AUD 500 million to improve air-conditioning in New South Wales’ schools
The New South Wales Government has announced its intention to invest AUD$500 million to improve air conditioning in more than 1,000 schools across the Australian state over the next five years. All classrooms and libraries in new and upgraded schools will be air-conditioned.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian emphasised that parents and school communities supported the program, and noted that “this funding will ensure thousands of classrooms that previously did not have air conditioning will now receive it” 1.
The announcement comes a few months after the government was criticised for its decision not to install air-conditioning in four new schools being built in the Sydney area. Designs for the new or refurbished schools were said to include “sustainable and cost effective approaches to improving thermal comfort ... via passive measures such as insulation, sunscreens, ventilation and appropriately designed landscaping”, according to a spokesperson from the NSW Department of Education. The four schools have mean maximum temperatures in summer which are below the Department’s threshold of 33°C, at which point schools are eligible for air-conditioning. The school community worries that the new buildings, which are intended for use over the next 20 to 25 years, will not stand up to rising temperatures 2.
A 2017 study from the Australian National University warns that temperatures in Melbourne and Sydney could reach 50°C in the next two decades if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise 3. According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, 2017 was the warmest year on record for New South Wales 4.