Bonshaw 02This month BREAZE Social Solar 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 budget 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.

Bonshaw 03Bonshaw 02

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.

Screen Shot 2021 08 31 at 4.06.00 pm

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.”

Bushfires 

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. 

Drought

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 

MDThe 6th Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was never going to be anything but bad news, however the findings were worse than many expected, with UN chief, Antonio Guterres declaring it "a code red for humanity." The likely impacts for Australia have been compiled by the ABC. While our nation is already a high achiever when it comes to suffering the worst impacts of climate change, we are destined for more extreme weather events of all kinds, as global warming accelerates. The Climate Council (CC) says we need to cut emissions by 75% before 2030 to stay within 1.5C by 2050. The CC has as an online petition calling on the Australian Government to implement this 75% target, which you might consider signing.

Having just endured our 6th COVID lockdown, it's understandable that many of us are finding life a bit of a struggle both financially and emotionally with the things that anchor us, jobs and social life, in disarray.

 So it's certainly not surprising that 'climate doomism' is on the rise. For those falling to its sway, Anthropologist, Margaret Mead's much quoted summation of the power of citizen action, might offer some comfort: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” 

Certainly, Mead could not have conceived of a situation like the one we find ourselves in –having endured decades of world leaders, manipulated by fossil fuel interests, ignoring the advice of experts on a matter as fundamental as our very survival. However, by drawing attention to thought and commitment, and literally focusing the mind, her words direct us forward. While Zoom weariness may be setting in, the online platform does enable us to offer events and to meet as members of the BREAZE community. Smart Living Ballarat host, Sam Rodgers and Ballarat Green Drinks new host, Pat Hockey, also BREAZE secretary, have two great events for you coming up later in August and September – the first online and the second hopefully in person, pending easing of covid restrictions. We hope you see these as opportunities to connect with like-minded individuals.

MEMBERS ACTIVITIES

'Sustainable House Day' – 15 September 12:30 pm online – another free talk from Smart Living Ballarat:

Sustainable House Day is an annual event, showcasing sustainable and inspiring homes and offering expert advice, insight and peer-to-peer education about building, retrofitting or renovating sustainably. Looking two Ballarat couples who have made their own sustainable dream homes, we will chat to Jess Higgins-Anderson and Bryan Anderson about their owner-built off-grid straw-bale house in the bush and Peter and Sandra Hawkins about their all-electric, eco-retrofitted 1990’s brick veneer home in Ballarat East.

To join live and 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. Log on via https://www.facebook.com/smartlivingballarat

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

Ballarat Green Drinks is back  -pending COVID restrictions - but let's be optimistic.
'Decarbonising our Transport Network'  Ben Lever, PT Advocate - 14 September 7:30 PM Lake View Hotel.  Come early and join us for dinner 

Convener of the Ballarat Branch of the Public Transport Users Association, Ben Lever, will discuss the key role public transport has to play in a low-carbon future.

BREAZE BOARD ACTIVITIES 

GRE Wrap Up

BREAZE Board member, Peter Reid, who coordinated DELWP's Renewable Energy program (GRE) on behalf of  BREAZE completed his final report on the project this month. Under Peter's management the GRE program exceeded initial estimates of energy installed  by 127kW. In all approximately 400kW was installed on 104 properties across the region. Having previously served on the Ballarat Community Power Hub PCG, which had identified and undertaken feasibility studies on most of the projects, Peter's knowledge and expertise was critical to the success of the project which has delivered thousands of dollars of energy cost savings to not-for-profits and social housing residents in Ballarat and Horsham.

Grampians Community Power Hub (G-CPH)

The G-CPH will be fully operational by early September. The Project Control Group, consisting of three BREAZE Inc. volunteers – Peter Boadle, Paul Duggan and Mary Debrett – plus Hepburn Wind manager, Taryn Lane (Hepburn Branch Partner) and Sustainability Victoria's Grampians regional coordinator, John van Rooden, will shortly be joined by a Project Manager, a position we have just re-advertised with more flexible terms on Ethical Jobs. The G-CPH will have two employees: the Project Manager and a  part time Communications/Administration Officer. The G-CPH will canvas 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.

Climate Change in the Media

Three Worst
  1. The Morrison government wants to bail out coal-fired generators. Guess who’ll pay?  
  2. World to hit temperature tipping point 10 years faster than forecast
  3. Fires Ravage Southern Europe      

 

Three Best
  1. “Get serious”: Eight technologies that could eliminate nearly all emissions by 2035 
  2. More countries hike climate pledges, piling pressure on major emitters
  3. Democrats seek $500 billion in Climate Damages from Big Polluting Companies   

 

Board Meetings

For our August Meeting the Board was able to take advantage of pre-lockdown freedom, meeting over dinner at the Lake View Hotel to listen to guest speaker, Tom Quinn, the recently appointed Head of Research and Policy at the leading Climate Think Tank, Beyond Zero Emissions. Tom, who is also a Ballarat resident, offered many insights into what we can expect in coming years from the renewables sector and some hard headed summation of the politics and hopeful pockets of bipartisanship.

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 – 

All the best

Mary

Mary Debrett
President, August 2021                                                                       

He’s back by popular demand! Wednesday 18 August Online, 12.30pmAugust 2021

Join us and John “Ditchy” Ditchburn for a spring gardening special where you’ll learn how to grow four key spring planted vegetables including:

  • Tomatoes
  • Corn
  • Peas
  • Pumpkin

John will give us practical hints on growing these four key vegetables in Ballarat’s springtime including information on air and soil temperature dynamics and how they influence when and how to plant in spring.

John brings with him a lifetime of experience in growing fruit and vegetables and being involved in the food gardening community. He first began to grow vegetables at the age of sixteen. Since then, apart from a year spent travelling, he has always grown vegetables in one form or another. As well as running the Urban Food Garden, he has been involved in numerous gardening activities in Melbourne and Ballarat.

John also works as a freelance cartoonist; you can check out his work here.

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.

Facebook event: https://fb.me/e/S0JqvKoD

QuickLink SmartLiving Big

 

MDBREAZE Inc. to host Grampians Community Power Hub

On Thursday 8 July Victoria’s Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily d’Ambrosio, announced $6.5 million to expand the Community Power Hubs program and provide new grants for community organisations. 

BREAZE is delighted to be nominated as lead partner organisation for the Community Power Hub for the Grampians region (G-CPH). BREAZE joins six other organisations in the expanded regional CPH program: Loddon Mallee hosted by Bendigo Sustainability Group; Barwon South West hosted by Geelong Sustainability Group; Hume hosted by Indigo Power; Gippsland hosted by Gippsland Climate Change Network, and the two metropolitan CPHs - metropolitan Melbourne hosted by Yarra Climate Action Network and the Greater Yarra Valley and Ranges hosted by Healesville CORE Group.

As host of the Grampians CPH BREAZE  will be collaborating with our Hepburn branch partner, Hepburn Wind, and with other communities and partner LGAs  across the Grampians region,  working with Sustainability Victoria to facilitate transition to a low carbon, clean energy future.

It’s an honour for BREAZE to be again selected to manage such an important and timely program, one that will aid the development of community-owned renewable energy projects across the state. The Grampians CPH will help local communities to build cheaper, cleaner energy infrastructure that is also more resilient when bushfires hit. 

The CPH Pilot program which ran from 2017-2020 substantially boosted Victoria’s renewable energy capacity and saved thousands in energy costs. Collectively, the pilot program’s 15 projects added 1.35MW of renewable energy capacity back to their communities, annually reduced their carbon emissions by 1,839 t.CO2e and saved $346,000 in electricity costs. This 2021-2022 program hopes to achieve similarly benefits for Victorians and accelerate our transition to a renewable energy future. 

As the lead partner organisation, Ballarat Renewable Energy and Zero Emissions will be funded to increase access, involvement and ownership of renewable energy systems within the Grampians region, whilst delivering significant economic benefits and ultimately reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The Grampians Community Power Hub will be a one-stop-shop for advice on renewable energy and energy efficiency and one of the most important platforms for communities in this region to move towards a renewable energy system. Working at the grass roots level to 

empower our local communities with the knowledge and support they need is crucial if we are to make the transition to a low carbon, clean energy future.

So as  DELWP’s Grampians Renewable Energy program ends, BREAZE moves onto the next phase of helping to decarbonise the region.

A reunion and celebrationIMG 0170

 

On 9 July members of the BREAZE Board got together with members of the Old Colonists’ Association (OCA) Committee, along with the Member for Wendouree, Juliana Addison and Cr Belinda Coates, to celebrate the completion of the Victorian Government’s Grampians Renewable Energy (GRE) Program, and BREAZE’s nomination as lead partner in the Grampians Community Power Hub. One of the nine projects undertaken for GRE was the installation of Solar PV across the OCA’s retirement village in Charles Anderson Grove – the project steering committee, OCA and BREAZE volunteers, met fortnightly for nearly a year. Solar for retirees, social housing and sporting clubs are among the GRE models that BREAZE hopes to replicate across the many communities of the Grampians region in the new regional CPH.

L-R: Travis Hurst (OCA); Juliana Addison (Member for Wendouree);  Gerald Jenzen (OCA); Jo Barber (OCA President); Therese Footner (BREAZE Board); Stephen Carter (OCA Treasurer); Sally Missing (BREAZE Board); Peter Boadle (BREAZE Board); Mary Debrett (BREAZE President); Suzanne Nunn (BREAZE Board); Cr Belinda Coates (CoB); Peter Reid (GRE Coordinator/BREAZE Board); Pauline Gleeson (BREAZE Board)

 

Read more: President's July Report

IMG 4025On Thursday 9 July Victoria’s Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily d’Ambrosio, announced $6.5 million to expand the Community Power Hubs program and provide new grants for community organisations. 

 BREAZE Inc. has been nominated as lead partner organisation for the Community Power Hub (CPH) for the Grampians region and joins six other organisations in the expanded CPH program: Loddon Mallee hosted by Bendigo Sustainability Group; Barwon South West hosted by Geelong Sustainability Group; Hume hosted by Indigo Power; Gippsland hosted by Gippsland Climate Change Network. The 2021 program also includes two metropolitan CPHs - metropolitan Melbourne hosted by Yarra Climate Action Network and the Greater Yarra Valley and Ranges hosted by Healesville CORE Group.

The Hubs are envisaged as assisting small business and community organisations to help the transition to renewable energy to halve emissions by 2030.

This regional program expands on the Pilot program which ran from 2017-2020 and substantially boosted Victoria’s renewable energy capacity, saving thousands in energy costs, adding 1.35MW of renewable energy capacity into communities – reducing annual carbon emissions by 1,839 t.CO2e and saving $346,000 in electricity costs. This 2021-2022 program hopes to achieve similarly benefits for Victorians while accelerating our transition to a cleaner, renewable energy future. 

BREAZE is honoured to be once again be managing such an important and timely program, one that will help local communities to build cheaper energy infrastructure that will also be more resilient when bushfires hit. 

BREAZE volunteers will be looking for viable projects and seeking to engage with potentially interested groups such as: not-for-profit operators of social housing and retirement facilities, community child-care centres, kindergartens, Men's Sheds, environmental and sustainability groups, neighbourhood associations, sporting clubs, colleges and universities, animal welfare organisations, scouts, scholarship funds, public museums and libraries, and cultural organisations.

Possible projects include: solar arrays, solar bulk buys, solar streetlight installations in community facilities and households, community batteries, virtual power plants, and small scale utility solar and wind.

BREAZE  will be collaborating with Sustainability Victoria and Hepburn Wind, our Hepburn branch partner, and will be seeking other partners across the Grampians to enable the much needed transition to a low carbon, clean energy future. 

As a one-stop-shop for advice on being energy efficient, the Grampians Community Power Hub will be one of the most important platforms for communities in this region to move towards a renewable energy system. Working at the grass roots level to empower our local communities with the knowledge and support they need, is crucial if we are to make the transition to a low carbon, clean energy future and to meet Victoria's emissions reductions target.

If you or your group has a project in mind please contact me -  or head to our form to register your interest.