Archive for April, 2010

Your sustainable transport guide: Business

Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on April 30th, 2010

Source: GreenRazor, the GreenPages Newsletter

Your Sustainable Transport Guide: how to drive better transport decisions for your business

As strong advocates for sustainable transport, Greenfleet and The Net Balance Foundation have teamed up to develop Your Sustainable Transport Guide, to help businesses take action to reduce their transport footprint.  The Guide was developed as a practical ‘how to’ guide, offering suggestions that any business can implement now, as well as examples highlighting ways that some businesses have already taken action in this area.

The Guide is written in four parts:

1. Generic Principles and Approach – high level discussion and framework

2. The Approach in Detail – more extensive information, examples and hints

3. Quick Guide for Sustainable Transport – a checklist of suggestions

4. Summary of Resources – an internet reference guide

Visit the website to read more or download the Guide.

Electric Cars: Not good enough

Posted in Opinion by Kate Archdeacon on April 29th, 2010

Source: Going Solar Transport Newsletter

“There’s no quick fix to either the energy shortage or climate change. In the longer term, we’re all going to have to use less energy, and that means smaller houses, less plastic junk that we don’t really need and less wasted trips in our cars.”

From Electric Cars a Major Environmental Threat:

Despite their ‘green’ image, electric cars are often less efficient and more polluting than the petrol cars they replace, according to a major report released today [23-03-10].  The 168-page report, titled The Emperor’s New Car, is described as a ‘long-overdue reality check’ by its author, car expert Clive Matthew-Wilson. The report was prepared in consultation with several internationally-recognised energy experts.  Matthew-Wilson, who edits the car buyers’ Dog & Lemon Guide, says:  “The car industry is selling a false image of efficient, environmentally-friendly electric cars powered by ‘green’ energy. In reality, electric cars often aren’t very efficient and aren’t very green.”

The report was highly critical of the iconic Tesla electric sports car, which has become the international symbol of chic, environmentally-responsible motoring.  “The Tesla is actually not very efficient at all. Most of Tesla’s publicity focuses on the efficiency of its electric motor. What they don’t tell you is that its batteries are heavy, inefficient and that Teslas are frequently powered by electricity from highly polluting power stations.”

“Despite what most people believe, a high percentage of the world’s electricity is produced using dirty fuels like coal. This isn’t going to change anytime soon; in fact, the widespread introduction of electric cars will probably increase the world’s reliance on coal in order to keep up with the increased demand for electricity.”

“Claims that electric cars are ‘emissions-free’ are simply a lie; they merely transfer the pollution from the road to the power station. Not only will electric cars not reduce emissions, they may actually increase emissions, because burning coal to make electricity to power an electric car creates more pollution than if you simply powered the same vehicle using petrol.”

“Renewable energy sources may be growing fast, but they’re still a tiny percentage of the world’s electricity supply and they’ll stay that way for the foreseeable future, because renewable energy sources tend to be far more expensive than fossil fuels.”
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Inspire Meaningful Change Through Game Design: Competition

Posted in Seeking by Kate Archdeacon on April 28th, 2010

Image: rockmixer via flickr CC

Design 21: Social Design Network is Looking for the Next ‘Game Changer’

Crises tend to have a bad connotation, but they can also act as catalysts for change. Seeing the flip side of the recession as a chance to start over, DESIGN 21 – an online platform founded by Felissimo and UNESCO to promote better design for the greater good – developed the Game Changers competition. Creatives from across the globe are invited to design a game that creates change by improving lives or inspiring new behaviors. DESIGN 21 will award $3,000 to the winning ideas.

Although the world has been rocked by a deep recession, it has forced many to reset priorities and rethink the future creatively. The design industry is a fitting example and throughout history has responded to troubled times by adopting new materials, technologies and thought processes. According to Felissimo Director and DESIGN 21 Founder Haruko Smith, “We created the Game Changers competition as a means for our global network of designers to spur positive and meaningful change in the world.”

Entrants are asked to develop an idea and design a game that improves lives or inspires new behaviors whether for an individual, group or community. It can involve teaching new life skills or proposing a more sustainable way of living, working or interacting with others. Digital and traditional forms of games are accepted and can involve any number of players as long as it includes an element of fun. Entries must be illustrated and accompanied by a clear description.

Members of DESIGN 21’s Advisory Board will judge the submissions based on creativity, practicality, quality, aesthetic appeal and overall effectiveness. Two designers will be awarded $2,000 and $1,000 for first and second place, respectively.

Deadline for entries: May 11, 2010

For more information, please visit:

Renewable Energy Strategy

Posted in Events by Mark Ogge on April 27th, 2010

A monthly discussion group hosted by Beyond Zero Emissions focusing on energy solutions to climate change, held on the first Monday of every month.

May’s guest speaker: Hans-Josef Fell

Hans-Josef Fell is a Green party member of German Parliament who has been one of the driving forces behind establishing the German renewable energy Feed-in-tariff. He drafted the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG in German), and its subsequent amendments, which has led to a dramatic rise in the development and implementation of renewables such as wind and solar power within Germany.  The EEG has since provided a model for other countries pursuing renewable energy and emissions reductions. For his efforts he has been awarded numerous environmental and industry prizes in Germany.

Hans-Josef Fell has also founded the Energy Watch Group an association of independent researchers and economics experts who are in the process of developing sustainable concepts to secure our global energy supply. Energy Watch Group research concluded that the world had passed global Peak Oil several years ago.

Mr Fell will be discussing his advocacy, lobbying and policy work, with a focus on the development of his new climate change strategy. Hans-Josef Fell will be appearing via Skype. Special thanks to University of Melbourne, Office of Environmental Programs for supporting us in bringing you this event.

Date: 6.30pm, Monday 3 May 2010
Event location: Sunderland Theatre, MEDICAL BUILDING-Rm:C216-Flr:2, University of Melbourne.

Smart Water Conference: Presentations Online

Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on April 26th, 2010

Source: Smart Water Fund

Presentations from the inaugural Smart Water Conference are now available for download.  The Smart Water Conference presentations offer an insight into the projects and topics discussed and are an invaluable resource for anyone interested in undertaking water saving projects.

Held in October 2009, the inaugural conference provided a platform for knowledge transfer in the water industry and gave attendees an opportunity to meet innovators in the water management and research fields.  The conference featured 18 speakers across three different topic streams, from a range of industries and sectors, including science and technology, industry and business, and community, education and social science.  Each project discussed has received funding and support from the Smart Water Fund to provide new learnings into water conservation, water recycling and biosolids management.

Keep an eye on the Smart Water Fund website for vodcasts of the conference presentations, which will be made available soon.

3rd Victorian Sustainable Development Conference

Posted in Events by Kate Archdeacon on April 23rd, 2010

Image: avlxyz via flickr CC

The 3rd Victorian Sustainable Development Conference will be held on May 25-26, 2010 at Zinc, Federation Square, Melbourne.

The Conference will be solution-oriented, bringing together key decision-makers from the private and public sectors, industry leaders, local government, scientists, conservationists and others to discuss ways in which to achieve real and lasting change in areas such as:

  • Water
  • Waste and resource recovery
  • Energy efficiency
  • Climate change response
  • Planning and urban design
  • Land remediation
  • Air quality
  • Human health
  • Sustainable workplaces

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Sustainable Agriculture Flagship: CSIRO

Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on April 22nd, 2010

Source: Cleanfood, the Future Climate newsletter

CSIRO’s National Research Flagships tackle Australia’s major research challenges and opportunities through large-scale multidisciplinary partnerships.    The Sustainable Agriculture Flagship’s goal is to secure Australian agriculture and forest industries by increasing productivity by 50% and reducing carbon emissions intensity by at least 50% between now and 2030.

CSIRO’s research brings together many different scientific disciplines to address the economic, environmental and social sustainability of agriculture and forestry.  Australian agriculture and forestry are entering an era where it must cope with rapidly changing global markets for commodities, changes to water allocations, rising input costs, skills deficiencies, environmental pressures and meet consumer expectations for sustainable land management and healthy, ethical food production.  These land use goals cannot be simply traded off against each other.

The national challenge for the Flagship is to develop rural land use systems that deliver the highest value benefits to the Australian economy and society and address the major global issues of food security and greenhouse gas abatement.

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Health benefits of ‘grow your own’ food in urban areas: Research paper

Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on April 21st, 2010

Source: SustainWeb

Research Paper: The health benefits of ‘grow your own’ food in urban areas: implications for contaminated land risk assessment and risk management? by Jonathan R Leake, Andrew Adam-Bradford, Janette E Rigby

This paper, by researchers from University of Sheffield, demonstrates that although urban environments are more contaminated by heavy metals, arsenic, polyaromatic hydrocarbons and dioxins than most rural agricultural areas, evidence is lacking for adverse health outcomes of growing your own (GYO) in UK urban areas. By contrast, the health benefits of GYO are a direct counterpoint to the escalating public health crisis of ‘obesity and sloth’ caused by eating an excess of saturated fats, inadequate consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables combined with a lack of exercise.

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UNAA World Environment Day Awards 2010

Posted in Seeking by UNAAVictoria on April 20th, 2010

The United Nations Association of Australia (UNAA) is a non-profit, non-government organization dedicated to promoting the objectives of the United Nations through its World Environment Day Awards, Media Peace Awards and Model United Nations Education Program.  The annual World Environment Day Awards were established by the Association in 2000. The Awards seek to focus community attention on the environment, and in particular on positive programs that are working towards protecting or restoring the world’s natural heritage.  Each year, the United Nations selects a theme for World Environment Day. This year has been declared as the International Year of Biodiversity and global citizens are urged to take action to safeguard the variety of life on earth.

You can take action and get involved by nominating for the World Environment Day Awards in 2010. There are a broad range of award categories providing opportunities for businesses, local governments, schools, community groups, individuals and the media to gain recognition for their environmental initiatives and achievements. Categories include:

  • Virgin Blue Business Awards
  • Department of Sustainability and Environment Biodiversity Award
  • WSP Lincolne Scott Sustainability Leadership Award
  • Szencorp Green Building Award
  • Local Government Awards
  • Meeting the Greenhouse Challenge Award
  • Media Award for Environmental Reporting
  • Excellence in Marine and Coastal Management
  • Community Award
  • Individual Award
  • Education/School Award
  • Excellence in Sustainable Water Management
Nominations close on May 14.

For further information or to download nomination forms go to or contact the office on: (03) 9670 7878 / email:

Distributed rainwater tank system: viable for new houses

Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on April 16th, 2010

Source: Smart Water Fund

CERES has demonstrated the viability of a distributed rainwater tank system for small buildings with surrounding gardens.  CERES received a Smart Water Fund grant in 2006 to install a water catchment and retrieval system using rainwater tanks.  The project aimed to educate people on water tank systems that could be applied to a community of houses, such as a housing estate.  “Our system consists of a number of small above ground tanks located next to buildings, with one central underground tank,” said project manager Stephen Mushin. “Rainwater is collected in the local tanks from each roof onsite and stored for irrigation of surrounding gardens.”

“Overflow from the localised tanks is collected in a 50,000 litre central underground tank, from which water can be retrieved using a solar pump to a header tank,” he said.  According to Mr Mushin, the system may work well when applied to a community of houses, such as housing subdivisions where there are several roofs in close proximity.  “The system is suitable for sites with multiple buildings that have localised watering needs,” he said.

“There is potential for this kind of system to be applied to community housing in a cost effective way. This kind of water installation will save residents money and reduce their impact on the environment.”

CERES is a public park on a nine acre, government-owned site. About 150 staff are involved in education, organic farming and other environment and sustainability projects to encourage a sustainable society.

For more information on CERES and its sustainable projects, visit: