Promoting efficient energy use in schools that consequently reduces greenhouse gas emissions is the purpose of a residential Energy Efficiency in Schools (EEIS) program reported on in this paper. Research on this program aligns with one of the “key overarching sustainability issues”, set out in the Learning for Sustainability: NSW Environmental Education Plan 2002-2005: “Sustaining energy use, cutting greenhouse gases”. The EEIS program was sponsored by Queensland EPA, Ergon Energy and Education Queensland. Participants learnt about innovation, leadership, coal mining, greenhouse issues, the “greenhouse challenge”, conducting energy audits, alternative energy and promoting energy efficient practices in school and the community.
Three EEIS models in Queensland that supported change in energy usage behaviours of participants (school students, parents and staff) is examined. In each of the models, interviews were conducted and questionnaires were completed with participants. In Model 1 it was found that, overall; the EEIS program did develop positive energy efficient behaviours in those who participated. In relation to whole school effects, mixed results were obtained. In Model 1 a rural school initially reduced energy consumption by fifty percent and in Model 2 significant changes in energy efficient behaviours in the school communities occurred. In Model 3 one school followed through an action plan and similar positive effects were observed. The development of an action plan that is implemented in the school, the selection of suitable participants, and post-program visits to schools by relevant staff were among the factors that contributed to the overall success. Each model was found to have achieved their aims to varying degrees but had outcomes that are likely to have both lifetime and possibly intergenerational effects.