clear the air

Wish upon a green star
April 17, 2008, 8:42 am
Filed under: Australia's Challenge, Global | Tags: ,

In Australia’s increasingly important fight against climate change, the country’s leading green building rating system Green Star is continuing to transform the property industry by going further, becoming easier to use, and certifying buildings faster.

The green building industry continues to go beyond best practice. Over 75% of the Green Star certified buildings have achieved a 5 Star “Australian Excellence” or 6 Star “World Leadership” Green Star rating.

There are now eight 6 Star Green Star certified buildings, with six of these projects achieving their 6 Star rating in the past six months. These include the first Green Star certified shopping centre, Queensland’s Orion, and convention centre in Melbourne.

Proving the Green Star is penetrating further into the market, the Green Building Council of Australia has released Green Star tools for more sectors – existing buildings, hospitals, schools and universities, as well as for shopping centres.

Green Star rating tools for industrial facilities and public buildings, such as libraries and museums, are due for release in 2008, with the Green Star – Multi Unit Residential rating tool to be launched as a PILOT on 15 April 2008.

Although already considered a world leading rating system, which has been recognised internationally by the adoption of Green Star in New Zealand and South Africa, the Green Building Council of Australia continues to redefine best practice through its Green Star tools.

The new version of the Green Star – Office Design and Office As Built rating tools, the third in four years, incorporates stakeholder feedback and changes within the industry to be more robust, relevant and easier-to-use.

Evidence that Green Star certification is becoming easier, two projects recently achieved their desired rating after only one round of assessment, including the most recent project in Queensland to achieve a Green Star – Office Design v2 rating, 25 Montpelier Road.

According to Green Building Council of Australia CEO, Romilly Madew “by using experienced consultants and developing their own knowledge of Green Star, project teams can achieve their desired rating after only one round, saving both money and time.”

“This is proof that the industry is understanding what it takes to go green, and in doing so is positioning Australia as a world leader in sustainable design” she said.

There are now 49 Green Star certified projects across Australia, with a further 500 commercial office projects registered for certification.

How Australian’s can get practical advice to reduce their energy usage

Sydney-based Todae offers businesses practical advice for cutting down energy and water usage and reducing their environmental impact.

For $A 399, a Todae consultant will come to an office or store and check everything from recycling to heating and cooling systems. The business is then provided with a detailed report that explains how to cut costs and go green. Todae’s service is geared to small to medium businesses looking to save money, be less harmful to the environment and create a “strong environmental brand ethos” amongst customers and staff.

It’s an excellent concept, and Marquette Turner believes many consumers would also be interested in environmental assessments. Plenty of people would like to diminish their negative impact on the earth, but aren’t sure exactly what to do about it. Or are too lazy or busy or both 😉 Having an environmental expert come to the door and give a home a full check-up would definitely help. Besides compiling a checklist of very specific issues to improve, ‘home greeners’ could of course offer to implement the necessary changes, too. So, set it up, brand it well (how about eco badges for homes?), and start knocking on doors. Before you know it, you’ll be running your own franchise.

P.S. Todae also sells a wide variety of eco products for homes and businesses, both through their website and from a recently opened shop in Sydney’s Glebe district.


Australia’s Carbon Emissions Timetable

As reported by Mike Preston in Smart Company today, by the end of this year, business should have a clear idea about the extra costs they will face under a carbon emissions trading scheme after a timetable was released by the Government yesterday.

Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said she will release a green paper setting out what a carbon trading system will look like by July 2008, to be followed by draft legislation in December.

That will be followed in 2009 by a round of intensive consultation with business and community groups, Wong says, before the legislation is passed – although it will require independent support in the Senate – in mid-2009, wuth the carbon trading scheme commencing early in 2010.

“The introduction of emissions trading will constitute the most significant economic and structural reform undertaken in Australia since the trade liberalisation of the 1980s,” Wong said.

Earth Hour Launched
earth-hour.jpgBusiness leaders have gathered in Sydney to support Earth Hour 2008 and its global launch.Earth Hour involves people and businesses turning off lights and appliances for an hour to send a message about curbing destructive carbon emissions.

NSW Premier, Morris Iemma, speaking at the launch accused critics of the event of pedalling ‘utter rubbish’.

‘The critics and sceptics need to get on board,’ he said. ‘It’s utter rubbish to say that symbolism can’t lead to change. Yes it’s about symbolism, but it’s a very powerful one – it’s about saving the planet.’

Mr Iemma announced that all government departments would take part in Earth Hour at 8pm on March 29th, and said he had allocated $100,000 from the state’s Climate Change Fund to support the program.

In 2007, 2.2 million Sydneysiders switched off their lights for an hour, a sight which was broadcast across the world.

In 2008, 24 major capital cities will take part, along with hundreds of other smaller cities.

WWF Australia, which is organising Earth Hour says 75 per cent of the top 100 companies listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, all of the state’s major property companies, 70 per cent of the state’s one, two and three hat restaurants, the top five banks, 85 per cent of the state’s main hotels and the 50 largest local councils in NSW will also take part.

Simon Turner

Water, Not Down The Drain

Water: Not Down the Drain

A guide to using rainwater and greywater at home
by Stuart McQuire

It’s time to think of other ways to secure water for the home. This book shows you how.

Water Not Down the Drain is a comprehensive guide to sustainable water use around the home. With Australia experiencing one of its driest phases in history, everyone has to think about how they use the water available to them and find ways to reduce their day to day water use. The good news is that with rainwater and greywater, people have more water available to them than they think.

Topics include:

  • Making the most of the water you have
  • Saving water, including tips on how to use less water
  • Top water greenhouse savers
  • Calculating how much water is available including rainwater, greywater and stormwater
  • Where can you use rainwater, greywater and stormwater
  • Rainwater tanks and where to place them
  • Tank types including under floor tanks
  • Regulations
  • Rebates
  • Selecting a greywater system
  • Greywater health and safety
  • Watering systems for greywater
  • Composting toilets and complete treatment systems such as worm farms
  • Wise watering in the garden
  • How to use stormwater at home

Water Not Down the Drain includes case studies from author Stuart McQuire’s house, including examples of how he uses rainwater, greywater and stormwater. Useful tips and advice appear throughout the book to help you make changes at home.

About the author
Stuart McQuire’s household used to be above average suburban water users. Since then they have reduced their mains water use by 96 per cent. In fact, they use just two and a half buckets of mains water per day, but still have a thriving garden full of fresh produce. All other water comes from the site either as rainwater or recycled water. Stuart began using rainwater and greywater in the early nineties to save water, and his home has gained a national and international profile for its role in pioneering environmental technologies and sustainable living.

Stuart McQuire is an environmental scientist and past president of the Alternative Technology Association. This is his second book about water. In this book, he shares his journey to sustainable water use and shows readers what he’s done at home. Stuart’s house is surrounded by a permaculture garden with 20 fruit and nut trees, and features grid-connected solar electricity, solar hot water, rainwater tanks, water recycling, composting and chooks. The book includes photos of Stuart’s water smart house and garden.

Retail price only: $29.95

Click here to order your copy.

Now Available in Borders – check both the magazine and book section of the store to locate a copy.

The book is published by the Alternative Technology Association and supported by the Smart Water Fund.

Home Loans With An Eco Rebate
February 28, 2008, 8:20 am
Filed under: Australia's Challenge, Eco-Friendly Tips, Facts | Tags: , ,
A full choice of lenders and rates, plus a rebate to purchase eco-friendly products.

Australia’s Eco-Property Guide

The trend for people to consider selling up their higher priced city home, being mortgage free and heading to a coastal retreat for a more relaxed and family oriented life has been reported often in TV shows and print stories. Of course most of us still need to make a living so this requires either means having an easily transferable set of skills or making changes to way income is earned by running a small business or changing your profession.

Making the move to rural or regional areas of Australia is far less common despite the fact that Australia is known as the wide brown land and farming and the outback iconic. Returning to or considering country life is definitely the poor relation these days and it will be interesting to see what it may take to change this trend.

There are though some fabulous opportunities for families or business partners to consider not only moving to rural parts of Australia but taking up a new way of life. One example would be to join the organic industry by buying an already establishing citrus farm and business. All the hard work is now done with of course some potential to be realised if you wanted to grow the business further. Added benefit is that the current owners providing training and support. On the other end of the scale are properties such as in Tasmania which are more hobby farms where the activity on the farm at least pays its way and contributes food to the family and can blend with some off-farm activity to combine a wonderful way of family life.

Check out the Eco-Property Guide

“Visualising” Energy Use In Your Home

Household energy monitors have been around for some time. A few new entries into the space, however, add a splash of colour and style to make understanding energy consumption more intuitive.

Wattson, first of all, is a sleek, aesthetically pleasing device that shows homeowners through both numbers and colours how much energy they are using in their home. Consumers begin by attaching to their electricity meter or fuse box a transmitter device, which can measure both single and 3-phase systems. That, in turn, beams information directly to the freestanding wattson device elsewhere in the house, where it instantly displays current usage.

Wattson’s LED display can represent energy use in euros, dollars, yen or pounds, while its pulsing, coloured light also reflects the amount of electricity being used, ranging from cool blue for small amounts to red for high energy consumption. The wireless wattson display is portable, and when appliances are switched on or off, it indicates how much energy they use.

Homeowners can store up to 4 weeks of energy-use history on the device and download it for analysis on software that comes included; a forthcoming community feature will let wattson owners compare their usage. Wattson was listed in Stuff Magazine’s “Cool List” of the top 10 gadgets of 2007. It is priced at GBP 149.50 from UK-based DIY KYOTO.

The Home Joule, meanwhile, resembles a nightlight and plugs into any outlet in a home. The device displays not just energy usage, broadcast wirelessly by the consumer’s energy meter, but also the real-time cost of energy, which comes wirelessly from the energy company. The colour of light emitted by the device represents the costs of the moment, with yellow and red light indicating expensive energy costs, while green means energy is cheaper. The idea is that consumers can then modify their consumption accordingly, switching off discretionary appliances at peak times of the day. The Home Joule is from Ambient Devices and is currently available only to customers of Consumer Powerline’s demand-response program.

Finally, though not truly an energy monitor, we can’t resist mentioning Ambient‘s beautiful Energy Orb, which also emits different colours of light to represent pricing information. This time, however, the device emitting the light is an egg-shaped orb that plugs into an outlet. The Energy Orb has been adopted by Pacific Gas & Electric and other US energy companies, and is priced at USD 149.99.

With energy prices heading nowhere but up, so, too, will demand for devices like these. One to get in on early, especially outside the US!


“Give a Toss” to our Throw Away Culture
February 7, 2008, 8:06 am
Filed under: Australia's Challenge, Eco-Friendly Tips


Scoodi is a new and exciting Australian based initiative that gives you a free and easy way to get rid of your unwanted things and find items you need. It’s a great website that promotes sustainable living through reuse, recycling and reduction of landfill.

Scoodi’s functional and easy to use design makes it simple for every one to use, leaving no excuse for anyone to take that step towards a more sustainable lifestyle. We all want to make a contribution to our community and reduce our impact on the environment.

Scoodi has been created just for this reason.Scoodi is simple, fast and convenient. Posting your items on the site, with a full description and as many photos as you need, takes less than 5 minutes and best of all – it’s FREE.

Finding stuff is just as easy. You’re not bound to any one location, so you can search for a bike for your niece within 5km from her address or a cordless drill within walking distance of your home!Our innovative ‘act-local’ technology is about promoting sustainability through local action and community building,’ says Richard HobsonYou never know what you might find. So why not give it a go.Visit and start hunting today!

Simon Turner

Daintree Eco Lodge and Spa Wins World Travel Award

eco-lodge.jpgA boutique eco-lodge situated amongst the dense tropical rainforest of Far North Queensland was announced as the World’s Leading Eco-Lodge in the World Green Category at the 14th World Travel Awards (WTA).

The WTA is a well established and recognised travel award – ‘the Oscars’ of the industry if you will. The Daintree Eco Lodge competed in the first ever “World Green” category alongside resorts and hotels from all across the world, including Egypt and Peru. The Daintree Eco Lodge was the only Australian nominee to take home a prize.

“Eco-friendly practices are really paving the way of the future and for a green category to be finally introduced this year, I think that it goes to show that the discerning and experiential traveller is really looking for an intelligent luxury,” says Eco Lodge co-founder Cathy Maloney.

Daintree Eco Lodge and Spa

Simon Turner