Yarra Sustainability Awards - 2012

2012 YSA logoThe winners of the 2012 Yarra Sustainability Awards were announced on Thursday 16 August 2012, 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:

Community Action
Home and Garden
Local Hero
Sustainable Design and Development




SA-Business-GJK-1Winner: GJK Facility Services

GJK Facility Services' commitment to sustainability is demonstrated by a range of strategies and practices designed to minimise the environmental impacts of its operations. These initiatives range from green cleaning to a green fleet.

The company has developed an Energy Action Plan, a detailed outline of how it will reduce its energy consumption.

Actions taken so far include converting to 50% renewable energy via government accredited Green Power, installing sensor lights in work areas, becoming signatories of City Switch Green Office, a national tenant energy efficiency program, and implementing a lights off policy for cleaning staff servicing clients' properties.

Other sustainability initiatives include regularly performing energy, water and transport audits of the Collingwood headquarters, establishing a staff Green Team to oversee the implementation of green principles and practices, implementing an electronic reporting system and paperless communication and assisting clients to reduce their energy consumption.



Highly Commended: Original Foods

Sustainability is at the heart of Original Foods' business. The key environmental focuses of the business are menu selection and sustainable food production, energy consumption, waste, procurement and water use.

In the kitchen, Original Foods sources seasonal and locally grown ingredients where possible. It supports organic, fair trade, rainforest alliance, carbon neutral and environmentally responsible farming and subscribes to the GM and palm oil free movements. It engages suppliers and producers with sustainable practices, and ensures that cooking, packaging, cleaning and waste-management methods are environmentally responsible.

Sustainability initiatives in the company's physical environment include installation of skylights and windows, use of environmentally friendly paints and light fittings, low-flow faucets on all taps, provision of bicycles racks and shower facilities for staff and use of recycled products in marketing materials.

When working with clients who are producing events, the company provides a guide, "10 ways to Green your Event", which provides tips and advice on how to make the event more sustainable. 


SA-Business-Ecovantage-3Highly Commended: Ecovantage

Ecovantage estimates that its work with the residential sector in the last five years has led to the reduction of over half a million tonnes of carbon dioxide, saving megawatts of energy use and swimming pools of drinking water.

Working in partnership with various local governments and energy and water providers, Ecovantage installs energy and water saving products and provides assessment and educational services to the residential sector. It also provides carbon accounting, building ratings and energy water and waste assessments to companies, organisations and schools as well as households.

Sustainable practices have also been introduced into the Ecovantage work environment including installing bike racks and providing shared bikes for use during the day, providing worm farms for green waste, using recycled paper and refillable toner cartridges, adopting green procurement practices and having a weekly Ceres fruit box delivered to the office. 


SA-Business-IKEA-Highly Commended: IKEA Richmond

During the last year IKEA Richmond has undertaken many sustainability initiatives. These include installing a cardboard compacter to recycle all cardboard in store, refitting the emergency backup generator to use bio diesel, arranging to have kitchen oils collected to be used for bio diesel, installing light sensors in the office and back of house areas, and introducing re-cycling and switch-off reminders in the office areas.

Environmental benefits from these initiatives include reduction of waste sent to landfill by over seven tonnes a week, reduction of carbon emissions by 20%, and a reduction of the store's quarterly gas bill to $38 which, for a space of 22,500 spare metres, is a great achievement.

The store has created a home room setting dedicated to sustainable living that is entirely stocked from its sustainable product range and incoporates hundreds of tips on living sustainably.

IKEA also supports community initiatives such as Yarra Climate Action Now and Melbourne Girls' College Sustainability Collective with donations, sponsorship and participation in events such as National Tree Day. 


Community Action

SA-comm-AVWA-2Winner: Australian Vietnamese Women's Association Sustainability Program

The Australian Vietnamese Women's Association has not only significantly reduced its energy consumption, it has raised environmental awareness among staff, clients, the Vietnamese community and local school children.

The Australian Vietnamese Women's Association (AVWA) is a not-for-profit organisation with a broad reach into the local Vietnamese community. This year AVWA installed 18 solar panels on the roof of its Richmond office It also replaced all office light bulbs with energy efficient bulbs under the Victorian Government Energy and Water Task Force program..

AVWA has showcased its energy-saving achievements through articles in the Vietnamese media and community education sessions, including the launch of the program "Talking My Language - Household Energy Saving Resources in Vietnamese".


SA-Community-compost-crew-photo-1Winner: Cultivating Community's Compost Crew

In the past year, Cultivating Community's Compost Crew has had a direct impact in reducing food waste going to landfill by assisting 100 Yarra residents to become actively involved in composting their food scraps and improving their approach to food waste avoidance.

The Compost Crew is a partnership between Cultivating Community, a non-profit organisation that develops and supports community gardens and local food projects, and the Council's Waste Minimisation Unit.

Evaluation data show that 97% of Compost Crew participants are composting successfully, 86% have created 'compost ripples' by talking to others about the benefits of composting and 29% have altered their purchasing habits to minimise food waste.

Participants have diverted over 2.3 tonnes of food waste from landfill, preventing 2085 Co2kg-eq3 of greenhouse gas emissions.


SA-comm-GreenTown-2-smallHighly Commended: GreenTown Collingwood (Environment Victoria)

GreenTown is a sustainable-living program for multicultural communities, run by Environment Victoria. GreenTown Collingwood focussed on the communities of the Collingwood Housing Estate.

GreenTown uses a partnership model and a train-the-trainer format. It works with a small group of bilingual local leaders to engage their communities through workshops and home sustainability assessments. The success of this project is inherently linked to a belief in community empowerment. GreenTown enables participants to become environmental leaders in their communities.

Ten residents were trained as home sustainability assessors and delivered assessments and distributing household retrofit products to their friends, families and other residents.

Environment Victoria estimates that participating GreenTown households save approximately four tonnes (33%) of greenhouse emissions per year, 61,000 litres (41%) of water per year, and divert 119kg (25%) of waste from landfill. Previous GreenTown evaluations have found that the households are each saving approximately $882 on their electricity, gas and water bills each year.


SA-comm-yarra-bike-fleet-3Highly Commended: Yarra Bike Fleet (North Yarra Community Health)

The Yarra Bike Fleet is a fleet of 15 bikes stationed at the Atherton Gardens Housing Estate for the sole use of the residents. In its first year of operation the fleet has attracted 60 members who have collectively completed approximately 1500 rides.

A recent survey showed that 70% of members now use bikes for transport where they once would have used cars or public transport.

As far as North Yarra Community Health can discover, locating a bike fleet at a residential space, let alone a public housing estate, has never been tried before. This is a groundbreaking project with positive outcomes, not only for the health and well-being of the housing estate residents, but also for the environment.



SA-edu-coop-3Winner (early years education) - North Fitzroy Childcare Co-op

North Fitzroy Childcare Co-op has successfully implemented a number of initiatives over the past 12 months to cement the foundations of its Greening of Co-op project.

Co-op has now updated all its policies to support the sustainable focus of the centre's procedures. This focus ranges from one-off initiatives, such as using sustainable paint products when the centre was recently repainted, to changes in daily practices, such as switching to natural cleaning products.

The children who attend the centre regularly participate in sustainable practices by helping with the composting and worm farming, including collecting worm juice and digging vermicast into the garden beds, and harvesting vegetables and herbs

Co-op also takes its sustainability message into the community by sharing knowledge with children and families so it can be implemented in the home environment, participating in events such as National Tree Day, and inspiring and supporting other early childhood services to implement sustainable practices.


SA-edu-spensley-2Winner (schools) - Spensley Street Primary School

The Edible Garden Program at Spensley Street Primary School, which is now part of the school curriculum, involves all 360 students working together to nurture a garden of edible plants.

The students make compost, feed the worms, save and sow seeds, and mulch, weed, water and harvest vegetables and herbs for preparation, cooking and sharing. The program uses Heirloom seeds so that seed-saving not only becomes a key part of learning how plants are propagated, but also ensures a strong and ever expanding pool of plants at no further cost to the school. The food is grown organically, using no pesticides or fertilisers.

The program focuses on the importance of our environment, growing and cooking organic, seasonal food and thinking about food miles. A number of other schools have visited the garden and been inspired to establish their own edible garden programs.

The Edible Garden Program teaches children respect for the environment and the importance of fresh, seasonal food as a part of healthy living– knowledge they will carry with them through life and share with others.


Home and Garden

Sabine 2012Winner - Sabine Perrone

Sabine, originally from France, lives in a rental property with a small garden about six by seven metres, a good portion of which is a car parking space. Since moving in three years ago, Sabine has transformed her outdoor space into a flourishing edible garden.

Sabine has an effective composting system and uses tank water to water her garden. The garden attracts a wide varietyof native birds. As an entomologist, Sabine has also been pleased to see a huge increase in the diversity of insect life in her garden – she estimates there are ten times as many species as when she started.

When a swarm of bees appeared in the garden, Sabine bought a hive, adopted the bees and became a registered beekeeper. Sabine has learned about keeping bees from other beekeepers in the area and from joining a beekeepers club. She is generous in sharing her knowledge and expertise in gardening techniques and insect control – not to mention produce and cuttings – with friends and neighbours.

Sabine's passion for bees has led her to coordinate a pilot project called Bee Force in which hobby beekeepers act as an efficient and cost-effective early-detection system for diseases and pests that affect bees.


Local Hero

SA-local-heroes-andrew-vance-3-great-but-smallWinner: Andrew Vance

As Environment Co-ordinator at Melbourne Girls' College (MGC) in Richmond, Andrew Vance has established MGC as a regional and state-level hub of environmental education and action. In 2011 MGC won School of the Year awards in three categories of Sustainability Victoria's ResourceSmart Awards.

In a Victorian first, Andrew has overseen the development of a student-parent-community partnership model for sustainability – the MGC Sustainability Collective. In 2011 Andrew and the Sustainability Collective developed a range of innovative projects and events that reached a wide audience, with significant benefits to both the environment and community. These included a Pedal Powered Moonlight Cinema, using a pioneering, zero-carbon 'Pedal-Power Station' that was created with the support of several locally-based businesses and the environmental company Future Spark; the Murnong Daisy Recovery Project; the annual MGC Environment Conference and the Jane Goodall lecture.

Andrew's influence is demonstrated most clearly in the passion and commitment shown by the students of MGC ­– emerging leaders in their own right – whom he has inspired and mentored.


SA-local-heroes-andrew-mahar-1Highly Commended: Andrew Mahar

Andrew Mahar is the founder and former Executive Director of Infoxchange established in the City of Yarra over 23 years ago with the mission to provide 'technology for social justice'.

One of his many initiatives towards this mission was the establishment of the GreenPC enterprise, a social and environmental initiative that refurbishes second hand computers and distributes them at low cost to healthcare card holders and community organisations.

Over the last 10 years the program has employed hundreds of long-term unemployed people in its Abbotsford workshop to remanufacture over 30,000 computers. These machines have typically reached the end of their useful lives, and would almost certainly have otherwise ended up in landfill.

In his role at Infoxchange Andrew has provided leadership and learning opportunities to over 1000 employees as well as to other community leaders and workers. Andrew's spirit of generosity in sharing his knowledge and experiences has had a major impact on many people and in many cases, has changed the course of careers and lives.


SA-local-heroes-thomas-greig-1Highly Commended: Thomas Greig

Thomas Greig has instigated, supported and inspired various local sustainability initiatives including healthy soil-building and community-based urban agriculture.

Thomas contributed to the development of Yarra City Council's Urban Agriculture Guidelines and is now active in the newly formed Yarra Urban Agriculture Advisory Committee. He also participated in the Transition Town Yarra initiating group and holds the Urban Agriculture co-ordination role in Yarra Climate Action Now (YCAN).

He is active in many community-based projects and activities including local Permablitz events, edible garden working bees and community food-garden tours. He was one of the drivers behind the Clifton Hill Compost Mates project and is pivotal to the organisation and success of the Gordon Street Laneway food garden. He initiated and implemented the Household Compost Plaques project and gives regular and much appreciated help with Fitzroy Urban Harvest's home-grown edibles swap.

Thomas's enthusiasm, focus and hard work continue to make a vital contribution to his community's resilience and its transition to more sustainable living.


Sustainable Design and Development

SA-design-Rae-St-1Winner - Michael Day and Verity Campbell for 256 Rae Street, North Fitzroy

Michael and Verity's objective for the renovation of their house was to keep the original Victorian structure intact, impinge as little as possible on the garden, make it as green as possible, and do it for less than $200,000.

The increased roof space enabled them to add two solar panels to their existing system and install a solar hot water collector.

To maximise energy efficiency and passive cooling/heating properties they installed batts in the ceilings and walls, applied insulative paint additive to external walls and some interiors, insulated the edges of the concrete slab, ensured all gaps were sealed during construction and installed ceiling vents to prevent air leakage.

A new 2000 litre slimline water tank plumbed to the toilet, laundry and garden will save up to 100 litres per day. LED lighting installed throughout the house will reduce their total wattage to 1.5 watts per square metre.

The house was featured in the May edition of Sanctuary: modern green homes magazine and will be on show on Sustainable House Day on September the 9th.


SA-design-Daniel-Mannix-3Highly Commended: The Daniel Mannix Building, St Patrick's Campus, Australian Catholic University

The Daniel Mannix Building has achieved a 6-Star Green Star design rating which indicates international leadership in sustainable design according to the Green Building Council of Australia's rating system.

The many sustainable features of this research and learning facility include: a floor-plate that permits daylight to reach throughout the building, active mass heating and cooling, 100% fresh air, parking for over 160 bicycles, six integrated wind turbines and solar hot water heating panels.

The lighting system uses an advanced control system comprising daylight and occupant sensors that switch lights on and off according to need.

The building has water-efficient fittings throughout and a 50,000 litre tank that harvests rain water and water from the testing of fire systems. This water flushes toilets and irrigates the rooftop garden and plants in the St Mary of the Cross Square. This will result in an annual saving of half a million litres of water in comparison to a conventional building of similar size and function.

The building includes a full suite of recycling and landfill bins and by completion in August 2012, at least 80% of the waste from the construction will have been recycled.


SA-design-Southwood-2Highly Commended: Southwood Home - 164 McKean Street, North Fitzroy

The architect's brief for Southwood Home was to reflect the owners' wish to live in an efficient, connected space and to move away from the excesses often seen in the modern family home.

By seriously questioning what a new sustainable house could mean the owners were able to free themselves from the burden of the 'must have list'. This reductionist approach liberates this building from the excesses of contemporary houses and offers a new, refreshing take on clean living.

Spatially, the house is modestly sized but still efficient enough to house a family of six. The side entry has eliminated the need for corridors and the plan caters for long-term flexibility. Low-tech passive design techniques were employed wherever possible. The house is oriented north for passive solar gain and living areas are located on the first floor to benefit from unobstructed sunlight. Summer heat loads are controlled by adjustable shade sails made from recycled sail canvas.

Waste heat generated by the hot water system system contributes to warming the house and drying laundry. Natural ventilation is facilitated through windows above the central stair void that draw air up through the house from small secure windows at ground level.

Also nominated:

  • Brenchley Architects for the multi-residential development of 37-43 Cameron St, Richmond
  • CPPD Architects for the residential retrofit of Princes Hill Terrace, Richardson St, Princes Hill
  • Breathe Architecture for the commercial retrofit of the National Hotel, 340-344 Victoria St, Richmond.


Further information
Madeleine Cahill
2014 Sustainability Awards Project Manager

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