Sun, sun, sun…here it comes!

By Stella Robison

And we’re not just talking about summer that’s around the corner, but solar energy.

It truly is a hot topic! Renewable energy like solar power as well as using energy wisely can help alleviate climate change.  According to the IPCC report keeping the global temperature to 1.5 degrees is vital to combat global warming.

This issue of our newsletter showcases inspiring local energy initiatives.Check the student-led ‘solar revolution’ of the Inner West and learn about the forward thinking students approaching the mayor; have a look at Alfalfa house’s energy makeover and activities for their Open Day. We met with their manager and their sustainability and outreach working group convenor to chat about this and to be part of this local initiative  and you might be interested to hear about the  Inner West Council’s efforts to become a leader in renewable energy, and an ‘ecologically sustainable Inner West by 2036 by getting a contract to purchase renewable energy from the Moree Solar Farm covering almost all of Council’s daytime electricity use.

To get you started on your energy smart journey, here are some inspiring videos, ideas and innovative local initiatives.  The Green Living Centre has organised activities to help you in your journey. Book in one of our Solar Assessments, Intro to Solar, SolaCity Game and Energy Know How.

Here comes…
Inner West student-led ‘solar revolution’

Who said Millenials don’t care about current world issues? The forward-thinking Sydney Student Leaders Coalition (SSLC) from Inner West Sydney have approached Mayor Darcy Byrne and gained support for solar power in local schools.  This is an amazing achievement!

The Sydney Student Leaders Coalition is formed by students from years 11 and 12 of Inner West schools.  They campaign for revolutionary changes that will benefit young people.  “We want schools to be using technology like solar and renewable energy to basically be adapting to the 21st century world,” says SSLC member, Harvey Hayes from Tempe High. “SSLC believe all schools should be powered entirely by solar power” as there are many benefits of renewable energy (especially environmental and economic).

The way it works is: once schools have 50% of funding for installing solar panels, the state government meets the rest of the cost to purchase the panels.  Council is getting closer to its goal in being a leader in renewable energy by empowering proactive young people.  Mayor Byrne said, “the Inner West community was fortunate to be the breeding ground for a generation of environmentally aware and active young people.”

The SSLC will develop a step-by-step guide, contacts and toolkits in installing solar panels.  This will be made available on the SSLC website to help other schools and their communities wanting to be part of the solar revolution.

Keep an eye on their Facebook and be prepared to be inspired!

Alfalfa House gets an energy makeover

Those who have been to Alfalfa House over the years (36 years and counting) know how dependable this community-based cooperative is in providing ethical and eco-friendly organic food and household items.

The Green Living Centre met with Cameron Burgess (Convenor of the Sustainability and Outreach working group at Alfalfa House) and Maurice Cabrera (Alfalfa House Manager) to chat about the recent energy makeover at the community co-op and energy saving practices amongst other things.Alfalfa House received a NSW Government Community Building Partnership (CBP) grant and recently finished upgrading their food delivery and storage systems, which meant updating out-of-date, energy inefficient refrigeration and freezers.

Thanks to the CBP grant, Alfalfa House now has three brand new freezers and storage fridges, which even enable things like the storage of loose/package-free frozen berries! Currently over 70% of items sold at Alfalfa House are zero-waste and free of packaging. The CBP grant also allowed for the redesign of the shop front and refurbishment of the outdoor sheds.

Cameron shared that Alfalfa House has recently switched energy supplier to one of the Australia’s greenest ones. He also added, “this means that all of our electricity is carbon neutral and we’re also supporting renewable energy initiatives in Australia, , we try to minimise electricity usage in the shop.”

In the cooler months Alfalfa House avoid running air conditioning and carry out regular maintenance of air conditioners and appliances to ensure these are running efficiently. Alfalfa Houses’ makeover, the new energy saving practices and changing to a green energy provider appear to have drastically reduced their energy bill. “We’re still waiting on more data from our next energy bill, but at this stage, compared to the same quarter last year, we’ve reduced our energy bill by around 40%,” said Cameron.

Reducing food miles and buying seasonal, local produce is an important aim for Alfalfa House; thereby reducing their customers’ carbon footprint and environmental impact. Displaying the origin of all products allows members and visitors to Alfalfa House to identify where their food comes from and how it is produced. When sourcing produce, Store Manager Maurice establishes relationships with small businesses from NSW and nearby states, thereby reducing food miles, supporting small farmers and social enterprises with great sustainability goals.

Currently Alfalfa House has over 90 volunteers and over 3000 members.  Their main purpose is to benefit their members.When you become a member you get a 10% discount when you shop; and 25% discount when you volunteer at the shop.  It also relies on volunteers who might be interested in shop keeping, admin, compost collection, gardening, laundry, recycling, social media, website, window cleaning, worm farm maintenance, events, sustainability, etc.

Award-winning Alfalfa house focuses on providing the community with knowledge and know-how on sustainable, zero-waste and ethical living by running workshops on a regular basis.

Come check out the Alfalfa House Open Day coming up this Sunday and see the new energy makeover for yourself and also take part in the fantastic 30 minute workshops, talks and free tastings! The Green Living Centre will also be there!

Find more info about the Alfalfa House Open Day on their Facebook page
Sunday, 21 October
9:45am to 2:00pm

Solar Survey

If you have you installed solar panels on your roof in the last 2 years we would love to hear from you!
Please complete this 2 minute survey to help us increase solar uptake in the Inner West.