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At a Dunedin City Council meeting this week, Enviroschools regional co-ordinator Robyn Zink presented an update on the programme and what it was doing in schools.
Ms Zink said Enviroschools was looking at supporting schools to transition into more sustainable practices and was working with the University of Otago physics department to develop plans for some schools to review their energy use.
Ministry of Education records showed 71 Otago and Southland schools still had active or usable coal boilers.
When asked what the alternatives to coal were, Ms Zink said it was dependent on the school, but heat pumps or woodchip boilers were options.
Seven southern schools received government funding in January to replace their coal boilers with cleaner biomass boilers, which used wood pellets, for heating.
Cr Lee Vandervis questioned whether it was worth moving away from coal, as it was cheaper than woodchips, the use of which would put a strain on already tight school budgets.
Cr Doug Hall further asked what the price difference was between woodchips and coal, and noted the change to renewable energy woodchip would mean investment in a new boiler.
Ms Zink said to her knowledge, schools using coal were spending more per pupil than schools using electricity and there was a good supply of woodchips in Dunedin.
The quality of coal was decreasing and it was costing schools more to maintain boilers.