Steps towards sustainability

As one of the largest organisations in the region, the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle is in a unique position to lead by example.

No matter where you sit on the issue of climate change, one thing that is hard to argue with is the importance of care for the environment.

Accordingly, the Diocese continues to demonstrate tangible commitment to sustainability practices.

Its newest school, Catherine McAuley Catholic College in Medowie, is also one of the first schools in NSW to be powered by 100% accredited GreenPower. The college has also been designed to include advanced technologies, high-grade finishes, and environmentally conscious design elements, contributing to ongoing energy and cost efficiencies.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Diocese, Sean Scanlon, explained the transition to renewable electricity at the school reduces its carbon footprint and aligns with Pope Francis’s Laudato si’ message.

“We looked very closely at the financial implications of green energy, as this is a key part of our sustainability journey," he said.

"Ultimately, the Diocese was comfortable to proceed due to the reduction in carbon emissions that would result (approx. 400 tonnes over 12 months) and the strong message it sends to the parents and students of the College regarding its commitment to sustainable resources.

The Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle viewed developing a purpose-built college as an opportunity to create ecologically sustainable development outcomes, which links the site’s natural environment to students’ education.

Catherine McAuley Catholic College is located on a greenfield site, selected due to its proximity to large-lot housing sub-divisions that are home to many young families requiring access to education facilities. College buildings are situated on previously cleared sections of the site, leaving a buffer to the ecologically significant portions of land, while also providing the bushfire asset protection zones (APZ).

Mr Scanlon said the College has been designed to inspire future generations to be stewards of the environment.

“The site layout ensures clear sightlines from the buildings to the surrounding environment, with a vision to engage learners and educators in the local ecosystem.”

The College’s surrounds include a koala habitat, wetlands, and endangered ecological communities.

The Port Stephens community has enthusiastically embraced Catherine McAuley Catholic College. 

Their support is reflected in student enrolments at the College, which reached capacity months before its doors opened in January 2021. It’s a trend that has been mirrored in 2021, with enrolments for 2022 already at capacity for Years 7 & 8, and Year 9 only accepting a further 30 students.

In fact, the College has received expressions of interest for enrolments up to 2029. The Diocese has responded to the strong community support for
the development by fast-tracking the subsequent development stages.

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Lizzie Watkin

Lizzie is Team Leader Content for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

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