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BREAZE Inc. is delighted to have Sowmya Nargaraj on board as  Project Manager of the Grampians Community Power Hub. Sowmya, who has Masters in Engineering (Sustainable Energy) RMIT, previously worked as a coordinator for the Victorian Healthy Homes program, helping to make homes more energy efficient and cutting GHG emissions. She brings both expertise and experience in the renewable energy sector to the G-CPH team. As she explains below, her passion for climate action goes back to her childhood:

"Since being a little girl, I’ve seen the environment around me change very drastically and have experienced a feeling of helplessness surround me when I first learnt about climate change and how our activities are contributing majorly to the deterioration of the planet. 

The lack of Climate Crisis awareness and Energy Equity in the Australian community has become even more evident while delivering the Victorian Healthy Homes Project at AEF. Bridging these gaps by bringing awareness and investigating opportunities to address them has been a goal of mine as I strongly believe that they can become a reality when everyone works together to have a cleaner and greener environment to live in.

When I came across this opportunity, I was very keen to express my interest in the role as I believe that I would be able to actively contribute to our communities becoming more resilient and further equipped to tackle the Climate issues. "

As an Engineer in Sustainable Energy, Sowmya brings valuable technical know how and will be undertaking feasibility studies for the G-CPH as well as assisting in the earlier stages of assessing the viability of projects identified in the community engagement process. 

Having Sowmya on board as Project Manager means more time for community engagement for the team of BREAZE volunteers, which includes, Peter Boadle, Paul Duggan, Mary Debrett plus mentorship from the 2017-2020 Ballarat CPH Project Control Group, also hosted by BREAZE,  Peter Reid, Ian Rossiter and Ross Irving.

Sowmya and the BREAZE team will also be assisted by a newly appointed part-time Communications and Administration Officer.

IMG 0442Already known to many in Ballarat as the Host of BREAZE's Smart Living Ballarat Talks program, the Hub's newly appointed Communications and Administrative Officer, Sam Rodgers, has a Bachelor of Environmental Science (Sustainability Management) and is also accomplished in media/communications and events coordination. Sam previously held the position of Sustainability Officer, with Wyndham City Council and is a terrific asset to the G-CPH team.


Sustainable HomeThe Australian energy and climate change provisions of our National Construction Code (NCC) are currently being updated after an 11 year long hiatus.  While you might have thought that the IPCC's AR6 report calling a Code Red for emissions reductions would make it a no-brainer to update the NCC and mandate that all new homes be designed and constructed to be zero emissions, particularly when it's simple and cost-effective to do so.  From day one, a net zero home reduces energy costs by far more than the tiny increases it might mean to mortgage costs, providing a more comfortable and healthy home equipped with rooftop solar and low energy overheads.

The only stakeholders not to benefit from mandating zero emission homes are the energy suppliers so even a modest improvement to the NCC energy efficiency requirements is facing opposition.  We HAVE to demand better from our State and Territory governments that legislate and enforce the NCC.

More details available on the Zero Emissions Homes website and facebook page. We want as many signatures as possible on our petition to the Building Ministers Meeting and to flood the email box of our respective State and Territory Planning, Environment, Energy and Climate Change Ministers urging them to adopt a net zero mandate for each State or Territory and ideally for the whole nation as the National Construction Code.  Our easy to use letter template is here.  Watch the video to lean more.

 MDThis month as we move closer to the beginning of the Glasgow CoP 26, described by many commentators as our last chance for averting catastrophic climate change, the lack of any climate action policy at federal level continues. Even as global financial markets respond to international efforts to decarbonise, including the previously recalcitrant Australian Business Council, which has at last acknowledged the need to break with fossil fuels. Those endorsing Australia's potential to be a renewables superpower may have seen some signs of hope in moves to establish several green hydrogen hubs and renewable energy zones around the nation, which will enable the production of green steel, green aluminium, and reduce costs for manufacturing, driving new fields of green employment. Despite the lack of movement on bipartisan  climate action at federal level, activists continue to drive local government action – the City of Boroondara – which encompasses much of the electorate of Kooyong, the seat of the Treasurer, Josh Frydenburg – recently endorsed the Declaration of Climate Emergency.

Big steps and small steps all help in moving the tide of public opinion towards climate action.


Smart Living Ballarat online talk: Wednesday, October 20, 2021 at 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm -  'Waste, Recycling and Circular Economy'

To mark Recycling Week, the City of Ballarat Waste Services Team will share recycling protocols for the yellow-lid recycling bin which reduces waste to landfill. The talk will also canvas current Circular Economy initiatives and the future vision for Circular Infrastructure Hub in BWEZ.

Please register  - To join live and be able to participate in the Q+A, for the Zoom presentation.  This event will be presented via Zoom and streamed live onto the Smart Living Ballarat Facebook page. Log on via

A recording of the event will be available on the Smart Living Ballarat Facebook page instantly after the event.


BREAZE Talks - 3rd Friday of the Month 10:15 am on Radio 3BA's Ballarat Today with Brett McDonald

BREAZE Board member, Suzanne Nunn spoke with Brett on the 22nd of October on the topic of Climate change as cultural change: Adapting to new circumstances,  focusing on Ballarat City Council's newly launched circular economy program. Suzanne, a lecturer in the Faculty of Arts and Education at Deakin University. She works with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander practitioners who work on and for Country. She also teaches into anthropology and sociology. 

Grampians Community Power Hub (G-CPH)

The G-CPH Project Control Group –consisting of three BREAZE Inc. volunteers, Peter Boadle, Mary Debrett and Paul Duggan, Hepburn Wind manager, Taryn Lane (Hepburn Branch Partner) and Sustainability Victoria's Grampians regional coordinator, John van Rooden – has been meeting on a weekly basis since August to discuss potential projects. In September, BREAZE made two appointments: a Project Manager for the Hub, Sowmya Nargaraj,  and a part time Communications/Administrative Officer, Sam Rodgers. Sowmya, who has a Bachelor of Engineering (Electronics) and a Master of Engineering (Sustainable Energy) has broad range of professional and volunteer experience in the clean energy sector. Sam, as many of you will know, has been coordinating and hosting the Smart Living Ballarat talks program, and has previously held the position of Sustainability Officer, with Wyndham City Council. She has a Bachelor of Environmental Science (Sustainability Management) and a Diploma of Business management and Human Resources. She is also accomplished in media/communications and events coordination.

In September the Grampians Community Power Hub held its first Community Energy Forum which featured a number of local community energy experts talking about community projects they were involved with. Over 60 participants from across the region logged on to listen and take part in the Q&A.  If you missed it you can view the video on the BREAZE Youtube Channel

The next G-CPH Community Energy Forum will be held on 18 November at 7:30 -8:30, when we'll have a number of community partners talking about projects they have been involved in. This forum will also be an opportunity for us to introduce the Hub's new Project Manager, Sowmya Nargaraj.

The G-CPH is canvassing communities across the 11 local government areas of the Grampians region to identify community energy projects. The aim of the G-CPH is to accelerate the region's clean energy transition by developing a pipeline of shovel ready projects. This project is delivered by Sustainability Victoria on behalf of the Victorian Government.

Board Meetings

If you have a passion for climate action and ideas about how you can help BREAZE achieve its mission, please note BREAZE members are welcome to attend monthly Board meetings. Any member interested in attending should email me – 

PLEASE NOTE: the BREAZE Inc 2021 Annual General Meeting on 15 November will be held via Zoom due to Covid restrictions.  We will be sending out the agenda and an invitation to attend to all members. Our guest speaker will be Ed Riley, Principal Strategic Planner with the City of Ballarat.

All the best


Mary Debrett
President, October 2021                                                                       






OctoberAre you unsure about what to put into your kerbside recycling? Do you want to reduce your waste to landfill but unsure where to start? Ever since the waste crisis in 2018 recycling has become a whole lot more confusing. To add to this, many local government areas have different contractors who collect and manage their waste. This month we will be talking to the City of Ballarat about how we can work together to reduce waste and recycle better.

The City of Ballarat Waste Services Team will be joining us on Wednesday 20 October to share the importance of reducing contamination in the yellow-lid recycling bin and reducing waste to landfill. The volume of waste that is collected from over 48,000 residential properties is a significant amount and this is an opportunity to understand how waste is managed and the importance of separating items into the correct household bins. We will also be exploring the current Circular Economy initiatives and the future vision for Circular Infrastructure Hub in BWEZ.

As mentioned in the latest BREAZE newsletter, the City of Ballarat circular economy plan, Circular Ballarat, was released in early September. This framework will build the foundations required for Ballarat to transition to a strong circular economy and targets the waste from manufacturing including ASPIRE, an online marketplace for businesses to buy, sell or exchange waste and commodities. This is available for most Ballarat businesses for free until July 2022 and we will be chatting to the City of Ballarat’s Waste Education Officer about.

This talk comes just in time for National Recycling Week, held from the 8th to the 14th of November 2021. National Recycling Week is an initiative of Planet Ark, established in 1996. The campaign aims to helps you reduce your waste and recycle right. This year they’re celebrating its 25th anniversary! National Recycling Week stresses the importance of “engaging Australians on closing the recycling loop by buying products made with recycled content, which is vital to creating a sustainable future. We need to rethink our waste and see it as a resource that can be turned into new products. By keeping these materials in circulation for as long as possible, this benefits the environment by reducing the extraction of virgin materials for new products, as well as the water and energy it takes to make them.”

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According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics report for the financial year 2018 -2019:

  • · Australia generated 76 million tonnes of waste, 10% increase since 2016-17
  • · $17 billion spent on waste services, 18% increase since 2016-17
  • · Construction industry spent the most on waste services ($2 billion), 35% increase since 2016-17

This event will be presented via Zoom and streamed live onto the Smart Living Ballarat Facebook page. A recording of the event will be available on the Smart Living Ballarat Facebook page instantly after the event. To join live and be able to participate in the Q+A, please register for the Zoom presentation.

This free talk is hosted by Smart Living Ballarat for BREAZE Inc. in collaboration with the City of Ballarat and is part of a free series of monthly sustainability workshops presented every 3rd Wednesday of the month.

Bonshaw 02In August 2021 BREAZE Inc.Project Manager, Peter Reid, signed off on the final report for DELWP's New Energy Jobs fund grant that enabled BREAZE to install solar and batteries at all four properties of Ballarat-based  Pinarc - Disability Support provider: English Street, Golden Point ; Sturt Street, Ballarat Central; Otway Street South, Ballarat (Pennyweight Park) and Tait Street, Bonshaw. In all BREAZE Inc installed 76kW of solar PV and batteries at every site, totalling 40kWh.

Like many not-for-profit organisations, Pinarc does not have the budgetary flexibility to afford the installation of rooftop solar on its buildings, so this project will deliver energy justice and social benefit, contributing cost reductions and emissions reductions that would have not otherwise have been possible. Continual saving on the cost of electricity purchase will flow to Pinarc because of the installations and these savings will enable Pinarc to expand their current programs.

Blending government support with local initiatives, Pinarc Social Solar, accords with the GNet Roadmap’s recommendations for collaborative action: 'Local organisations can engage with governments and energy companies to establish community benefit programs.'

BREAZE regards enabling access to the cost-benefits of owning solar panels as an opportunity to deliver social justice and climate justice, since charitable institutions do not have the discretionary funds to invest in rooftop solar, in the same way as householders. 

This collaboration also offered an opportunity to assist local Ballarat tradespeople through opening up new possibilities for work, thereby also contributing to the region’s economic recovery.

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Community Energy ForumThe Grampians Community Power Hub is seeking community stakeholders with renewable energy projects in mind – perhaps a solar array on the local community hall, or solar across the roofs of a community-owned kindergarten or retirement village, or interest in solar-sharing via a micro-grid or community battery?  On 29 September our panel of local experts, will be sharing their experiences in the rapidly expanding field of community energy. Register via Eventbrite

Our program of speakers:

        • Host, Paul Duggan: BREAZE Inc. Project Control Group, Grampians CPH. "The Grampians Community Power Hub - what we hope to achieve."
        • Taryn Lane: G-CPH PCG - Manager Hepburn Wind. "Opportunities for community energy in our region - Hepburn Shire and beyond."
        • Ian Rossiter: PCG – Ballarat CPH Pilot 2017-2020 "Working with large institutions to deliver community power projects."
        • Edwin Irvine: President, Natimuk Community Energy "Natimuk Community Engagement - A History"
        • Eddy Ostarcevic: Star Energy, St Arnaud "You want to do what! By when!?! "

The Forum will conclude with a panel discussion as presenters answer questions from the audience


MDCircular Economy Plan Launch

The City of Ballarat's long awaited circular economy plan - Circular Ballarat – was launched online on 9 September with the motto: “re-think, make and re-use”  Targeting re-use of  raw materials from  manufacturing waste-products, the circular economy framework includes three new initiatives aimed at assisting local businesses to participate:

  • ASPIRE – an online marketplace for businesses to buy, sell or exchange waste and commodities. This is available for most Ballarat businesses for free until July 2022 
  • Ready, Set, Grow Circular – a business development program designed to help cast a circular lens over businesses 
  • Materials Flow Analysis – a detailed regional material flows analysis to better understand what resources are used in our economy, where they are sourced, what they are used for, where they are consumed and how businesses manage their waste. This project is supported by the Recycling Victoria Councils Fund, delivered by Sustainability Victoria on behalf of the Victorian Government. 

It's great to see to Council implementing the goals of the Carbon Neutrality and 100% Renewables Action Plan – zero emissions by 2025 (for council operations). Also pleasing to note acknowledgement of BREAZE's Social Solar as a community-led sustainability program. The Circular Economy plan makes strong connections between environmental sustainability and circular economy innovation. Council's next step is the Circular Economy Roadmap. If you want to give feedback, keep your eye on the MySay Ballarat website for community consultation on the Roadmap. The circular economy framework is part of Victoria's state government circular economy initiative

Read more: President's September Report

Sustainable House Day is an annual event that showcases some of Australia’s most sustainable and inspiring homes. With a community of over 400,000 people, Sustainable House Day is a trusted source of expert advice, insight and peer-to-peer education about building, retrofitting or renovating sustainably.

This year we are looking at two Ballarat couple’s that have made their own sustainable dream homes. We will chat to Jess Higgins-Anderson and Bryan Anderson about their owner-built off-grid strawbale house in the bush and Peter and Sandra Hawkins about their all-electric, eco-retrofitted 1990’s brick veneer home in Ballarat East.

A little more about Jess and Bryan

Jess & Bryan met while completing their master’s in music therapy at Melbourne Uni.  Little did they know that 6 years after graduating they would be married, have a toddler and another baby on the way, and have owner-built their own off-grid strawbale house in the bush.  Neither of them had any prior building experience – other than watching their parents do home renos and both being (naively!) optimistic and good researchers. 

Jess had been a long-term Grand Designs addict and had dreamed on and off about having a natural build home of her own one day but had never really thought it would happen.  The couple attended a strawbale workshop with Brian Hodge from Anvil in November 2017 and immediately decided that a, strawbale was the way they wanted to go, and b, they would do everything themselves. 

Three years (two babies and a pandemic) later, they’re finishing off (stage 1) of their owner-built strawbale house near Buninyong, having completed almost everything themselves, without a bank loan (whilst still balancing paid work as therapists and teachers) and learning every new job along the way.

You can follow Jess and Bryan’s story on their blog.

A little more about Sandra and Peter

Sandra and Peter bought their Brick veneer, split level 3-bedroom home, single garage with cathedral ceilings in 2014. The house was built in the early 1990’s as a subdivision of a larger house block.

The original house consisted of gas cooking, hot water and heating, which Sandra and Peter have now replaced with all electric appliances and added rooftop solar panels. Coupled with extensive draught proofing, double glazed windows and insulation, the Hawkins’s home is a sustainably warm and cosy construction.

This event will be presented via Zoom and streamed live onto the Smart Living Ballarat Facebook page. A recording of the event will be available on the Smart Living Ballarat Facebook page instantly after the event.

To join live and be able to participate in the Q+A, please register for the Zoom presentation.

This free talk is hosted by Smart Living Ballarat for BREAZE Inc. in collaboration with the City of Ballarat and is part of a free series of monthly sustainability workshops presented every 3rd Wednesday of the month.

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BREAZE Board member, Sally Missing, who has a professional background as a public health manager, recently spoke to Brett McDonald on Radio 3BA's Ballarat Today about how climate change is likely to impact on our health. You may find some of these impacts surprising. Overall, Sally's conclusion is that Climate Change is ushering in a public health crisis that will upstage the COVID pandemic. Sally has summarised her assessment in this article.

Code red for humanity

UN chief, Antonio Guterres has declared "a code red for humanity" in response to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report that was recently released.  We are all understandably very focussed on COVID-19, but climate change is actually a far bigger threat to our health and wellbeing.

Among other effects, climate change is contributing to:
          • • worsening air quality,
          • • changes in the spread of infectious diseases,
          • • risks to food safety and drinking water quality,
          • • and effects on mental health.
Climate change and health

In Australia we are already seeing the effects of climate change – in particular bushfires and drought.  Most people will immediately think of death and injury from bushfires, storms and floods. This is just the tip of the iceberg. What is less well known is the health impact of heat waves and air pollution from smoke and fossil fuel burning. Even more concerning, the World Health Organisation says that climate change: “threatens the essential ingredients of good health - clean air, safe drinking water, nutritious food supply, and safe shelter.”


In the massive and prolonged 2019-20 bushfires - when the east coast of Australia was in flames for months - 33 people died. What is less well known is that smoke from these fires was linked to more than 445 deaths and more than 4,000 people were admitted to hospital due to the smoke.

The effects of a bushfire are felt for many years afterwards. For every person that has tragically died in our bushfires, many more suffer loss, grief and trauma from losing a family member, friend, work colleague, family pet, home or holiday home. Many people were also displaced from their homes temporarily or permanently. 

Heat stress: Heatwaves and very hot days

Temperature records are breaking around the globe and the northern hemisphere has recently experienced a heatwave. Heatwaves can cause heatstroke (severe hyperthermia) as well as a worsening of existing health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and kidney disease. In Victoria, there were 374 extra deaths during a heatwave in 2009 from 26 January to 1 February.

High temperatures raise the levels of pollutants in the air that affect heart and lung diseases. New research has found that pollutants in smoke billowing from huge wildfires in the west of America have probably caused an increase in COVID-19 infections and deaths across several US states.

Heatwaves particularly affect older people, especially older people living in poor conditions who may not have access to air conditioning. Older people may be less aware of their body’s messages to drink and cool down. 

Pollen and other allergens are also higher in extreme heat. These can trigger asthma. You remember the thunderstorm asthma a few years back in Victoria? Hundreds of people had sudden, severe asthma attacks some of which were fatal, and the ambulance service and hospitals were completely overwhelmed.  This event was unprecedented.

Floods and extreme rainfall are also increasing in frequency and intensity

Severe storms cause loss of life and injury, loss of homes and damage to infrastructure as well as contamination of drinking water leading to gastro outbreaks. 


In Australia, drought puts a huge strain on farmers’ mental and financial wellbeing.  Our dried-up waterways have led to mass fish deaths and poor water quality and affected food production and costs. In poorer countries drought can cause malnutrition and death due to water-related disease such as E. coli, airborne and dust-related disease, mosquito borne diseases such as dengue fever as well as mental health effects and distress.

Mozzies, fleas and ticks

As the planet warms, diseases spread by small creatures such as mozzies, fleas and ticks increase their range.  This means that diseases such as malaria and dengue fever, spread by mozzies, which normally live in the tropics and subtropics will move further north and south. (spreading to new areas, including outbreaks in Europe and southern parts of the United States) Lyme disease, spread by ticks is also likely to become more prevalent and Ross River Fever experienced in parts of Australia appears to be increasing its range. 

Climate change affects some more than others

The poor will be the most affected by climate change.  This includes those that don’t have the resources to move or adapt or pay their way out of difficulties. Areas that have poor emergency infrastructure and medical services are less able to respond to severe weather incidents. Some of the low-lying pacific islands are already feeling the effects. For example: Samoa has a population that mainly lives on the coast.  Their fresh water comes from wells that run from inland mountains down to the coast.  As sea levels rise, their fresh water supply could be over-run with saltwater. 

The mental health impacts of climate change are significant

In the aftermath of dramatic weather events and drought, there is loss, grief and trauma.  In addition, many people feel depression and anxiety about climate change and feel pessimistic about the future.  One way to deal with these feelings is to get involved. Here are some suggestions for what you can do.  Remember: “No one is too small to make a difference” Greta Thunberg. An important lesson of Covid is that what happens on the other side of the world affects us here and vice versa.  The same is true for climate change. Like COVID-19, we all need to do our share, pull together, and look out for each other. 

What you can do
  • Join Breaze or get involved with another local advocacy group.
  • Let your politicians know – especially federal politicians, that you will be voting for action on climate change
  • You have power through your spending – consider moving your money away from the big 4 banks – they are still supporting fossil fuels.
  • Move your super to a super fund that doesn’t invest in fossil fuels
  • Reduce your carbon footprint:
    • Buy local food or grow your own
    • Insulate your house and buy energy efficient appliances. 
    • Re-think your travel miles – especially air miles 
  • Be a good neighbour - especially to older people and those that are vulnerable. Check on your neighbours. Warn of high heat days and offer to do shopping or errands.
Sally Missing
Member, BREAZE Inc Board