Yarra Sustainability Awards - 2011
The winners of the 2011 Yarra Sustainability Awards were announced on Thursday 2 June 2011, at a celebration at Richmond Town Hall.
Details on the winning entries and those that were highly commended can be found below in the following categories:
Home and Garden
Innovation in Sustainable Design
An exhibition of posters about the winners and shortlisted nominations is touring around libraries and other Council and community venues. The posters are currently on display at North Fitzroy Library.
If there’s somewhere you would like to see the posters on display, please contact email@example.com
Winner: Hudson’s Famous
Hudson's Famous Catering endeavours to be a leader in the Melbourne catering industry to prove it is possible to make a difference to the environment.
Hudson's Famous Catering is committed to continually improving their business practices in order to help sustain the environment and have designed their menus with a key focus on local, seasonal and sustainable produce.
All leftover food at Hudson's Famous Catering is either donated to local charities or broken down into compost.
With the help of the Australian Marine Conservation Society, the team also source local sustainable seafood.
Where possible, they use organic fruit and vegetables.
And the eggs and poultry are always free range.
Water use is minimised by questioning inherited cooking techniques such as refreshing cooked items in running water.
By undercooking certain items such as pasta and root vegetables and stopping the cooking process by refrigeration, the team eliminates the use of water as a medium to reduce the temperature of some items.
They use environmentally friendly cleaning products made by a local manufacturer and a low water usage dishwasher.
In the kitchen they have changed old production methods that can waste valuable resources.
In the office all paper used is 100% recycled and is reused if possible before being recycled again.
Mobile phones, printer and toner cartridges are all recycled, and brochures and print material are printed on 80% recycled paper using vegetable inks.
Highly Commended: PanelPop
Not paper, not canvas, not plaster, PanelPop is a novel implementation of up-cycled materials with a vast array of uses for illustrators, painters and photographers.
PanelPop, a combination of recycled timber, polystyrene and liquid stone, is a green, clean and beautiful alternative to paper and canvas.
The founder of PanelPop, Tony Knoll, struggled with the sustainability implications of traditional watercolour painting which relied on virgin resources including paper, timber and glass.
Having been involved in artistic framing for many years, the PanelPop team were also aware that many timbers used for picture framing were illegally logged in South East Asia. And so PanelPop was born.
This innovation uses 94% waste material and a manufacturing process that is simple and carbon efficient.
By creating alliances with builders, demolishers and developers, PanelPop has no shortage of base material to up-cycle.
After becoming more aware of the amount of useful material being sent to landfill, the team expanded their up-cycling to include the PanelPop bags and packaging.
Now every time they need to design a new product or process they think about what they can reuse.
For example, artists can submit raw materials to the team and earn ‘PanelPop credit points’.
When they have enough points, they receive art materials ‘for free’.
Highly Commended: Very Edible Gardens
Very Edible Gardens (VEG) is an ethical permaculture business directed by Dan Palmer and Adam Grubb, co-founders of the global permablitz network.
Dan, Adam and their team in VEG are all passionate about helping people create beautiful, edible oases.
Whether it’s in a back (or front) yard, a community garden, school or farm, Team VEG love working with a range of budgets, skills, scales and aesthetics.
In the last two years VEG has completed over 100 suburban, small acreage and community garden designs, installed hundreds of garden beds in homes, aged-care facilities and schools, run over 100 courses and workshops and have been featured on Today Tonight, The Circle and Costa’s Garden Odyssey.
VEG loves working with gardening beginners.
They have developed teaching styles and strategies to help fast-track people onto the road of good health and sustainability through fun workshops that mix theory with hands-on practice delivered with good humour and passion.
Their garden implementations are designed to create harmonious and productive connections between people and landscapes.
The team aims to be a business with a name associated with genuineness, knowledge and value, which promotes permaculture design and thinking.
The core motivation in forming VEG was to make a livelihood doing something Adam and Dan believe in: helping to create a healthier, more prosperous and fine flavoured future, with lots of edible foliage in it.
Winner: The University of Melbourne Early Learning Centre and Content Studio - Eco-Cubby Project
The teachers of the University of Melbourne Early Learning Centre placed children at the centre of the design of an eco-cubby to demonstrate sustainable building practices.
To help with the project, the teachers drew on the advice and support of a ceramic artist, an architect, and the children’s families.
By collecting and playing with a variety of natural materials, such as clay, sticks and string, the children tried a number of approaches to construction that would form the basis of design ideas for the eco-cubby play space.
The children helped to make mud bricks and used materials from their immediate environment including a fallen tree trunk which became the central support for the cubby.
The end result of the project was an innovative cubby with a circular mud brick lower floor supporting a recycled timber upper floor with two entrances.
A large window on the upper floor gives children a ‘bird’s eye view’ of the playground and treetops.
Values associated with environmental sustainability were explored through active experiential learning in a fun, collaborative, challenging and creative way.
The eco-cubby is continuing to evolve as other sustainable additions such as a water tank and solar panels are included to extend learning.
The cubby has been such a success that the team now runs tours of it and takes workshops at conferences and events about using reclaimed materials in children’s play equipment.
Highly Commended: North Fitzroy Childcare Co-operative
The North Fitzroy Childcare Co-operative has had a long-standing commitment to supporting environmental sustainability.
In 2010 the Co-op formalised this commitment by establishing three distinct strategies:
• Engage in educating and involving Co-op staff, families, children and the wider community in sustainable practices
• Incorporate environmental education into the curriculum
• Continuously improve the environmental performance of the centre through initiatives to reduce waste, minimise use of energy and water, and purchase environmentally sustainable and ethically produced products and services.
A compost bin and a worm farm allow about half of a tonne of waste to be diverted from landfill every year and save the Co-op $400 a year in garbage disposal costs.
Cloth towels have replaced paper towels and invoices are now distributed electronically rather than via paper hard copies.
Rainwater tanks and solar panels have also made a massive difference to the Co-op’s footprint.
Since adopting these strategies, the Committee has commissioned a consultant to complete an energy and waste audit of the centre.
The Co-op has since won the EEEC (Environmental Education in Early Childhood) Recognition of Excellent Sustainable Practice in Early Childhood Teaching.
The children love the sustainability fun, the team are receiving the recognition they deserve, and everyone is reaping the benefits.
Staff morale, pride and enhanced commitment are swelling at the Co-op, which only creates more enthusiasm among the parents and the broader community.
Winner: Beyond Zero Emissions
Beyond Zero Emissions Inc. (BZE) is an independent, not-for-profit, volunteer-run organisation leading a ‘can do’ campaign for climate solutions grounded in commercially available technologies and peer-reviewed research.
The BZE team spread their message in a number of ways: from presentations and speaker training to a radio show, media pieces, personal briefi ngs and monthly discussion groups.
BZE’s major achievement to date (in partnership with the University of Melbourne’s Energy Research Institute) has been the production of the Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan (ZCA), a blueprint for the transition to a decarbonised Australian economy by 2020.
This work shows how Australia can reach 100% renewable energy within a decade, using technology that is commercially available right now.
This impressive project drew on the enormous wealth of knowledge, experience and expertise in the community with most expert contributors volunteering their time.
The ZCA plan has received mainstream media coverage including on Channel Seven and the ABC, and in The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, Radio National and even the front page of the Kalgoorlie Miner.
Since the release of the Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan in 2010, BZE has grown from humble beginnings in their office at Kindness House in the City of Yarra to an NGO that has hundreds of volunteers and new branches in Sydney and Brisbane.
Winner: Melbourne Permablitz
It’s Melbourne Permablitz’s dream that if food prices suddenly skyrocketed, no one would notice.
Because everyone would have more than enough to eat already growing in their backyards.
To help this dream become reality, the Permablitz team helps arrange backyard food garden blitzes.
In a matter of days, sometimes even hours, crews of volunteers create a food growing permaculture paradise on the lucky host’s property.
How do you qualify to be a host?
Volunteer on three permablitzes yourself.
Because all of the backyard makeovers are based on permaculture principles, the resulting gardens are designed to maximise production with minimum input.
The use of water, fertilisers, insecticides or other chemicals are minimised or eliminated.
As food is grown very close to the kitchen where it will be used, and production is on a small scale, almost no fossil fuel is required for transport or production.
So far there have been more than 100 permablitzes in Melbourne alone.
The team’s mailing list runs to several thousand, and every blitz is oversubscribed.
According to Melbourne Permablitz, there is tremendous energy in the community just waiting to be channelled.
Commencing and continuing to learn simple, sustainable and productive ways of growing food at home in the Melbourne suburbs is an ongoing passion for the team, their blitz beneficiaries and their enthusiastic volunteers.
Highly Commended: Holden Street Neighbourhood House
The team at the Holden Street Neighbourhood House has grabbed the sustainability challenge with both hands.
In an impressive effort to improve the footprint of their own premises, the staff has installed heat recovery ventilation systems, external blinds, solar tubes and insulation.
Herb gardens, worm farms and a compost system have been added to the house gardens.
De-lamping, installing solar panels and draughtproofing has also drastically reduced the carbon appetite of the building.
Huge water savings have also been made through the use of rainwater tanks. Visitors to the house can learn about these initiatives through a new brochure.
The team has also taken their sustainability message to the community.
They organised and ran an open day as part of the Sustainable Living Festival as well as putting on a solar workshop and an environmental awareness day.
Holden Street hosted the ‘Beat the Heat’ Forum and participates in the Yarra Environmental Sustainability (YES) Network.
All this great work has inspired staff to introduce these ideas into their own homes.
Students participating in house classes are also changing their behaviour to become more sustainable.
Participants in the computer classes report better practices regarding the use of electricity in their homes.
Members of the walking groups have discussed the pros and cons of various solar panel systems.
Children love feeding the worms with their food scraps and using the mini rain tank, which helps them learn to share and conserve water.
Home and Garden
Winner: Alby Clark
A recent upgrade to the security features in a block of flats in Collingwood inspired Alby Clark to expand his own small garden into a community plot for himself and his neighbours.
Alby has constructed two new raised garden beds and a series of beds along the fence lines by using reclaimed timber from fencing that was removed during the renovations.
These beds have been stocked full with herbs and vegetables.
Fruit trees have been planted that, when fruiting, can be shared by all.
Ever resourceful, Alby found second-hand worm farms at car boot sales and has put them to good use recycling food scraps into valuable fertiliser.
Already Alby and his neighbours have had a year of free lettuce and tomatoes.
The lime and lemon trees have also provided fruit this year.
Alby’s nephew has supported the group effort, providing a small hot house that is used to propagate seedlings for the entire neighbourhood.
All of this activity is being noticed.
In fact, Alby has started a community trend and similar gardens are appearing in other communal spaces across the estate.
These gardens are enabling all sorts of people to get together and share ideas, seedlings and food.
What started out as a security upgrade has well and truly ended up as a sustainability – and community – upgrade.
Winner: Frank Fisher
Frank Fisher lives in a flat in Clifton Hill.
Like all the other flat owners he has a single parking place for a car, a valuable asset in the inner city – but not in Frank’s case.
Because of his passion for sustainable transport and his commitment to public transport and cycling, Frank’s parking lot has stood empty for decades.
Until recently, that is.
With the help of friends, Frank has transformed his parking space into a productive and attractive vegetable garden.
The team installed several recycled timber apple crates that, once lined with weed matting and filled with potting mix, make excellent raised beds.
Because of the height of the crates, people in wheel chairs or with limited mobility can still happily potter.
Creating a wicking bed system reduced the amount of water required in the garden.
The wicking system relies on a reservoir at the bottom of the crate fi lled with loose pieces of scoria (a type of rock).
This allows water to seep up by capillary action to the roots of the vegetables through a weedmat to the compost and topsoil containing the vegetables.
When it was time to unveil Frank’s car park garden, the team invited all of the neighbours to a barbeque.
Everyone was interested to learn about the construction of the beds and the benefits of the wicking system.
Frank’s project shows that it is possible – in fact not hard at all – to transform our dead concrete parking lots into environmental enhancing, life giving, community vegetable gardens.
Highly Commended: Ande Bunbury
Ande Bunbury’s tiny 6.5 metre long rear courtyard in Clifton Hill was typical of single-fronted terrace houses in the City of Yarra.
But after an amazing garden makeover, there is nothing typical about the space anymore.
By installing a 5000 litre water tank that collects water from the roof of the house and the hardware store next door was the first step in creating this little urban oasis.
By setting the tank three quarters into the ground, what could have been wasted space now functions as a comfortable bench seat.
The water tank provides more than enough supply to keep the garden prospering.
In fact, there is so much water that soon the tank will be connected to the house for toilet flushing and clothes washing.
An existing mature silver birch tree was retained as it was in the right location to provide shade from the hot summer sun.
Because the tree is deciduous, the rear of the house remains bathed in sun in the cooler months.
Despite a lot of shade, the garden still produces lettuce, parsley, mint and oregano.
Areas just too shady for food crops are filled with native species like violets and kidney weed.
Everything in this small space is used to its maximum potential.
The bike shed doubles as a covered clothes drying space.
Paving is interspersed with growing strips.
The fish pond doubles as an evaporative cooler, freshening prevailing breezes to cool the rear of the house in summer.
With all this innovation and beauty, Ande’s garden demonstrates that when it comes to sustainability, size doesn’t always count.
Innovation in Sustainable Design
Winner: L House Extension, Ande Bunbury Architects
Ande Bunbury Architects were commissioned to renovate a traditional Victorian terrace: an additional bedroom, walk-in robe and en-suite, and a reconfigured kitchen and dining area.
The results, and the approach, are impressive.
By adding the new dressing room and en-suite to the west side of the house, the team provided a buffer from the summer heat.
Laying a new concrete slab and retaining an existing fireplace improved internal thermal mass.
Double glazed doors and windows, insulation stuffed everywhere possible, cross ventilation, ceiling fans and self-sealing vents are some of the other new sustainability features.
Special attention was paid to low toxicity finishes for good indoor environment quality.
The floors were finished with linseed-based oil and all joinery was constructed out of special low formaldehyde (E0) emissions, medium density fibre board.
Joinery was finished with a powder coated paint surface which is generally only used in large commercial Green Star fit outs.
The paint is applied as a solid powder which doesn’t need toxic solvents to make the paint liquid and minimises waste.
During the works, waste management was important.
Unwanted materials from the original house were given to friends to reuse.
Sinks and taps, windows and frames and French doors are now in a house in Trentham.
Full height windows have been reused in a studio in Daylesford and a chandelier was given to another friend.
The final product?
Energy usage in the house has decreased by 25% since the renovation and water usage has decreased by 41%.
Highly Commended: Richmond House, Morris Partnership
A hidden rain water tank in the garage feeds the washing machine, toilets and garden.
Two other tanks are hidden in the front garden.
Summer cooling is enhanced by perforated screens, pergolas and large opening glass doors.
Heating in winter is aided by solar passive design and hydronic heating.
A north-facing dining room opens out onto a deck and food garden.
A large peppercorn tree tumbles across the frontage and provides shade and privacy to bedrooms.
The team overcame overlooking and overshadowing issues with clever design solutions.
Perforated screening creates a sense of permeability but also privacy.
The central courtyard acts as both a thermal chimney and impressive landscape feature.
It allows natural light to stream into the middle of the house.
The extensive use of different types of insulation and double glazing, along with a smart approach to orientation, has substantially reduced energy usage.
Floors, walls and ceilings are insulated which reduces thermal and acoustic transmission.
The client wanted roof water retention, minimal energy use for heating and cooling, the use of durable, sustainable materials and a garden that was part of the home and the street.
This house really does showcase innovative design solutions that achieve aesthetic and sustainability goals simultaneously: a perfect fit with the client’s needs.
Winner (Secondary School): Melbourne Girls' College
Melbourne Girls' College (MGC) is striving to become carbon neutral and has developed an environment policy that commits it to an annual reduction in its environmental impact as a way of achieving this goal.
Sustainability is the focus of two student driven organisations at MGC.
The Student Environment Group has over 40 members from all year levels and the Sustainability Collective also includes the talent and resources of parents and the local community.
MGC leads in energy awareness and is the first Victorian government school to install four pedal powered generators to complement their existing renewable power solar array.
The bikes are available to all classes daily.
Now when students exercise 100% of their energy is converted into electricity to drive the technology they will later use.
In 2011, the Sustainability Collective hosted the world’s first 100% carbon neutral, outdoor moonlight cinema which was completely pedal powered.
During a biodiversity audit, students identified a need for more indigenous plants and hollows for native birds.
The resultant community project involved students working with a diverse array of indigenous, education and local council groups.
Students planted over 2000 indigenous plants, stabilised the river bank, removed weeds, and built and installed almost 200 bird and bat nesting boxes.
The students and staff at MGC aim to be leaders in educating for sustainability.
Winning the 2010 Sustainability Victoria Resource Smart Schools Awards for the categories of Energy Smart and Community Partnerships and similar successes the year before, they may well have achieved their aim.
Winner (Primary School): Princes Hill Primary School
Princes Hill Primary School has been working on sustainable environmental initiatives and practices since 2005.
In 2008, along with a group of other inner-Melbourne schools, Princes Hill really got serious about reducing their carbon emissions.
The team had a particular emphasis on green technology and design and investment in solar power.
A 5.18 kWh photovoltaic system now supplies 14% of the school’s annual electricity consumption.
Other changes include:
- an automatic shut-down system linked to the mains electricity in the new 3/4 and Administration Building
- fluorescent lighting upgraded to T5 energy efficient lamps
- installation of sensor lights and automatic exhaust fans
- a timer on the staffroom hot water urn
- guttering aligned to facilitate tanks to toilet systems
- a new photocopier with an energy saver function.
And of course the students were involved in these great initiatives from beginning to end.
Sustainability became the hot topic across all subjects, from performing arts to Italian.
Despite delays in funding and competing priorities, the Princes Hill Primary School team has continued to implement innovative curriculum projects that link directly to the students’ contemporary life experiences.
The school’s Walk/Ride to School and active transport program continues to grow each year.
The kitchen-garden project is well underway and a National Tree Day planting day this year just adds to the fantastic efforts at Princes Hill.
Highly Commended: Collingwood English Language School
Collingwood English Language School is a government school providing intensive English language programs for primary and secondary aged children.
Because students arrive from many countries around the world and often don’t have an awareness of sustainability issues, the teachers have worked really hard to make the environment a core part of what everyone does.
At the school assembly students are taught about recycling, with demonstrations using rubbish bins and recycling bins, and easily understood visuals.
Mobile phone and e-waste recycling facilities are available for students and staff.
The installation of solar panels, a rainwater tank and energy effi cient light bulbs will reduce the footprint of the school significantly.
Topics such as climate change and sustainable water use are woven throughout the curriculum and students have undertaken surveys on energy conservation to raise awareness.
By explaining the importance of environmental issues in clear, fun and accessible ways, the teachers hope that the students will become sustainability advocates, educating their families and the broader community.
Most students come to school by public transport.
Teachers cycle to work on a regular basis and take part in the Ride to Work Day. An upgrade to the bicycle storage area for staff and student bicycles and a bicycle safety program for primary students mean more people are cycling to school regularly.
It really seems that this school could be renamed Collingwood English Language and Sustainability School.
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