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Biodiesel Training available soon in Victoria

Posted by admin on November 1st, 2010

We certainly are living through changing times. The world has finally accepted climate change and peak oil as serious issues that cannot be ignored any longer. Biodiesel is a plant based fuel which is an alternative to regular diesel. Whilst it is not a solution for the entire driving population, waste vegetable oil is capable of powering 10% of all road transport in Australia at a per litre production cost of only 30 cents. Many restaurants and other food outlets produce 40 litres of waste vegetable oil each week in drums that just get thrown in the dump master. It is certainly possible with some good communication skills, to make arrangements to collect these drums periodically for biodiesel production. One key element to remember is that whilst fuel has recently become cheaper, this is only a short term reality. Setting up a biodiesel plant at home is not only good for the environment, it will help you to protect yourself from rising fuel costs in the future.

Biodiesel is not hard to make, but it is very easy to make unnecessary mistakes and messes through improper training. Grown Fuel in conjunction with SolarGen are finalising the construction of a biodiesel training plant, just a short drive from Melbourne, which will provide comprehensive ‘all you need to know’ training in the successful implementation of biodiesel manufacturing.

The first training dates to be held are:

Saturday 7th February 2009
Saturday 21st February 2009

For all enquiries, please call SolarGen on 1300 676 527 or via email at sales@solargen.com.au

First Steps to a Safe Climate

Posted by admin on November 1st, 2010

Tuesday, 07 September 2010 15:48

On Friday, 3rd of September the Victorian Parliament ratified a new Climate Change Act. At the heart of the Act is a target for Victoria to reduce its emissions by 20% by 2020 (on 2000 levels). Now we all know that the science tells us that stronger  targets than this are going to be necessary to limit climate change, and we’ll continue to campaign for scientific targets. However last Friday Victoria’s greenhouse target was to reduce the state’s emissions by 60% by 2050.

That was an unlegislated target of the ALP Government. Now we have a stronger, nearer term, legislated target which has been supported by all parties in Parliament. It is also an unconditional target, which means that regardless of what happens nationally with emissions trading, Victoria’s target stands. That’s a significant step in the right direction, and a sign that our parliament is beginning to reflect community consensus on the need for climate action in Victoria.

Congratulations to the ALP Government for introducing the Bill, and the Greens and Coalition for supporting it. We were particularly pleased that the Coalition supported the Bill given the federal Liberals and Nationals chaos on the issue. We now have both the ALP and the Coalition in Victoria holding much stronger policy positions than their Federal counterparts.

What’s more achieveing the 20% reductions target will require some significant policy effort. Left unchecked Victoria’s emissions are anticipated to climb to 130 million tonnes per year by 2020, but our 20% target requires that emissions are cut to 96 million tonnes annually by 2020. That’s a cut of 3.4 million tonnes every year for the next decade or 34 million tonnes annually by 2020.

The recently released Climate Change White Paper outlined a number of policies that would lead to some emissions reductions, (e.g. replacing one quarter of Hazelwood and doubling the state’s energy efficiency target), but not in the order of 3.4 million tonnes per year. So now we’ve got the legislative mandate for new climate policies to cut pollution.

As you may know, Environment Victoria has two big ideas that they think all political parties should adopt. First, replace the whole of Hazelwood power station could deliver emissions reductions of 14.5 million tonnes per year by the end of 2012. Second, retrofitting one million Victorian homes for energy and water efficiency could deliver another 2.7 million tonnes of annual abatement while protecting Victorian households against rising utility bills, water shortages and extreme weather.

The passage of the Climate Change Act shows that the Victorian Parliament can rise to the challenge of climate change, regardless of federal inaction. The state election is 12 weeks away. Let’s hope that the policies we need to achieve our new target are seized upon and delivered.

Source: Environment Victoria.

Reducing Emissions to Create 3.7 million Jobs

Posted by admin on November 1st, 2010

Monday, 20 September 2010 11:32

The Australian Conservation Foundation and ACTU have released a report called Creating Jobs – Cutting Pollution that concludes that Australia can create 3.7 million jobs across Australia by taking strong action now to reduce carbon emissions.

The report calls for a price on carbon, investment in renewable energy, in public transport and more efficient vehicle fleets, and a national energy efficiency strategy for both commercial and residential buildings.

Last month Melbourne-based research organisation Beyond Zero Emissions published a study showing Australia could, if we chose, make the switch to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2020 using existing solar, wind and biofuel technology.

These are just the latest in a flurry of studies showing that we can move to a low-carbon, clean tech future. All that is needed now is some political leadership.

Source: Eco Directory Blog.

New Green Roof Grows Up in Melbourne

Posted by admin on November 1st, 2010

hursday, 21 October 2010 10:05

Melbourne’s skyline is now a little greener with the completion of the world’s first fully functional, competition-designed, retrofitted green roof, located at 131 Queen Street. City of Melbourne Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle, officially opened the green roof on Thursday 15 July alongside members of Growing Up, an initiative of eight young business leaders taking part in the Committee for Melbourne’s Future Focus Group.

Taking inspiration from progressive cities such as Chicago, New York and London, and aiming to make Melbourne more sustainable, the Growing Up project was launched in March 2009 offering Melbourne CBD building owners an opportunity to win a free green roof, designed and retrofitted for their building. The building at 131 Queen Street and winning design by BNET Architecture best exemplified the environmental and amenity benefits, as declared by the chair of the judging panel and Victorian Government Architect, Geoffrey London.

Growing Up spokesperson Tiffany Crawford said the project has produced a best-practice example of how public and private organisations can partner with industry, business and research institutions to create innovative solutions to sustainability issues. “Green roofs are more than just a response to climate change though; they offer many and varied benefits including creating green relief in our urban landscape. We found that the chance to win a green roof was compelling for many building owners given their environmental, economic, social and aesthetic advantages including reduced heating and cooling costs.”

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle agreed that 131 Queen Street was an excellent example of government, private building owners and businesses working together for a more sustainable future. “We are proud to support the Growing Up Project and the unveiling of this green roof and also the owners Corporation, who are one of the leadership signatories to our 1200 buildings program, aimed at retrofitting commercial buildings in Melbourne.” the Lord mayor said.

“Roof tops make up 17 per cent of total land area in the city. This project will capture the imagination of Melburnians, proving that nature can coexist with the built environment. This green roof is a practical example of the benefits of environmental sustainability and gives the owners, tenants and visitors to 131 Queen Street a whole new space in which to meet.”

The General Manager Water Ways, Melbourne Water, Chris Chesterfield, was an early supporter of the Growing Up initiative. “A roof such as this one provides significant benefits, not least of which is capturing rainfall and reducing the pressure of stormwater run-off on our infrastructure. This is a key reason why we are keen to test its effectiveness in inner-city Melbourne,” Mr Chesterfield said.

Construction of the project has relied on funding from key partners including Melbourne Water, Sustainability Victoria, City of Melbourne, Australia Post and VicUrban. Industry partners quickly realised the benefits of the project and were instrumental to its success, volunteering substantial in-kind time and products to realise Growing Up’s vision, including Better Projects Pty Ltd, Green Roof Technologies, WeBlow, Debco, the Nursery & Garden Industry Victoria, and Polyseal.

The scale of the Growing Up project has been considerable, involving transporting soil by blowing it up 12 stories and planting over 1300 plants. Green roofs are a relatively new concept in Australia and so the green roof includes a dedicated research area to facilitate further research by scientists from Melbourne University about plant species and the technology most suitable for Melbourne’s unique climate.

Ken Hitchcock from Green Roof Technologies, a key project partner, believes green roofs provide more than the chance to combat climate change in our warming cities. “Green roofs offer attractive spaces for employees and residents to enjoy,” Mr hitchcock said. “I applaud the vision of Growing Up and the Committee for Melbourne for initiating and supporting the green roof movement and was thrilled to be a part of this ground breaking project which had brought different components of the industry together.”

Winners of the design competition, BNET Architecture, aimed to showcase the environmental, social and economic benefits of green roofs through the creation of an oasis within the city. “We wanted to create an area for the building occupants that is both connected to and protected from its surrounds. The design revolves around a central landscape hill, bound by edges of seating and planting, and inhabitants are surrounded by greenery along a continuous experience of the roof. Traditional garden structures, such as a folly, gazebo and terracing create diversity along the journey,” said architect. Merran Porjazoski.

Growing Up are urging Victoria’s government, corporate, education and community sectors to follow its lead and help transform Melbourne into Australia’s first green roof city. Ms Crawford explained that “The growing up project was always about more than one green roof – it is about asking Melbourne to rethink the use of its roof-tops. We are so proud to have worked with our sponsors, project partners and the owners at 131 Queen Street to deliver this unique and beautiful space for the building occupants. It is our hope that Melbourne will now be inspired to take oin our challenge and literally “grow up”.

Source: Green Roofs.

Green Loans for Aussie Homes

Posted by admin on November 1st, 2010
Thursday, 26 February 2009 09:53
Soon to arrive in 2009 will be the Federal Government low interest green loan for up to 200,000 working Australian families. The Green Loans For Aussie Homes program is designed to help families make the switch to sustainable products which will help Australians reduce their annual carbon foot print.

The loan of up to $10,000 is to be repaid at 2% of annual income with a minimum repayment of $300 per Year.

Some of the items households will be able to purchase under this plan include:

1. Solar Panels

2. Rainwater tanks and greywater recycling systems.

3. Insulation and shading devices

4. solar, heat pump and high- efficiency gas hot water systems

5. Energy efficient lighting

Green Loans Update-Launch date early July 09

Posted by admin on November 1st, 2010
Tuesday, 09 June 2009 10:35
The Sydney Green Loans meeting was well attended by all training organisations. The important points are as follows

– Green Loans program is alive and well (contrary to some reports in yesterday’s press).
– The Green Loans Home Sustainability Assessment program will become the national benchmark for all home assessments.
– The Government sees this program as a creator of sustainable jobs and a national asset.
– DEWHA is looking for certainty of quality assessments and a high volume of assessments!

The first organisation has been offered a contract as an Assessor Accrediting Organisation – it is ABSA.

The HSA software is still under development by the CSIRO.
Alan Pears (Adj Prof of Sustainability at RMIT) is also working on the project.
The questions to be asked by the HSA are currently under review and should be finalised shortly.
The householder self assessment will not be available for the first few months, so HSAs will be able to claim $150 for the assessment and $50 for the self-assessment (plus any relevant travel allowances).
The software will continue to be developed over a period of time.

The DRAFT assessor contract has been uploaded onto the website.
Contracts with DEWHA will be with INDIVIDUALS – not companies.
Individuals will then nominate a bank account into which funds can be deposited by DEWHA for assessments conducted.
The timelimit for the assessment has been removed from the website.

A booking system package has been selected and will be implemented to support the program.
A call centre will provide backup and access to the scheme for householders without web access.

The HSA may return to the household to offer services once the contract with DEWHA has been completed,

There are a number of State Government programs that lend themselves to a bi-lateral service.
Unless this has been pre-approved by DEWHA and the State Government, auditors MUST NOT provide another service whilst conducting the HSA.

Green Renovation Pack (replacing CFLs and shower roses) has been replaced with a voucher system.
You will not be replacing CFLS and shower roses.
Auditors will not be involved in the voucher system, they will be sent directly to the householder with their report.

Auditors are NOT required to assess a ceiling to view insulation. However, DEWHA will not prohibit auditors from doing so.
Clearly there are issues about ladders, safety, insurance, etc. We will have these ironed out before the next 2 day training.

The HSA course will ultimately become an accredited course (possibly Certificate IV).
You will be given recognition of prior learning for the training completed with us.

DEWHA will not restrict the number of HSAs that are being trained around Australia.

Green Loans Program is a BRAND owned by the Commonwealth.

Assessors will be known as Home Sustainability Assessors – not a GREEN LOANS Assessor.

Services will be audited by an independent auditor from time to time.

This new profession will have its own accrediting body (in the first instance ABSA), they will develop a number of CPD (continuing professional development) units to keep you up to date. Other organisations can also develop CPD units and offer them to you commercially.


The pilot will be approximately 2 weeks only.
It will be in 2 or 3 locations, certain postcodes only. The post codes have not yet been announced.
The booking system will be in place, HSAs IN THE SELECTED POSTCODE AREAS, can offer their services.
They will need to become accredited, sign a contract with DEWHA and then conduct their business for a 2 week window.
The HSA will record information into a booklet which will then be forwarded to DEWHA.
The HSA will be paid as per the schedule of fees.

Research institutes will then interview households to determine their effectiveness.

Whilst gathering information for the pilot, every participant was asked to nominate their postcode range.
A number of HSAs responded with ‘State wide’, ‘Metrpolitan area’ etc.
The Green Loans team are now considering restricting the number of postcodes in which a HSA can operate.

Currently envisaged to be early July.

Partnership agreements are to be issued by early March.

Green Loans About to Begin!

Posted by admin on November 1st, 2010

Solar Panel Installations and Home Solar Power Systems
Green Loans About to Begin!
Tuesday, 09 June 2009 10:41

Environment Minister, Peter Garrett said Australian homeowners will be able to make their homes more energy and water efficient with 1000 home sustainability assessors ready to begin work and credit providers signed up to commence the rollout of the Green Loans Program from July 1.

“Through Green Loans we are making it easier for 360,000 Australian homeowners to learn what they can do to make their homes more energy efficient from an accredited assessor.”

“The fact is that for many households the assessor will identify simple, low-cost actions like changing light globes, sealing draughts and repairing leaking taps.”

“However, there will also be larger-scale recommendations, many of which can now be adopted at a reduced or zero cost thanks to the Government’s unprecedented investment in energy efficiency – namely installing solar PV or solar hot water or ceiling insulation. Solar hot water and insulation are two of the most cost effective energy efficient changes households can make.”

“And now, with the launch of Green Loans, we’re also providing the opportunity for householders to access up to $10,000 for other alternate changes, enabling them to be well and truly equipped for a low pollution future.”

Mr Garrett said in light of the Government’s $4 billion investment in energy efficiency, lower interest rates and major shifts in the global financial markets, some changes had been made to the scheme to ensure that it is better focused:

* Household assessments for 360,000 households will now come at zero cost and will no longer be tied to the loan.
* Loans of up to $10,000 will now be interest free for the first four years
* The Government will reduce the number of loans available to 75,000 over the five year life of the scheme.

“With more than 300,000 households now able to access the solar hot water rebate and 2.9 million homes eligible for free ceiling insulation and more solar panels going on more roofs than any other time in the nation’s history, these are sensible changes to the Green Loans program which acknowledge that many homeowners won’t need a loan to make big changes to improve their energy efficiency.

“Trained assessors will begin providing free in-home assessments and advice on heating, cooling, lighting, hot water and water efficiency in every capital city and two regional locations from next week. Loans and the full program will commence nationwide from July 1.

“I am pleased to announce the first five of our financial partners: Melbourne based winner of a 2005 Banksia Award MECU, the largest community based financial institution in Sydney and the Central Coast Community First Credit Union, Queensland’s Maleny Credit Union, industry based Old Gold Credit Union Co-op and the latest to sign up is the New England Credit Union with over 60,000 members in New South Wales.

“My Department is also in negotiations with a number of other financial providers and I expect to be able to announce further details soon.”

Minister Garrett said home owners wishing to participate in the Green Loans Program follow three steps:
1. Register for a free home sustainability assessment
2. Receive your tailored home sustainability assessment report
3. Choose your home sustainability actions which may include applying to a financial partner for a Green Loan.

For more information on the Green Loans Program please call Scott at SolarGen on 1300 676 527

PM to Move Quickly on Climate Change

Posted by admin on November 1st, 2010
Monday, 27 September 2010 13:21
Julia Gillard will move fast to try to reassert the government’s credentials on climate change when Parliament sits for the first time since the election.

The Prime Minister will announce as early as today the make-up of a committee to forge the way to a price on carbon, a signal of the government’s wish to gain the initiative on an issue that bedevilled its first term in office.

The committee is expected to include the Minister for Climate Change, Greg Combet, the Green’s climate change spokeswoman, Christine Milne, and academic experts.

In his weekly economic note yesterday, the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, laid out the government’s  direction: “I’m looking forward to the new parliament adopting a more co-operative approach to tackling the key issues for our future, like putting a price on carbon and delivering certainty for business.” It was the first mention of a price on pollution in Mr Swan’s note since February.

The cause of a carbon price was given a boost on Friday when Treasury decided to release, after freedom-of-information requests, its Red and Blue books of incoming advice to the government and opposition.

The briefs delivered a strong endorsement of using market mechanisms – such as emissions trading scheme – to curb pollution levels. The Blue Book, which Treasury would have handed to the Coalition had it won power, strongly queried its “direct action” plan to tackle climate change without a carbon tax or trading scheme.

Cutting emissions to 5 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020 “cannot be achieved without a carbon price unless significant economic and budget impacts are to be imposed”, the Blue Book said.

Yesterday Ms Gillard reiterated her offer for Coalition MP’s to sit on the climate change committee, an offer the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, has rejected on behalf of his MP’s.

“We’re putting together a committee that is open to representatives of all sides of politics who agree that climate change is real and we need to price carbon in order to reach the targets we’ve set ourselves in 2020,” said Ms Gillard, who moved in to the lodge yesterday.

Mr Combet suggested on Thursday that he was likely to sit on the committee. “It’s obviously going to be a pivotal part of my work…and I’ll be closely involved with the development, or the discussion and the consensus building and the expert advice and the consideration of the policy options on how we develop a carbon price,” he said.

Source: Cool Sydney.

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