Buddy OHM Partnership - Sustainability at Pulteney

Buddy Ohm Partnership

We are excited to announce a new sustainability initiative at Pulteney which will not only help us to think carefully about how we use energy as a community but will also allow us to build some dynamic and innovative learning programs. The initiative is a partnership with local start-up company Buddy Ohm. Buddy has developed a system which allows real-time monitoring of a building’s energy consumption. This data is then presented to the community on screens in an easy to understand format as well as being available as raw data through an online portal. In the first instance, it is hoped that staff and students will recognise trends in our energy consumption and, by increasing awareness, we might start to change our behaviours. Utility bills represent around 25% of an organisation’s running costs and if savings can be made this means there will be extra money to use in other areas of the school. Buddy have already recorded significant savings for other businesses all around the world and it is hoped that we will experience the same immediate benefits.

The other tangible benefit that Buddy offer us as a school community is the ability to utilise the raw data, collected by the system, in our learning programs. Sustainability has become an important global priority. Temperatures are predicted to rise between 1 and 3 degrees Celsius by the end of the century and this seemingly small temperature change will have enormous repercussions for our planet (World Wildlife Fund, 2018).  So significant is this issue, it is listed as one of the three cross-curricular priorities for all Australian schools. As a direct result, schools are expected to highlight and teach sustainability across all subject areas. Often this is done in an ad hoc manner and is reliant on using data that lacks relevance and context for students.  By providing students access to real data relating to the energy use of their own community we can create an authentic curriculum around sustainability that enhances student agency and allows our school community to take measurable action to improve outcomes for our environment.

The power of engaging students in real world problem solving activities has been supported by rigorous educational research. The 2017 Horizon report (Freeman, Becker, & Cummins, 2017) highlights the importance of providing students with authentic learning experiences and provides links to many research articles supporting this contention. Authentic learning experiences are clearly shown to increase student engagement and promote a deeper understanding of concepts covered in learning programs. Buddy Ohm will enable students to examine the school’s power consumption in real time and see the direct result of changing practices and behaviour. Students will test their own hypotheses related to energy usage, design and promote systems to help preserve energy and compare and contrast different building types on the school grounds. Student initiatives will make a real difference to the liveability of our school community. Learning will have additional purpose and significance, empowering our students to make an authentic contribution to a sustainable future.

The other significant advantage of our collaboration with Buddy Ohm is that it will foster creative partnerships with other organisations both in the local community and further afield. Initially this will involve a partnership with Whitefish School Board in the United States. This school board is situated in Montana and has entered into a three-year contract with Buddy Ohm. Like Pulteney, the Whitefish School Board has a K-12 focus and is interested in developing meaningful, real-world curriculum. They have recently received recognition for establishing a Centre for Sustainability and Entrepreneurship and are striving to achieve zero net carbon targets through their partnership with Buddy Ohm and other related initiatives. We are looking forward to forging ahead with this partnership in the near future.

The other significant partnership under investigation is with Adelaide City Council. The council’s Carbon Neutral partnerships are open to any entity within the CBD committed to reducing carbon emissions. There is no cost to join this program, only a commitment to work towards a shared aspiration of Adelaide becoming the first carbon neutral city. Focus areas for action are energy efficient buildings, zero emission transport, renewable energy, waste reduction and water efficiency, carbon accounting and offsetting. Some of these targets are already being met by the school through our new buildings and initiatives that promote foot travel and public transport for excursions. Another important part of becoming carbon neutral is the school's capacity to record energy usage and demonstrate a clear reduction. Buddy Ohm will allow us to achieve this goal seamlessly.

Therefore, our collaboration with Buddy Ohm is set to open a world of new possibilities as we foster exciting new partnerships and develop dynamic real-world curriculum units. At this stage, the Buddy system has been installed in the Prep School and Science laboratories. It is hoped that that data collected from these buildings will eventually be compared with that being collected by the building management systems installed in the new Middle School and Centre for Senior Learning. We look forward to sharing our data and progress in working towards a more sustainable existence with the Pulteney community in the near future. If you have any questions or ideas for expanding this program even further, please feel free to contact us.

Greg Atterton 
Deputy Principal

Georgie Buenfeld
Learning Area Leader – Digital Technologies                    


Freeman, A., Becker, S. A., & Cummins, M. (2017, January 1). NMC/CoSN Horizon Report > 2017 K–12 Edition. Retrieved July 3, 2018, from https://cdn.nmc.org/media/2017-nmc-cosn-horizon-report-k12-EN.pdf

World Wildlife Fund. (2018). What is global warming. Retrieved from World Wildlife Fund: http://www.wwf.org.au/what-we-do/climate/what-is-global-warming#gs.7aDdPfw