Adventures with an environment-conscious inner-urban community
I received an email inviting me to a meeting with the Carbon Neutral Adelaide team. They were scoping out a number of sites for selection as a possible “Carbon Neutral Showcase Site” and Christie Walk was on the list.
This was very exciting.
An important goal at Christie Walk is to act as a sustainability model, to demonstrate what’s possible, and to motivate others to take action. Close cooperation with Carbon Neutral Adelaide would enhance that outreach work.
We received word that the Carbon Neutral Adelaide team would provide assistance to Christie Walk on the pathway towards becoming carbon neutral. We were offered a free consultancy with Suzanne Ridding of Sustainable Business Consultants for developing a carbon inventory. We were very enthusiastic about this offer because:
- Suzanne would provide the technical expertise to prepare an industry-standard carbon emissions audit.
- This would then be a baseline from which we would measure future efforts to reduce emissions as we head towards carbon neutrality.
- The public profile of Christie Walk would be enhanced, which would assist with additional promotion of Urban Ecology Australia site tours of Christie Walk, and so help us achieve our educational outreach mission.
After consultation with the Christie Walk community, it was agreed that we go ahead with data collection for the audit, creating a 2017 calendar-year baseline.
Suzanne Ridding presented her report to the community. Important outcomes were:
- “The efforts of the Christie Walk community to maintain a sustainable village are outstanding…”.
- Carbon emissions for Christie Walk for 2017 amounted to 50 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2-e).
- Electricity is the largest contributor to emissions (65%).
So efforts to reduce electricity consumption, through reduced grid-power usage and additional on-site generation, should be our key points of focus for future improvements.
The community decided that formal Carbon Neutral Certification was not a priority. The fees for certification and regular audit are very expensive, and we would also need to purchase carbon offsets each year. Instead it would be more constructive for us to use future funds for infrastructure improvements that further reduce our emissions.
For calendar year 2017, the carbon emissions for Christie Walk for 2017 amounted to 50tCO2-e. The challenge was on to instigate enough new sustainability projects that would whittle it down from 50tCO2-e to NetZero?
Lessons learnt along the way:
- Our emissions per person (just over 1.2tCO2-e each) are quite low compared with the average per capita footprint for Australia of 17 tonnes. But our emissions audit did not include travel such as commuting (in which Christie Walkers would be lower than average due to predominance of bicycle travel and walking). It also excluded overseas travel (in which Christie Walkers probably participate at a rate higher than average).
- Nevertheless, on a community scale, even small individual emissions do add up, and we have 50 tonnes to deal with, to reduce our impact on climate change.
- Our initial focus should be reducing electricity usage from the grid.
- Doing a carbon inventory for a community of 27 dwellings is not quick and easy. First you have to generate enthusiasm for the project, then get it adopted by the Community Corporation, then ask residents for copies of their bills for a year from utility companies. Some people are better at record-keeping than others… But it was worth the effort.
You can continue reading of our adventure with Episode 3 – Evacuated tube solar hot water boosters.
It’s part of our special series:
Aiming beyond NetZero at Christie Walk – Adventures with an environment-conscious inner-urban community.