MEFL worked with the Centroc group of councils in central NSW on the Council-led Energy Innovation Project. The project developed a process to scope out and assess a range of renewable energy projects identified by the councils in the region. We assisted in the preliminary development of a proposal for a local renewable energy project with potential funding partners.
MEFL was contracted in partnership with Enhar to deliver an options report to examine the current energy supply situation to ascertain the key areas of risk and opportunity and then review a range of renewable energy options available to Harrietville. In particular the report examined the energy requirements of the town during critical incidents and considered the best means to ensure continuous supply. The team identified a key focus on business energy (up to half of the town’s electricity use is within 7 local tourism businesses).
One of the most common arguments against renewable energy (particularly solar) is its inability to provide base load generation. “Here Comes the Sun” sought to address this issue by establishing the viability of small communities that could install solar arrays with excess generating capacity and store any excess generation in batteries for use when the community’s solar arrays are not generating enough energy to meet the community’s needs. The project was sponsored by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and delivered by MEFL and GreenSync.
The final report has been approved recently and will appear on the ARENA website soon. We will link to it when it does.
As a way to mitigate the Urban Heat Island Effect, MEFL in a partnership with Moreland City Council is working on a project named Cooling Communities. This project is funded through the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and will work in areas of social housing in Moreland.
Moreland’s suburbs are particularly vulnerable to heat waves due to a lack of green infrastructure and lack of water bodies such as rivers or lagoons. An analysis shows that vulnerability to the UHIE is particularly extreme in areas of social housing. This project aims to create a set of recommendations which will promote UHIE resilience in social housing areas, for use by local government, social housing providers, and residents across Victoria.
The Coalition for Community Energy (C4CE) released the Guide to Community-Owned Renewable Energy for Victorians in 2015. MEFL contributed to the Guide’s development, along with Embark, Community Power Agency and the Alternative Technology Association.
Developed specifically for the Victorian context, the work was funded by the Victorian Government. It is both a resource for community groups that are considering a renewable energy project and those that are already in the process of establishing a project. The Guide consolidates existing knowledge and resources and provides links to further information and advice. It provides practical pointers on critical commercial, technical, governance and regulatory aspects of renewable energy projects, including a wealth of useful information on identifying an appropriate business model, selecting the most suitable technology and managing a project.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Early in 2014, MEFL completed a project as Environmentally Sustainable Development (ESD) Advisor to Yarra Ranges Council which focused on providing strong impetus in the municipality’s efforts to implement the sustainability elements of the Council and community plan ‘Vision 2020’.
The role included the development of improved sustainability integration processes, particularly in capital works and planning operations, with staff capacity building and training. MEFL provided targeted and specialised advice, training and support across the following areas:
Capital Works Program – developed an ESD plan for nominated capital works projects.
Carbon Management Program – review of Council’s existing Carbon Management Program and Asset Management Systems
Planning Services – investigation of similar planning systems and tools to assist planners evaluate ESD inclusions in development applications
Capacity & Training – delivered training and built capacity of Council staff on the assessment tools and frameworks that help to integrate environmentally sustainable development into capital works projects and planning application and approval processes.
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has identified a need for increased protection from extreme heat events for its clients in north-west Victoria. MEFL was engaged to tackle this problem, leading a consortium including Design Inc, Ernst and Young, Breathe Architecture and Josh Byrne and Associates.
The consortium developed a new suite of dwelling typologies and precinct approaches that will guarantee summer performance for DHHS clients. The consortium also took cost-effectiveness and and durability into account in the selection of sustainable design measures.