At today’s ‘Schools as a Catchment’ Kit launch at Deer Park North Primary School (DPNPS) in the West of Melbourne, Josh Byrne & Associates (JBA) is working with our partners to demonstrate the value that educational institutions can play in better water management and sustainable urban landscaping. Supported by funding from the Victorian Government and delivered by Environmental Education Victoria (EEV), JBA, and the 202020 Vision, the project is showcasing integrated water management and urban greening via an on-ground demonstration project and the subsequent ‘School as a Catchment’ Resource Kit.

At the commencement of the DPNPS ‘Schools as a Catchment’ project JBA developed an Integrated Water System Report to define a holistic and integrated approach to the management of water on the school site. As well as helping to rejuvenate key areas on the school campus it is designed for use by other schools as a methodology for implementing integrated water management outcomes.

Through this whole-of-water-cycle approach, JBA identified unused areas of concrete and asphalt that could be transformed into interactive and engaging learning spaces for the students, staff and local community. The team then delivered concept designs and coordinated the implementation of five distinctive regenerative landscape spaces within DPNPS, which demonstrate strategies for shading, local food production, enhanced biodiversity, reduced stormwater runoff and leading practice water efficiency measures.

A wealth of research has demonstrated the benefits of urban greening, which include water and air quality improvements, as well as social attributes such as improved aesthetics, mental wellbeing and physical health. Likewise there are a number of strong arguments for improved workplace and community productivity.

Water and vegetation can help reduce the urban heat island effect, which is where hard surfaces such as buildings, roads and concrete absorb heat causing them to be warmer than surrounding vegetated areas. Deer Park North Primary School is located within the City of Brimbank where research has shown there is a low percentage of tree canopy coverage and a high percentage of bare ground.

At today’s launch JBA Director and 202020 Vision Advocate Josh Byrne let everyone know how this project represents a school and local community based effort to address these issues.

The school’s enthusiasm to this project has been electric. As a design team, the opportunities to transform the grounds into something special were clear from the outset. The fact that everyone was so keen to see it happen has been fantastic. The leadership shown by the school has been inspiring.”

The Integrated Water System report and concept designs now form part of a unique Resource Kit for schools that aims to inspire other schools to develop their own integrated water management plan as part of a water sensitive approach to urban greening.