A greener future

Michael-HThe National Energy Efficiency Network (NEEN) is a government funded program working to empower faith-based and not-for-profit community organisations to become more energy efficient.

Through a new partnership between Catholic Earthcare Australia and the Vic/Tas synod, the NEEN regional leader Michael Hwang (pictured) is working from 130 Little Collins Street while overseeing work for the nation-wide energy reduction project.

Mr Hwang recently conducted energy audits at UnitingCare Tasmania and Uniting Church Camping sites.

In line with the synod’s commitment to reduce energy use across the Church, sites received expert advice on how to effectively reduce energy usage.

Mr Hwang said many sites were able to make significant changes with minimal cost.

“One of the camping sites had a hot water urn that was on 24-hours-a-day seven days a week,” Mr Hwang said.

“In that instance we can purchase a 50 dollar timer to ensure the hot water urn is only on when people need water – things like this are a quick easy win. We can cut down about ten hours of energy consumption each day.

“When you multiply that by the number of water heaters across all the sites over the course of a year – it’s quite significant.”

Many seemingly small initiatives can often have significant cost savings, which in turn support larger energy saving initiatives.

“The long-term aim is to have Halls Gap Uniting Church Camping as a leader in reducing overall carbon foot print and be a real tangible example of how camping practices can be more sustainable,” Mr Hwang said.

“Because they have so many youth groups and students coming through the sites, eventually Uniting Church Camping could position itself as a leader in educating people who come through their campsites.

“One thing they’re looking at is organising exercise bikes linked to generators at sites as an education tool to help people see how much energy it actually takes to power certain lights. That sort of thing can really create engagement with students – that’s the end goal they’re working towards.

“There’s a real opportunity to share the message and eventually work towards campsites being totally carbon neutral.”

Mr Hwang said there were a plethora of opportunities for church groups to get involved.

“As well as the practical and financial benefits of energy reduction initiatives, there are also ethical imperatives,” Mr Hwang said.

“All faith groups believe that the planet is sacred and most people would agree that we could all do a bit more. There are so many ways to take part in sustainability initiatives – whether it’s just making small lifestyle changes or practical steps to enact energy reduction in your local community.”

To find out more about the NEEN network and opportunities for your organisation or community contact NEEN at info@neen.org.au. To read about other energy reduction initiatives across the Uniting Church visit sustainability.victas.uca.org.au.

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