Tag Archives: low carbon living

low carbon emissions

CRC for Low Carbon Living on track to reduce carbon emissions

The goal of the CRC for Low Carbon Living (CRCLCL), which is in its final year of funding, is to achieve 10 megatonnes cumulative reduction in carbon emissions by 2020.  This will provide a projected economic benefit to Australia of $684 million by 2027.

Speaking at its Annual Forum – From Research to Reality – in Adelaide, CRCLCL CEO Scientia Professor Deo Prasad AO said the past six years of low carbon research will significantly help reduce carbon emissions in Australia’s built environment now and into the future, through new technology and changes to policy and human behaviour.

“Our research collaborations with industry and government have proved that a low to zero carbon future is not pie in the sky as our research now becomes a reality and makes a real impact, which is the focus of this Forum,” he said.

“Over 120 projects have produced excellent results, such as the Built to Perform report which proves that changes to the National Construction Code could improve energy efficiency in Australian Buildings by up to 56 per cent and cut household energy bills by $200-900 per year; and a low carbon schools education pilot program, which saved 266 tonnes of carbon emissions in Western Australia, is now a viable ongoing national program called ClimateClever,” said Professor Prasad.

“The Low Carbon Living Australia program, a pilot which helped 80 tourism businesses in the Blue Mountains lower their carbon emissions by 15 per cent, has now been rolled out nationally with partner Eco Tourism Australia; and our Urban Heat Mitigation projects have provided an authoritative new body of Australian research critical to how we keep our cities cool, now and into the future.”

Blockchain technology research for solar energy sharing and pricing which was conducted at one of the CRCLCL’s 16 Living Laboratories – White Gum Valley in Perth – was the foundation of a new business calledPowerLedger, co-founded by the CRCLCL researcher, Dr Jemma Green.  PowerLedger recently won Sir Richard Branson’s Extreme Technology Challenge which provides entrepreneurs an opportunity to “break out of the pack” plus unprecedented access to key investors, innovators and high-profile entrepreneurs.

“Our research has also revealed that 81 per cent of a home’s electricity supply can be met by a combination of solar 3kW PV and a 10KWh battery, and that owner occupiers of net zero energy homes will save $24,935 over their home’s lifetime,” Professor Prasad said.

International keynote speaker, UK policy expert Professor Brian Collins, Professor of Engineering Policy at University College London and Director of the International Centre for Infrastructure Futures, said he was impressed with the CRCLCL’s achievements.

“I’m highly impressed by the work of the CRC, which is crucial for Australia to ensure it has strong, sustainable and liveable cities as it has provided concrete evidence that can help influence change in building codes and government and city policy,” he said.

“Changing how we do things is always a challenge, and it is my experience with policy implementation that sustained research is fundamental to providing evidence and ideas for policy and process changes.  Educating future experts and leaders in low carbon living is critical to ensure that rapid take-up of knowledge and innovation takes place resulting in low carbon services.  More investment in this form of education is overdue,” he said.

“This is a challenge that is being met all around the world and Australia is showing true leadership in this area through the work of the CRCLCL and its partners. We in the UK look forward to greater collaboration in this area of research,” said Professor Collins.

 

Originally published by the CRC for Low Carbon Living.

Testing zero-energy homes

Featured image credit: D-Max Photography

The CRC for Low Carbon Living (CRCLCL) has announced $500,000 in funding for a new national zero-energy homes project. The project will research consumer attitudes and aim to influence the building industry to construct new dwellings to zero-energy standards.

At present the energy efficiency of a home is measured according to the Nationwide House Energy Rating System (NatHERS). This star rating system measures the energy required to heat and cool a home, with new buildings being required to meet a minimum six-star rating.

Zero-energy homes, on the other hand, are homes that are carbon neutral across the year – they produce as much (or more) energy than they consume. All aspects of energy consumption are accounted for – not just heating and cooling, but also lighting, appliances and so on.

Project lead Dr Josh Byrne, senior research fellow with Curtin University’s Sustainability Policy Institute, believes that the current six-star requirement is merely “eliminating worst practice”. He has built two 10-star rated homes as part of his project, Josh’s House, which was part of the CRCLCL’s Living Labs project near Fremantle in Western Australia. Now he’s keen to bring zero-energy homes into the mainstream.

“It’s not just about bunging on more solar panels to offset the power usage, it’s about how the houses can be designed to perform better thermally,” Byrne says. “We know that simple things like orientation, cross-ventilation, and building air tightness can all dramatically reduce the build performance.”

The project team will be working with developers and builders from three different climate areas – WA, the ACT and Queensland – to design and build zero-energy display homes and present them alongside conventional homes to gauge the response from consumers. Instead of focusing on the sustainability benefits, they want to see how the public thinks zero-energy homes stack up on liveability. “We’re really interested in seeing how people respond to the look, feel and comfort of the zero-energy homes,” Byrne says.

The researchers will then present this data to the regulatory bodies, in the hope that an evidence-based approach will help shift the common perceptions that sustainable building practices are too costly and that there is no market demand for these homes.

With 100,000 new homes being built in Australia each year, moving to zero-energy homes would reduce carbon emissions by 700,000 tonnes. California has committed to achieving this by 2020, and members of the European Union are doing the same. Byrne thinks it’s more than possible here. “I would like to see us setting a realistic goal of achieving that within 10 years,” he says.

Find out more at LOWCARBONLIVINGCRC.COM.AU

Read more CRC discovery in KnowHow 2017

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First low carbon finder app

In an Australian first, the tourism business community in the Blue Mountains has proved that a low carbon future for businesses and users is possible, with the launch today of one of the most extensively researched low carbon regional programs.

The Blue Mountains Low Carbon Living program released its website and web app designed to support and promote businesses that have reduced their carbon footprint and at the same time provide residents and visitors an opportunity to reduce theirs by choosing low carbon services.

Of 200 Blue Mountains visitors and 100 residents surveyed in April 2016 regarding their own carbon footprint,  94% said they were concerned and 85% said they were prepared to choose business services with a low carbon footprint.  Nearly 70% also said they would use a website or app that identified local businesses that had achieved reduction ratings to make their choice.

Funded by the CRC for Low Carbon Living (CRCLCL), the new web and app program can be easily transferred to other communities and is set to be taken up by other regions in NSW and nationally.

CRCLCL project leader and Executive Director of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute (BMWHI) Dr John Merson says the audit techniques developed for the 30 local businesses in the pilot program, along with the rating scheme and website were designed to be easily transferrable to other communities.

“Overall our audits reviewed the business’ energy, water and waste usage, advised on how to be more efficient in using carbon based resources,  then assessed what they had done and calculated the carbon reduction.  From this we provided a gold, silver or bronze rating for the website,” says Merson.

“Some businesses have achieved up to 15% carbon reductions in one year with many having further plans to increase this figure by adding more solar or introducing water recycling, for example.

“Businesses involved in the project include hotels, bed and breakfasts, restaurants, cafes plus transport and activity providers.  Their incentive to be involved is that by lowering their carbon footprint they will attract more customers who in turn seek to lower their own footprint by using low carbon services. 

“The website is ultimately a way of promoting the businesses’ carbon reduction achievements and at the same time providing residents and visitors with the opportunity to support them.”

One local business given a gold rating – Silvermere Guest House – have  not only reduced their energy use through solar systems, but also their potable water use by around 40% through a variety of recommended water saving initiatives. They are planning further energy savings over the next 12 months including the introduction of a solar powered robotic lawn mower. 

“Our plans include increasing the number of solar panels and purchasing a rechargeable robot lawn mower to replace the current petrol burning mowers,” says owner Cathy.

According to CRCLCL CEO Professor Deo Prasad, worldwide tourism accounts for 5% of greenhouse gas emissions and makes up 5.6% of Australia’s emissions so the new website and app package was a significant achievement.

“Now we have a proven low carbon audit system, website and app package available through this project, more business communities and carbon emission conscious individuals in Australia and around the world can benefit as it is rolled out and further developed,” says Prasad.

“We are very pleased with what this project has achieved and what it has to offer for a low carbon future.” 

Today’s launch was held in Katoomba and included a variety of presentations from local business leaders and researchers.

This information was first shared by the Low Carbon Living CRC on 26 May 2016.

Women of Influence

Three CRC women named in 100 Women of Influence   

Professor Jane Burns, Scientia Professor Veena Sahajwalla and Ms Pat Anderson AO have recently been named Women of Influence in the Australian Financial Review and Westpac 100 Women of Influence Awards.

Professor Jane Burns, CEO of the Young and Well CRC, which researches the health and wellbeing of young people, was the category winner for social enterprise and not-for-profit. Burns was also a Victorian finalist in the 2012 Telstra Business Women’s Awards and was listed in the Financial Review and Westpac Group 100 Women of Influence in 2012.

Professor Veena Sahajwalla is a Project Leader in the Low Carbon Living CRC, working on innovative sustainable low carbon products from waste materials for the built environment. 

Pat Anderson is the Chairperson of the CRC for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health (The Lowitja Institute), which has led reform into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research by working with communities, researchers and policymakers. Anderson was the winner in the public policy category.

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