Canberra's next generation of schools will be carbon neutral under the ACT government's ambitious climate change strategy.
As students gear up for another climate strike this week, Education Minister Yvette Berry has revealed that the new line of electric-only schools which began with Margaret Hendry in February would continue with its next campus - opening in 2021 in the Molonglo Valley.
Emissions from Canberra public schools fell by more than eight per cent in the 2017-18 financial year, according to the latest available data - well ahead of the education directorate's target of three per cent. The ACT government is now closing in on its target of sourcing 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2020, ahead of plans to achieve net zero emissions by 2045.
Ms Berry said public schools set a strong example in sustainability for developers and students alike.
All public schools now have solar panels, some even generate income. Students plant trees and run smart waste programs to scale down their carbon footprints.
But some schools are still saddled with ageing and inefficient heating infrastructure.
Over the next four years, $15.9 million will be spent upgrading heating in nine public schools - a move expected to save 621 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.
While both NSW and Victoria are rolling out large-scale air-conditioning programs in classrooms, experts have warned most jurisdictions are not taking the impact of rising temperatures on student learning and health seriously enough.
Only some parts of Canberra schools are air-conditioned but the government says all students have access to cooling in at least one priority area.
Last financial year, the government spent $3.39 million on cooling upgrades, including window glazing, thermal insulation and air conditioning, and a further $2 million has been allocated this year.
The new ACT school design brief for upcoming builds, including in the Molonglo Valley, draws on smart design, natural cooling and energy efficiency to keep schools comfortable. Campuses will be all-electric and so carbon neutral, according to the new climate strategy.
Construction on the Molonglo school will begin later this year, with its preschool to Year 6 wing set to open to 644 students in 2021, before it expands by another 600 in a 7-10 secondary school.
Joss Construction has been awarded the contract, though a government spokeswoman did not provide its cost value.
On Tuesday, Ms Berry said the ACT government was committed to doing the "heavy lifting" on climate change to reduce its impact on Canberra families.
She has also backed students looking to ditch school to march for climate action this week, saying the global strike movement is "learning in itself".