her first visit to school in 2008 as it embarked on the carbon neutral project, Ms Gillard said she believed staff and students had set themselves a mammoth challenge.
She said the success of the project was a shining example to more than 9,000 other schools around the country that small changes could lead to big results.
“You’ve shown that you can have a vibrant, happy school whilst being a carbon neutral school. So here, you’re doing something that’s going to be a big part of our future.”
To reach carbon neutrality, energy efficient heaters were installed in all offices, flow restrictors were placed on all hot water taps in classrooms, toilets and kitchens and a real-time monitoring system was installed to track the use of electricity, gas and water.
The school appointed a dedicated Carbon Neutral Program Director to develop its program and two PhD students from Curtin University hprovided their expertise to help progress the school’s certification.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard and South Fremantle Senior High School principal Geri Hardy cut the celebratory cake.
Ms Gillard plants a commemorative tree outside the school’s trade training centre.
The Prime Minister presents students with certificates to mark their contribution the school’s carbon neutral achievement.