Archive for May, 2011

In-Home Displays for Energy Management

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on May 31st, 2011

From “Origin of an energy revolution” by Giles Parkinson:

The roll-out of in-house display systems for energy use promises to revolutionise the way the consumers understand and consume energy.  Origin, the largest retailer in the country, has kicked it off by announcing the largest pilot scheme of in-home displays in Australia – one that will involve 5,000 households over the next six months. But the rollout has far greater implications than consumer experience: it also promises to revolutionise the way that energy utilities conduct their business.

A report released last year by Ernst & Young entitled Seeing Energy Differently described the challenge facing energy utilities in dealing with the providers of new “smart technology” and responding to the demands of improved efficiency. Basically it came down to two options: either the utilities form partnerships with third parties to help consumers manage their energy and evolve the model into a new, sophisticated form of energy service; or they stonewall and come under competitive attack all along the value chain.

Origin has chosen as its partner the Colorado-based Tendril, which provides an in-home display that allows customers “unprecedented visibility” into energy usage, personalised estimates of monthly electricity bills and the ability to control household consumption. It allows communications over the web, mobile phone and home area networks, and can link with smart appliances and electric vehicles. And, of course, the energy company can see this information too.

Exactly how that business model will evolve is not yet clear because there are so many different factors that can still be brought to bear. But for Australian energy consumers, in-house displays – which look something like the dashboard displays in your car – are not far away. After the six-month pilot, Origin intends to then roll out the displays to all its 4.6 million customers – although the extent to which this can happen will depend on the rollout of the underlying infrastructure, which in this case is smart meters.

Craig [Phil Craig, the head of retail at Origin Energy] says that by the end of the decade, consumers can expect to have smart appliances in their home that can respond to a pricing signal and turn themselves off. There will be charge points in the garage where the plug-in electric vehicle can choose the best time to charge itself, or even send electrons back into the grid. And, says Davis [sic], there could be much larger solar systems on our homes.

“It will be a whole different model. Energy will be a more engaging product, people will be more interested and more actively thinking about it. We have got to try and stay ahead of the trends, adapt and try to understand what the new business model looks like.”

And the cost? The rollout of smart meters has gotten bad press, because so far it has involved higher electricity bills with little ability to modify behaviour.

Craig says the in-home displays should change those dynamics. But the cost that people will be paying in years to come will be governed as much by generation and network costs, as it will by in home displays. And other factors will also come into play, such as solar, which will be more economically viable and could lead to larger systems. “It depends how people react. But we will be putting power into the hands of consumers, so if they want to do something about it, they can change the nature of their consumption.”

Read the full article by Giles Parkinson on Climate Spectator.

A quick search seems to indicate that the In-Home Displays (IHD) are being offered to households in the Australian Government’s Solar Cities program – below are a couple of links for more information. KA


Lock the Gate: Campaign Against Coal Seam Gas

Posted in Events by Mark Ogge on May 30th, 2011

6 June , 2011
6:30 pmto8:00 pm

Drew Hutton is a professional historian and environmental activist, co-authoring History of the Australian Environment Movement in 1999. He is now lead campaigner for Lock the Gate – a peaceful, non-cooperation campaign against mining companies – for Friends of the Earth.  The Six Degrees collective of Friends of the Earth, Brisbane has been campaigning against open cut coal mining on agricultural land and environmentally sensitive areas for over two years and, more recently, calling for a moratorium on coal seam gas development. Drew will join us via Skype to discuss coal seam gas mining.

Time: 6:30- 8pm Monday 6 June 2011

Location: The Wood Theatre, ECONOMICS & COMMERCE (Building 148) Room:G09 ground floor. Enter building by main foyer (opposite Old Arts). (Theatre entrance is off the foyer and is clearly sign posted) University of Melbourne, Parkville VIC

Thank you to the University of Melbourne Energy Research Institute, our Zero Carbon Australia project partners for joining us in bringing you this event.
Entry: Gold coin donation

Further reading:…………

EcoStore Founder @ Melbourne Sustainability Drinks

Posted in Events by Kate Archdeacon on May 27th, 2011

1 June , 2011
6:00 pmto8:00 pm


Malcolm Rands is the Founder and CEO of Ecostore Company Limited. Since 1994, ecostore have researched and brought to market NZ’s leading range of healthy, eco friendlier household cleaners, body care, pet care and organic gardening products. Products that look after the health of the users as well as the planet. ecostore products are now available in all supermarkets and health stores throughout NZ, as well as in over 1000 supermarkets in Australia, outlets in Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, the UK, and supermarket chains in the USA including 150 stores on Manhattan Island NYC. ecostore is currently a Deloitte Fast 50 company and was the 2009 NZ Sustainable Business of the Year.

Malcolm has been awarded the Green Ribbon Award from the Ministry for the Environment, plus two environmental awards from the Auckland Regional Council. Known for two years as the weekly “ecoman’ on TV1’s Good Morning Show, he gave advice on how to ‘green up’ your life. He continues to be a frequent media commentator and regular radio guest on both sides of the Tasman. Malcolm has been added to the World Class NZ international network and is the chair of the Fairground Foundation the sister not for profit organisation of ecostore.

Having been active in the sustainable scene for over 25 years, Malcolm co-founded NZ’s first permaculture eco-village in 1986, and was a foundation member of the sustainable business network. Malcolm will be sharing the key events and motivations in his journey so far, mistakes made and what not to do! He will also share his insights into when the public will buy into the sustainability journey!

We look forward to seeing you on Wednesday the 1st June from 6 – 8pm.

Details and RSVP on the Melbourne Sustainability Drinks website.

National Day of Action: Support a Carbon Price

Posted in Events by Kate Archdeacon on May 26th, 2011

5 June , 2011
11:00 amto1:00 pm

National Day of Action: Melbourne

Over the next few weeks the Government will decide whether to be ambitious when setting their carbon price and investments in renewable energy, or whether to give in to the big polluters. As we’ve seen before, often the loudest voice wins. That’s where you come in. We have one thing the opponents of a carbon price don’t: people power. We’re joining with organisations that together represent over three million Australians to organise massive rallies across the country on June 5. But people power is like a muscle: if you don’t use it, you lose it. Can you join us on June 5 for a fun, family-friendly rally to say “yes” to a price on pollution and clean energy?

Come along to the family friendly National Day of Action and show the government that the Australian community supports real and effective action to solve climate change. You can RSVP on the Get Up site.

On June 5 – come along to the State Library of Victoria at 11am. Say ‘Yes’ to cutting carbon pollution and to a cleaner Australia!

Photo: Walk Against Warming, 2009, © Get Up! Action for Australia

Water Sensitive Cities: Winter School

Posted in Events, Research by Kate Archdeacon on May 25th, 2011

11 July , 2011 9:00 amto15 July , 2011 5:30 pm

The Water Sensitive Cities Winter School is a unique opportunity to hear from Australia’s leading researchers and thought-leaders on key actions in delivering water sensitive and liveable cities. Lectures and workshops will present latest solutions and concepts on required technologies for stormwater treatment, urban design and modelling, climate change adaptation, behavioural change, and social and government engagement. These cross disciplinary topics will all be linked to broader urban sustainability issues and lessons from the international community.

Many of today’s societal challenges may be classified as wicked problems where it is often inappropriate to reduce these problems to a perceived single dimension for which a solution is developed. The perceptions of the causes of these challenges differ from one discipline to another and yet they are all relevant. We now recognise the complex dynamics of the socio-technical dimensions of challenges we face today and our cities are expressions of our efforts in solving many of these wicked problems. Water management in our cities plays a key role in defining and shaping our cities’ future prosperity and well-being, as almost every aspect of our urban environment and quality of life is affected by the way we manage urban water.

Visit the Water Sensitive Cities program for the brochure, or Clearwater to register for the event.

Early Bird Registration closes May 31.

CarrotMob at Melbourne Uni: Right Now

Posted in Events by Kate Archdeacon on May 24th, 2011

24 May , 2011
12:00 pmto2:00 pm

Using Treated Stormwater for Vegies

Posted in Models, Research by Kate Archdeacon on May 24th, 2011

Source: Clearwater

From “Is treated stormwater safe for growing food?“:

Treated stormwater is safe to use on your household vegetable patch according to a new report by the Centre for Water Sensitive Cities at Monash University. The study found that vegetables watered with treated stormwater, normally associated with having strong levels of heavy metals such as lead, and increased pollutants, were just as safe to eat as vegetables irrigated from mains water supplies.

Dr David McCarthy from the Centre for Water Sensitive Cities said that two major findings emerged from the study. “We found that using treated stormwater did not noticeably increase the level of contamination in the vegetables when compared with those irrigated with the mains water. Secondly, it seemed that the most likely route of pollutants entering the vegetables was through the soil or possibly through the atmosphere”, Dr David McCarthy said.

These findings were presented by Dr David McCarthy at a recent Clearwater event with project funding by the Smart Water Fund.

Click here to view a copy of the presentation which is available on our [Clearwater] website or for more information visit the Centre for Water Sensitive Cities.

The Clothing Exchange celebrating 6 years in Melbourne

Posted in Movements by JulietteA on May 20th, 2011

It wasn’t long ago that spending an evening mid week swapping clothes in a laneway bar was thought as totally out of the ordinary, perhaps even strange. 6 years later The Clothing Exchange is now part of the fabric of our sustainable city having challenged the status quo of how Melbournians acquire ‘new’ clothing. Thousands of swappers have enjoyed our events, which can now be enjoyed in cities across Australia. On June 1st we will be celebrating the last 6 years of sustainable progress by holding our Birthday Swap at Loop Bar in Melbourne. Bring along up to 6 items of clothing that you value but no longer wear to swap for ones that you will. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased here.

Students Of Sustainability: Camping Conference

Posted in Events by Kate Archdeacon on May 20th, 2011

6 July , 2011to10 July , 2011

Sustainable Energy At What Cost? Seminar

Posted in Events by Kate Archdeacon on May 19th, 2011

25 May , 2011
6:30 pmto8:30 pm

Sustainable Energy At What Cost? Presented by The Grattan Institute

The debate on how to make the transition from the current carbon intensive energy system to one that is sustainable and low-carbon largely centers on cost. This seminar will explore various zero or low-carbon technologies, the cost of bringing them online and what people will end up paying for their electricity under the different scenarios. Experts from industry and academia will also investigate what carbon pricing signal will promote the best long term strategy, other complementary mechanisms we might need, and what impact these might have on the economy.

The Melbourne Energy Institute’s Renewable Energy Technology Cost Review, prepared for the Garnaut Review Update, will be launched at this seminar. This report looks at how innovation in wind and solar energy production will shape the future cost of zero-carbon technologies.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011 from 6:30 – 8:30

Sidney Myer Asia Centre
Carrillo Gantner Theatre
The University of Melbourne


Mr Robyn Williams AM, Science Journalist, The Science Show, ABC


Mr Patrick Hearps, Energy Research Fellow, Melbourne Energy Institute
Mr Andrew Stock, Executive General Manager, Origin Energy Australia
Mr Terry Teoh, Power Project Development, Pacific Hydro


Prof Mary O’Kane, NSW Chief Scientist and Scientific Engineer and Chair, Australian Centre for Renewable Energy
Mr Ric Brazzale, Managing Director, Green Energy Trading
Dr Jenny Hayward, Research Scientist, Energy Technology, CSIRO
Mr Tristan Edis, Energy Research Fellow, Grattan Institute

Bookings and event link here.