News

News /

Election issues

The federal Election is in a few weeks so we thought we’d have a look at the policies (if any) that the major parties have in place regarding climate change.

The Coalition on climate change

The 2016 Budget provides no vision to transition away from coal to the renewable economy of the future. Emphasised by the refusal of a price on carbon and the announcement last week that, more than half a billion dollars has been spent on planting trees under the Turnbull governments Direct Action Plan, while nothing has been done to tighten the relaxed laws on land clearing in NSW and QLD. The Sydney Morning Herald discusses how this policy is illogical and unable to achieve desired emissions reduction while safeguarding the big polluters.

The budget will see fuel tax credits cost Australians almost $26.5 billion over the next four years as they pay 40 cents in tax on every litre of fuel they buy while some of the world’s largest mining companies will not pay tax on the fuel they use, says the CEO of Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) Kelly O’Shanassy in an interview with VICE.

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Solar for Community Groups

Community groups in the City of Moreland are saving money and carbon emissions through an innovative solar pilot program.

As part of the Zero Carbon Evolution strategy, Positive Charge has been working with Moreland City Council to pilot an innovative funding mechanism that enables community groups who rent their premises from Council to install solar panels. 

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How Does Your Home Rate?

Victorian householders now have the opportunity to understand the thermal performance of their home and the efficiency of their major electrical appliances, as well as where their energy is being used.

The Victorian Government has developed Australia’s first home energy efficiency rating tool, known as The Residential Efficiency Scorecard, which has been specifically designed to help Victorians save on their power bills, and improve the comfort of their homes.

How it works

The Scorecard is a cloud-based web app used on a tablet, such as an iPad, which gives households a star rating out of ten for their home’s energy costs. The higher the star rating, the more energy efficient a home is and the lower the energy costs.

Expert assessors use the Scorecard to enter information about the fixed features of a home such as heaters, air conditioners, hot water systems, wall and floor materials, insulation, windows and solar power systems. They can then generate an overall Energy Efficiency Star Rating and certificate on the spot.

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Making Energy Visible

 For low-income households, managing energy costs can be critical to avoiding severe financial hardship. In-home display units that show energy usage in detail can help these households improve their energy efficiency and lower their costs, according to new report from the Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS).
The report is titled Making Energy Visible: Using smart meters and in-home display units to improve energy efficiency for people facing disadvantage.

Background

The report makes the following points about the current situation for low-income households:

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News /

Feed-in tariffs review

Currently households with solar panels receive a flat rate of only 5c per kilowatt-hour for electricity they feed in to the grid. The Victorian Essential Services Commission is currently reviewing the feed-in tariff system. The Commission has proposed that feed-in tariffs should reflect the broader economic, environmental and social benefits of solar.

Proposals

Under the proposed new system, feed-in tariffs would no longer be a fixed flat rate but would vary depending on the time of day (i.e. peak, shoulder, and off-peak periods). Tariffs would include a Critical Peak Payment and a payment for Avoided Greenhouse Gas Emissions.  These changes could add up to a doubling of the feed-in tariff from next year, perhaps even more. Whether or not the proposed new tariff system is adopted next year will be a political decision.

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Projects /

Sustainability Opportunities Developer Workshops at Kingston

Steller Managing Director Nicholas Smedley

MEFL is working with the City of Kingston on a series of ten workshops for local developers. The project involves a council-sponsored initial sustainability opportunity assessment by MEFL, working directly with the development team.

The workshops, which take between two and three hours, also act as an education opportunity for new environmentally sustainable development (ESD) approaches and technology. The methodology is informed by our experience in the management of the roll-out of Sustainable Design Assessment in the Planning Process (SDAPP) to councils across Victoria and the development of MEFL’s Sustainable Urban Development Framework which incorporates carbon (energy), water, waste, materials and transport considerations. This project has resulted in significant benefit for City of Kingston and developers.

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Supporting business

The independent experts at Positive Charge can help you save energy and money: that’s the message our team has recently been taking to Moreland businesses. We’ve already assisted many local businesses identify simple ways to save. Popular energy saving initiatives for Moreland businesses have included: switching off unused equipment and appliances; upgrading to efficient LED lighting; adjusting heating and cooling temperature set-points; maintaining/servicing equipment; and solar.

It’s never too late

Businesses want to save money on energy costs but are typically time-poor and don’t have time to look at their energy usage – electricity and gas – in detail. We’ve found that it’s easy to forget the benefits of lowering your energy bills, until the next bill arrives. It’s good to know that it’s never too late to start saving and that Positive Charge can help your business do just that.

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Projects /

The Commons

The Commons, photo: Andrew Wuttke
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The Commons

The Commons is an outstanding sustainable apartment development that used MEFL’s
Sustainable Urban Development Framework  to communicate their approach to sustainability. Situated in Florence Street Brunswick, the development was designed by Breathe Architecture and delivered by developer Small Giants. This project sets a new benchmark in sustainable living. It has won two Victorian Australian Institute of Architects awards for sustainable design and multi-unit housing.

The potential

New houses, commercial buildings and entire neighbourhoods are being designed and built all around Melbourne. MEFL’s work using the Sustainable Urban Development Framework has demonstrated that all projects have the potential to improve their sustainability outcomes. Early consideration and taking a tailored approach based on the project’s unique context can lead to better outcomes that don’t have a huge cost impact – a win for all.

Projects /

Sustainable Urban Development Framework

Urban developments built now and into the future will have a lasting effect on the sustainability of our cities. However competing pressures can make delivery of truly sustainable development difficult to achieve.

During 2010-11, MEFL developed the Sustainable Urban Development Framework (SUDF) to help project managers, urban planners, and developers embed sustainability features throughout development projects.

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