Demonstration Site Retrofit - To help raise awareness of the energy saving measures we can all take to reduce our carbon footprint, the Centre is being progressively retrofitted as a community sustainable living demonstration site. The aim is to showcase integrated and sustainable energy, water and waste management initiatives to local residents and businesses.
The building incorporates a range of energy smart design principles that have traditionally kept Australian homes cooler in our hot summers.
Windows & Shading – Deep verandas all the way around the building shade windows from direct sun, supplemented by an adjustable external blind on the western side. Native vegetation casts additional shading, allowing only filtered sunlight to strike the western windows.
Floor – The timber floor is raised 1 metre above the ground, allowing for good air circulation around and underneath the building, in the manner of the old style “Queenslander” homes. Internally, floors are covered with sisal carpet, with thick underlay providing insulation against heat loss through the floor in winter. Sisal is a natural product, made from the leaves of the tropical succulent species Agave sisalana, now grown around the world for its valuable fibre.
Lighting – Energy Australia recently offered the Centre an upgrade and replacement of its lighting, to showcase how easy it can be to reduce energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions. The outcomes were an annual saving of around $350 on electricity bills, saving of 3.1 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually, and better lighting providing improved comfort and amenity for staff.
Electricity Generation – A 5kW Solar PV Power System is installed with 24 x 215W modules from Kyocera. These output around 7399 kWh/year to the education centre, which operates core hours 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday. The expected Carbon Dioxide savings are 7.84 t/year.
Heating & Cooling – Over its 19 years of operation, air conditioning has never been needed at the CEC. Sufficient thermal comfort for occupants has been provided by cross-ventilation achieved by opening external doors and windows to capture coastal breezes. Warm air is enabled to escape the building by opening high louver windows in the main rooms, and two recently installed hot air exhausts in the ceiling of the new Eco-cinema facility. Heating in winter is provided by 4 energy efficient natural gas heaters located in different sections of the building.
Water Heating – The CEC’s need for hot water is not great, as there are no showers. Hot water is provided to the kitchen sink and bathroom hand-basin by a Rinnai solar hot water system, donated by Rinnai Solar Australia. The system is a single flat-plate collector on an unshaded north facing roof, with a separate hot water tank. The new system, replaces two old electric hot water heaters and has saved an estimated $327 annually on electricity costs and will save 2.9 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from going into the atmosphere every year.
Appliances – The electric ZIP office water heater is kept switched off, and an Eco-jug used instead for staff tea and coffee throughout the day. The ZIP is switched on occasionally, when hot water for catering large groups is required. Desk-top computers for staff have been replaced with more energy efficient laptops. Some of the Audiovisual equipment in the new Eco-cinema is manufactured by T+A Elektroakustik, whose environmental credentials include energy efficiency, longevity and green manufacturing principles (since 1978). Supplied in Australia by WC Wedderspoon, based at Crows Nest .
Water Harvesting – Rainwater is collected from the roof into a 3000 litre water tank. It was purchase using funds from Waste and Sustainability Improvements Program (WASIP) from the NSW Government. The harvested water is used for flushing the toilets and watering the garden. The system has a meter hooked up to measure how much water is saved (not taken from the main water supply).
Waste Management – Waste is reduced to a minimum through staff education and awareness. To prevent waste to landfill generating methane (a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent than CO2) food scraps and greenwaste from the garden is recycled through two compost bins and a worm farm.
Gardens – The CEC’s no-dig garden provides herbs and veges for use by staff, and provides an opportunity to discuss the issue of “food miles” with visitors to the Centre. A local native demonstration garden has been established to promote the beauty of the local flora and to save on the need for watering