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Towards Zero Carbon video series launched

Posted 7 December 2018 - 2:04pm

L-R: Peter Engelen, General Manager Planning and Infrastructure, NSW Ports; Ben Modra, UNSW Water Research Laboratory and CRCLCL Project Leader UNSW Professor Stephen Foster at Port Botany NSW. Photo: MediaKoo

Seeing is believing, and a new video series from the CRC for Low Carbon Living (CRCLCL) entitled Towards Zero Carbon illustrates how six years of innovative research is now becoming a reality.

Four videos kick off the series that reveals how CRCLCL research projects about ports, tourism, schools and buildings are lowering carbon emissions in all aspects of urban life. 

Low carbon coastal protection

Watch the video HERE

In a world-first project with NSW Ports, the CRCLCL has incorporated waste from coal-fired power stations into low carbon Geopolymer concrete barricades to protect the coastline at Port Kembla from extreme weather events. Aimed at validating the use of a special high-density Geopolymer concrete in marine environments, the 17-tonne Hanbar Geopolymer units will be monitored for stability and integrity, providing a valuable benchmark for the future use of this unique material.

Steel furnace slag (SFS) Geopolymer concrete is denser than traditional concrete and the holistic solution emits 50% less carbon making it suitable for extreme environments like ports.

Batching the concrete requires a unique supply chain and has involved the supply of specialist materials from Australian Steel Mill Services, Independent Cement & Lime and Wagners. Batching was performed using a conventional commercial plant, Cleary Brothers, allowing the concrete to be made near the site, to tight tolerances.

“In only three years we’ve taken a product that didn’t exist before, developed it in the lab, upscaled it and turned it into a commercially viable product – none of that would have been possible without the CRCLCL’s support,” said CRCLCL Project Leader Professor Stephen Foster.

The greater project, undertaken with Standards Australia, is working towards the publication of comprehensive guides for engineers on the specification, production and use of Geopolymer concrete. The project is supported by CRCLCL partners Ash Development Association of Australia and Australasian (Iron & Steel) Slag Association.

“The CRCLCL is an important enabler to help our association build a wall of knowledge around new materials so that we can move towards developing industry standards,” said project partner Craig Heidrich, Executive Director, Ash Development Association of Australia and Australasian (Iron & Steel) Slag Association.

Low carbon tourism – Blue Mountains

Watch the video HERE

The CRCLCL’s Low Carbon Living - Australia project has helped 80 Blue Mountains businesses significantly reduce their carbon footprint and led to a partnership with Eco Tourism Australia and a national rollout starting with the NSW Southern Highlands.

“Blue Mountains residents and businesses are focused on lowering carbon emissions because the area is experiencing major problems from climate change - more extreme and frequent bush fires are impacting on the region, tourists and residents so we needed to take action,” said CRCLCL project leader and Blue Mountains resident, Associate Professor John Merson.

Low Carbon Living-Australia supports businesses to calculate their emissions online, and lower their carbon footprint by reducing energy, waste and water use, while a local Low Carbon Living -Blue Mountains website allows residents and visitors to reduce their own carbon footprint by supporting local businesses who are reducing theirs.

Scenic World, Australia’s most visited privately owned tourist attraction has been part of the project since it began. Attracting one million visitors each year, the business has greatly minimised their carbon footprint by installing solar panels and feeding energy back in to the grid through their rides.

“The great thing about the Blue Mountains CRCLCL program is that they really got in and did a deep measure of Scenic World’s carbon footprint which helped us identify and focus our business strategy so that we could work towards really minimising our environmental impact,” said Anthea Hammon, project partner and Scenic World’s Managing Director.

Students changing their world

Watch the video HERE

The CRCLCL’s ClimateClever Program  is leading the next low carbon generation by teaching Australian school students how to measure and reduce their school’s carbon footprint. The ClimateClever Initiative is a low carbon, educational program underpinned by an innovative App that has already saved Perth schools almost $38,000 collectively on utility bills.

CRCLCL Project Leader, Dr Vanessa Rauland said there are no current benchmarks and few rigorous, data-driven programs targeting how to measure energy and water consumption and carbon emissions in Australian schools. Horizon Power recently partnered with ClimateClever to subsidise schools in Broome to join the program.

“We all want more control over our energy usage and electricity bills - this program also motivates students to implement similar initiatives at home,” said Horizon Power Retail and Community Manager, Jodie Lynch.

The program is now being rolled out nationally after the success of its two-year pilot program in Western Australia involving 8,729 students across 15 schools, resulting in 83 tonnes of carbon emissions being saved along with significant energy and water savings.

“There’s a lot of wastage occurring in schools through inefficiencies that could easily be prevented. Considering the constant budget cuts facing schools, there’s huge opportunity for financial savings both for schools and Education Departments,” said Dr Rauland.

Time to change the construction code

Watch the video HERE

The CRC for Low Carbon Living has funded research that proves energy standards in Australia’s National Construction Code must be urgently upgraded for new buildings to be fit for a zero carbon future.

Built to Perform, prepared by the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) and ClimateWorks Australia, shows setting stronger energy standards for new buildings in the Code could, between now and 2030, reduce energy bills by up to $27 billion, cut energy network costs by up to $7 billion and deliver 78 million tonnes of cumulative emissions savings.

The report points to a host of simple measures – double-glazed windows, better insulation and air tightness, outdoor shading and more efficient air conditioners, hot water systems and lighting – that could drive down emissions and costs.

"All of the buildings being built today will still be operating in 2050, so Australia’s Building Code needs to be ‘zero carbon ready’, ensuring that today’s new builds are prepared to operate in the future,” said CRCLCL Project Leader and ASBEC Executive Director Suzanne Toumbourou.

The outputs of the report, and the modelling completed by the CRC, are due to be considered by the COAG Energy Efficiency Council in December.

“The contribution of the CRC to the Built to Perform report has been critical to providing the evidence-base the Government needs to implement a building trajectory of its own for 2050,” said Francesca Muskovic, Policy Manager – Sustainability and Regulatory Affairs, Property Council of Australia.

CRCLCL CEO Scientia Professor Deo Prasad AO concluded by saying that the past six years of low carbon research will help the CRC meet its founding goal of 10 megatonnes cumulative reduction in carbon emissions by 2020, which in turn enables a projected economic benefit to Australia of $684 million by 2027.

“Our research collaborations with industry and government have proved that a low to zero carbon future is not pie in the sky as our research now becomes a reality and makes a real impact, which these videos illustrate,” he said.