Volunteers behind transformative renewable energy projects are among the recipients of the annual Community Green Achiever Awards.
The awards program was established by the Council last year to recognise community-led action that promotes sustainability, supports biodiversity and protects our environment.
Deputy Mayor Trent Sullivan said the awards celebrated innovations in the areas of climate change, renewable energy, circular living and biodiversity restoration.
“The awards highlight the incredible array of residents and groups who are committed to creating a sustainable future and encouraging others to embrace positive change,” he said.
“There is a lot of great work being done at a local level that Council is proud to support and showcase.”
Climate Action Award (Joint Winner)
Dan Cowdell – Geelong Community Solar Program
Dan Cowdell led a team that developed and delivered a community bulk buy program to support our region’s transition to renewable energy.
The program leveraged large scale buying power to help local households and businesses purchase rooftop solar systems, battery storage systems and hot water systems.
It resulted in the purchase of 96 rooftop solar systems, 49 battery storage systems and 10 heat pump hot water systems. This equates to 966kW of solar electricity generating capacity and 424kWh of battery storage.
For each solar system sold, a donation was made to support solar installations on community facilities.
This saw six solar systems, with the capacity to generate a total of 100kW of cost-free electricity, installed on community-managed facilities across the region.
It is projected that greenhouse emissions will be reduced by 1178.3 tonnes a year as a direct result of the program.
“Dan has made an extremely significant contribution to community education and sustainability initiatives in our region, lending his skills and knowledge toward bettering our region through his tireless efforts,” Councillor Belinda Moloney, chair of the Climate Change Action portfolio said.
Climate Action Award (Joint Winner)
Steve Turnock and Megan Discher – Barwon South-West Community Power Hub
Steve and Megan led a team that developed the Community Power Hub program, to support the delivery of community-owned renewable energy projects.
The program installed a 60.3kW rooftop solar system on the YMCA stadium in Newtown.
It is expected to generate around 190 kWh of emissions-free electricity daily, and save the YMCA about $13,000 a year on its power bills.
The project was funded by the Community Energy Revolving Fund, which provided an interest-free loan to the YMCA.
As this loan is repaid the available funds will be used to support other community projects that reduce carbon emissions.
“Steve and Megan’s tireless work has made it easier and more affordable for local organisations to make the transition to renewable energy,” Cr Moloney said.
“The pay-it-forward funding model presents a great opportunity for the benefits of the program to be shared.”
Waste Reduction Award
Geelong Sustainability – Geelong Circular Living Show
Geelong Sustainability delivered the Geelong Circular Living Show and Electric Vehicle Show ‘n’ Shine event, to raise awareness about circular living and sustainability opportunities.
More than 1200 people attended the interactive and informative event, with 35 exhibitors on hand to demonstrate products and services that can be used to reduce your environmental footprint.
It is part of Geelong Sustainability’s commitment to host engaging and informative events to help residents engage with circular living programs and products.
“They are informing and inspiring the community by showcasing solutions and highlighting how people can make positive changes in their lives,” Cr Moloney said.
Biodiversity Protection Award
Friends of the Bellarine Rail Trail – Bellarine Rail Trail Environmental Restoration
The Friends of the Bellarine Rail Trail are an active volunteer group that undertake regular works to improve the social and environmental values of the Bellarine Rail Trail reserve between Geelong and Drysdale.
The group manage weed outbreaks, undertake maintenance works and plant indigenous species (propagated from seeds sourced from the site) along 17 kilometres of the Bellarine Rail Trail.
Over many years, they have contributed more than 20,000 volunteer hours and planted more than 80,000 indigenous plants, helping to create a critical habitat corridor.
“The group has shown a significant commitment to improving the environmental and the recreational values of the Bellarine Rail Trail over a long period of time,” Councillor Jim Mason, Environment portfolio chair, said.