Jeremy L. Caradonna’s new book, “Sustainability: A History,” finds that the notion of sustainability arose from early inklings in Western thought of the risks of over-exploiting the natural world. Caradonna, an associate professor of History at the University of Alberta, finds some of the first antecedents of our modern notions of sustainability in late 17th- and early 18th-century Europe.
Among his surprising discoveries is that many of sustainability’s forefathers were far from radical tree-huggers. They were, rather, aristocrats and colonialists—people hoping to profit from the land—who began to fear that the heedless plundering of natural resources could jeopardize the economy. The philosophy has since evolved in various directions; some now believe that social equity is a key part of a sustainable society. What the different offshoots share is respect for the planet’s limits—though debate will no doubt continue on the best ways to implement that principle.
Cardonna says: ” If you have a sustainability movement, you know you have a problem. The highlanders of New Guinea, who lived sustainably for 46,000 years, didn’t need a sustainability movement because they were just an inherently sustainable society. They had figured things out a long time ago. So the fact that people in Germany and France and England are talking about sustainability is a clue that something was going wrong. And the thing that was going wrong was that the society had been badly deforested.
“The guy who invents the term sustainability, or ‘Nachhaltigkeit’ in German, was Hans Carl von Carlowitz. In 1713, Carlowitz ws talking about the need to have a continuous supply of wood so that forges and mines can continue to function in Saxony.”
And on the matter of the fact that the concept of sustainability leaves a lot of room for interpretation, Caradonna adds: “It facilitates greenwashing for sure, because it’s a term that can be used and abused….What I think is fascinating is that it’s a really flexible discourse and allows for a lot of people to get into the tent together. And I think from a kind of political science-y point of view, it is useful and helpful to get everyone in the tent together.”
The Z-NET initiative was officially launched at McCrossin’s Mill, Uralla in late November, by NSW Parliamentary Secretary for Renewable Energy, Leslie Williams.
Uralla was selected from a field of five towns to be the case study and blueprint for Australia’s first Zero Net Energy Town (Z-NET) ~ aiming to satisfy all of its energy needs from renewable sources. The selection of Uralla ends a nearly six month-long search by the ZNET Consortium which is led by Starfish Initiatives.
The NSW Government have provided $105,000 through the Office of Environment and Heritage to fund the business case and blueprint.
Leslie Williams, the NSW Parliamentary Secretary for Renewable Energy, told ABC New England: “Uralla was successful because of its very strong support from the community, local business and local residents but importantly the local government sector.”
In an interview with RenewEconomy, Uralla Shire Mayor Michael Pearce said being selected as the first town for the ZNET initiative was a huge buzz. “It’s really exciting to have the eyes of NSW – the eyes of Australia, really – on us,” Pearce said. “It’s like being selected to represent Australia.”
A consortium led by Moreland Energy Foundation ~ together with ClimateWorks, Enhar, Percepscion, Little Sketches and economist Rod Marsh ~ were awarded the consulting contract to prepare the Z-NET Uralla Blueprint & Business Case.
Moreland Energy Foundation’s director of major projects Bruce Thompson said renewable energy projects such as this were part of major disruptive shifts to the way energy entered the market. “We know we need a renewable energy future, and the technology is here and now,” added Thompson.
The main on-the-ground work for Z-NET has now begun and will build to a period of intensive on-site work throughout the township from 20-24 February. The local Z-NET Uralla Reference Group (ZURG) is in the process of being formed and will meet for the first time on Saturday 31 January. A Household Energy Survey has been launched and will complement the business and infrastructure energy modelling that is already in motion.
The Z-NET website is now live and includes full details of the project.
The Uralla Z-NET Blueprint and Business Case are due for completion by June 2015.
Why Uralla wants to be first Zero Net Energy Town | REnew Economy
ZNET consortium appointed to map zero net energy town | The Fifth Estate
Town chosen for 100% renewables program | The Australian
A whole of town approach to renewable energy | ABC New England North West
Uralla pilots the Zero Net Energy trial | Northern Daily Leader
Small bumps on the road to 100% renewable energy | Crikey
NSW Picks its First Zero Net Energy Town | Sourceable
NCEF’14 was the fourth Forum held since 2010. It was a full house of 120 participants from business, government and the community. Its focus, as always, was to discuss recent and potential progress towards creating a sustainable energy system for the NSW North Coast.
This year’s Forum included:
- mapping the many existing projects in the region, the sheer number of which surprised most participants
four masterclasses ~ bioenergy, community energy, storage and selling energy
- a plenary session to begin working out how to go about creating a social licence for the bioenergy industry in the region (bearing in mind it is the energy source, or rather range of sources, in which this region has the greatest natural or competitive advantage
- an electric vehicle expo, featuring productiForum Outcomes on all-electrics and hybrids, as well as a scooter and solar charged bicycle
- the use of innovative POLL everywhere audience participation technology.
A number of initiatives have come out of this year’s forum, including:
- Utilitas’s extraordinarily generous offer to fund 5 bioenergy (anaerobic digester) business case developments to turn agricultural and food processing waste into electricity at up to $200,000 each
- Elevare Energy’s offer to fund the feasibility stage of a community energy project in the region, and
the idea of the North Coast being part of a larger EV charging station network stretching from Noosa down to Ballina.
For the full summary of Forum Outcomes see here.
Starfish is a proud partner of NCEF and has facilitated the Forum since its beginning. Starfish also provides NCEF with digital media services, governance and auspicing support.
Towards the end of 2009 two couples started an ambitious project promoting sustainability in urban living, which they named “The Green Swing”.
Until 2013 their main focus has been to complete a small scale, sustainable, inner city development called “Genesis” as well as setting up a framework (with Victoria Park Community Garden Assoc. & the Town of Victoria Park) to revegetate storm water drains in the Town of Victoria Park.
“Genesis” consists of two town houses and two apartments on a 837m2 block and within walking distance to the train station and shops. All dwellings were designed to make the most of the sun’s energy in the winter and to use shading, proper ventilation and thermal mass to dispense with air-conditioning in the summer. The design has resulted in very high energy ratings, including a 10 star!
This project showcases different construction methods: reverse brick veneer in one of the town houses; strawbale in the second town house; and double brick for the two apartments. The whole development is carbon negative (produces more energy than it consumes) and has shared rainwater and greywater systems.
Adjoining the site is the drain~ which can often been seen as a negative. However, sumps like this can take up a lot of valuable land in our urban area. Most are a hole in the ground with vegetation consisting of grass and weeds which is mowed a couple of times a year… and the whole thing is enclosed by an ugly looking fence. This has been turned into the Sump Community Garden
Imagine now how this site is being reshaped and used as parkland, re-vegetated with trees and shrubs, and potentially providing space on top of the banks for local food production.
The Green Swing team are now working on their third project, “The Siding”. “The Siding” will be a continuation of the vision for sustainability, again maximising passive solar orientation, high energy ratings and real community connection and lifestyle woven throughout the design and proximity to amenities.
For more details see ~ The Green Swing
Applications for membership of C4CE are now open.
Membership is open to all projects and organisations working on community energy ~ be they community groups, business, government agencies, research organisations and philanthropists.
Membership is the first step in a larger process for the formation of C4CE. The reason your membership is so important is because the next step in the process is nominations and voting for the first official steering group. Only member organisations can nominate individuals for a seat on the steering group and only members can vote for their preferred steering group representatives. In the next few week we will commence this process for appointing the steering group.
Click here to find out more or make your application for membership.
Collaborative Governance Charter
Starfish has completed work researching and designing the collaborative governance charter for C4CE. Collaborative governance is at the cutting edge of governance theory and practice. C4CE is using a voluntary and unincorporated structure, with the binding force being genuine mutual benefits and shared responsibilities throughout the membership.
A copy of the Charter can be found on C4CE’s website here.
Draft National Community Energy Strategy Launched
C4CE is excited to announce the launch of the draft National Community Energy Strategy. The National Strategy is intended as the shared agenda for everyone working to address the barriers and maximising the opportunities for a vibrant community energy sector in Australia. The final National Community Energy Strategy will be released in February 2015.
You can find an A3 Summary as well as a longer document (web and downloadable) here.
The Strategy incorporates the ideas, visions and views of more than 180 participants at the Strategy session of the Community Energy Congress held in June this year.
Does one of the initiatives outlined in the strategy sound like something you are interested to progress or are already progressing? Contact the C4CE secretariat if you are interested to be involved and link up with others working on making the initiative move forward.
Renewable Energy Target Campaign
Yesterday the Australian Liberal National Party Cabinet formally voted to reject the Warburton the Renewable Energy Target Review findings.
This is a major victory and testament to the hard work of passionate renewable energy supporters across the length and breadth of Australia.
However, the RET is not safe yet!
That’s why community energy groups across the country are organising to meet with their MPs.
If you haven’t yet made a plan to meet with your MP about community energy and the RET, please do so. C4CE can help, contact Manny Pasqualini who is working with community energy groups to help them get the best outcome from meetings with MPs.
While community energy is thriving overseas, Australia remains behind the curve.
Denmark Community Windfarm (DCW) has built a two turbine windfarm, with permission for two more, in response to locals wanting to build a small, community-scale windfarm that would:
- feed electricity into the regional grid
- improve the quality and reliability of the district’s power
- reduce the community’s reliance on fossil fuels
Nicky Ison, a senior research consultant for the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology, Sydney, stated that in 2009, there were just three or four community energy projects under development in Australia. Now, however, there are 10 projects operating and over 50 in development.
“Globally we are seeing huge innovation in the business models for renewable energy. Because of government policies in Australia, selling electricity into the grid for smaller community energy projects is not economically viable so these projects need to sell energy directly to electricity users,” Ison says.
In Denmark’s case, locals decided to form a limited company rather than a co-operative structure. The company issued 1.2 million shares at $1 each and it now has 116 shareholders, most of whom are local residents. DCW will pay its first dividend this year, after just 15 months of operation. Some of the profits will be returned to the community for other projects.
“We calculated that after the first year of operation we had provided 55 per cent of domestic electricity consumption, which was slightly better than our projections,” says DCW Director, Craig Chappelle. “In overall terms, we are providing 35 to 40 per cent of commercial, industrial and residential consumption for the entire district. It’s not bad for two little 800kW turbines.”
Not too bad at all!
This Invitation to Tender seeks one or more service providers to develop a Blueprint and Business Case for the creation of a Zero Net Energy Town in Australia, based upon a viable prototype in the Northern Inland Region of NSW.
Following engagement of the successful tenderer/s at the end of October 2014, delivery of the final Blueprint and Business Case is required by the end of May 2015.
Tender Open: Monday 1 September 2014
Tender Close: 5pm AEST, Monday 13 October 2014
To obtain a copy of the Invitation to Tender contact:
Adam Blakester | Project Director
02 6775 2501 | 0419 808 900
Read more about Zero Net Energy Town.
In 2009, archaeologists working in the heart of Berlin excavated the foundations of what is thought to be one of the city’s first churches, St. Peter’s Church, built in the early 12th century, in what is now the Petriplatz area. The church was destroyed during WW II and in its aftermath. The site where the once-grand Romanesque building stood is now little more than a wasteland—but that is set to change.
Due to the religious significance of the site, city planners asked local Protestants if they would like to be involved in the site’s redevelopment. But representatives of the Protestant community thought that another church was not necessarily the way to go.
What emerged instead was the the —an idea for a new building hosting a church, a mosque, and a synagogue—all under the same roof. If all goes according to plan construction will begin next year and the doors will open in 2018.
Each religion will have its own practice space, all equally sized but with different designs. There will also be a central room connecting the prayer rooms and providing an area where Christians, Muslims, and Jews can all meet, along with those of other faiths.
“We can see all over the world that faith can divide people,” said Markus Dröge, a Protestant bishop in Berlin. “We want to show that faith doesn’t divide Jews, Christians, and Muslims, but instead reconciles them.”
Find out more at House of One
The first draft of ISO’s standard for sustainable communities has been released for comment.
ISO 37101 sets out the requirements, guidance and supporting techniques and tools for sustainable development in communities.
The standard provides a management system for sustainable community development by a local organisation. In this way the ISO is about the development processes and methods rather than the many attributes needing to be addressed for a community to be sustainable, such as energy, local-ownership, food or transport (for example).
To quote: “This international standard is intended to help Communities become more resilient, smart and sustainable, through programs, projects and activities, demonstrate their achievements and better communicate them.”
It is designed to enable communities to manage their sustainability, smartness and resilience, improve the contribution of communities to sustainable development and assess their performance in this area.
‘Community’ is defined as being a: “Group of people with shared interests, experiences and values, and with an arrangement of responsibilities, organization and relationships and identifiable objectives. Such a community may not be in the same locality.”
Further, the ISO “… establishes the requirements of a management system for sustainable development, smartness and resilience of communities, taking legal and other requirements and relevant information into consideration, in order to:
- manage sustainability, smartness and resilience of communities, while taking into account the specificities of the territory those communities relate to
- improve the contribution of communities to sustainable development, and
- assess the performance of communities in sustainable development and their level of smartness and of resilience.”
The Committee Draft stage is the first consultation in the development (or revision) of an ISO standard, meaning ISO members that have chosen to participate in the development of the standard have until the 26th of August to comment on it. Final publication is set for 2016.
Find out this and much more in this video interview with Bernard Leservoisier, Secretary of the technical committee working on this standard.
Click here to purchase a copy of ISO 37101.
Starfish acknowledges the first peoples and traditional owners of the land that we live and work on in Australia and all around the world. We pay our respects to their ancestors and Elders ~ past, present and future. Starfish is committed to honouring and respecting first peoples’ unique cultural and spiritual relationships to the land, waters and seas, and their rich contributions to our communities and society-at-large.