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Synergy’s Carbon Tax Charges

How to “opt-out” from Synergy’s unethical carbon charges

From the 1st July 2012, WA electricity retailer Synergy has decided to pass on the additional charges due to the Federal Government’s Clean Energy Legislation to ALL of their customers, including those who offset theirelectricity carbon emissions through EarthFriendly (also known as GreenPower).

While it is technically legal for them to do this, this doesn’t change the fact that it is unethical, and that there isno moral justification for why Synergy EarthFriendly customers should have to pay twice.

Here’s how you can“opt-out” from Synergy’s unethical carbon charges:1. Don’t cancel your EarthFriendly subscription. Generically known as GreenPower,this is still one of the best ways you can support the uptake of renewable energy inAustralia.

2. Calculate the cost of the carbon tax for your electricity. Don’t worry! Synergy hasalready worked it out for us:

COST OF THE CARBON TAX PER UNIT OF ELECTRICITY:$0.02255*

 

3. When you receive your next electricity bill, look at how many units of electricitywere used for the billing period. This number usually appears on the second pageof your bill, under the heading HOME PLAN (A1) TARIFF.

4. Multiply this number by the carbon tax per unit number above. For example, if you used 1200 units of electricity in the billing period:

1200 X 0.02255 = $27.06

5. Subtract this number from the TOTAL DUE figure shown on the first page of yourbill. This new figure is the amount you should pay.

6. Because you are 100% subscribed to EarthFriendly, you have alreadyaccounted for your electricity carbon emissions.1

7. Let Synergy know why you have paid this amount. The more people that objectto their unethical behaviour, the sooner they will realise their mistake.

*Sourced from Synergy. We have converted it from cents into dollars.

1 If you are not 100% subscribed to EarthPremium, you will need to adjust the amount deducted at Step 4 accordingly.

Email Sid to share your thoughts.

Putting our homes to the test!

We all know building sustainably and making the right environmental decisions for your home can seem complicated, so we’ve decided to show you how simple it really is using eTool LCA…

Alex Bruce our Business Development Manager and in-house renewable energy engineer lives at 1 Wylie Place in Leederville, Perth. As some of you may know, Leederville is a very trendy area north of the river with lots of mixed development houses, units, shops, restaurants, a cinema, supermarket and many other businesses.

It’s part of the City of Vincent and just one train stop from Perth Underground Station, a 10-15 minute ride from the office (20-25 minutes if you’re me) or a 10 minute drive depending on the traffic.

Alex’s townhouse is a two floor, double brick construction and part of a Strata complex built in 1986.
So to get the LCA started, Henrique inputs the number of bedrooms, the construction type, suburb redevelopment potential, design quality and expected occupants. All of this information helps determine how long the building can last in terms of durability and also the design life.

As you can see below, although the building can last up to 175 years, due to the redevelopment potential of Leederville as an inner city area of Perth, the design life is 70 years. When designing a new building, these factors are very important as they help determine what kind of design is appropriate for an area, for example you wouldn’t want your beautiful new home redeveloped in 20 years time now would you?

Once the design life has been calculated, Henrique goes through the design sketch and specs and adds all of the construction information. It’s a pretty lengthy process as with both a new build or retrofit, we have to account for every material, where and how they have been transported, how the building has been assembled, trade staff and energy systems.

Now that we have all of this information in the LCA, we can see what uses the most amount of carbon. Alex’s pie chart shows that the operational energy is the biggest factor, which is the day to day running of all the appliances and heating and cooling etc. After operational comes the materials and recurring factors which are roughly 18% each.

Instead of leaving it as is, we offer recommendations to best optimise the design and make it as sustainable as possible…

Henrique’s recommendations will help lower the carbon impact of the house through better material selection and construction methods and give you the best return on investment in the long run.
With both retrofits and new build, it’s very important to consider using the most efficient energy resources available. In Australia, solar hot water and solar PV are great options to generate electricty and hot water for day to day living, but there is a huge variety of clever alternatives for each climate zone.

As Alex is a renewable energy engineer, he was very keen to be self sufficient and generate enough electricity to run the house and sell the excess back to the grid. From the Operational Energy chart below, you can see the cost implications of running a home, and using eTool LCA you can calculate how much money your chosen energy system will save you every year.

For a detailed look at the results of Alex’s case study, click here.

If you want to make your home design or retrofit more sustainable, send us your projects details today!

eTool V2 is here!

eTool V2 was dreamed up even before we released V1, I think the idea of continual improvement is ingrained in the eTool psychie! But getting to the point of actually rolling out V2 has been a pretty long process. Our first step of course was to prioritise the improvements which was quite a task.  Although we would love to press the magic button and fulfil the “holy grail” of sustainable design (3D optimisation of thermal performance and embodied impacts of materials) baby steps are required.  We asked you guys what you wanted to see; surveys went out to past clients who we have conducted LCAs for, and also our users (who are growing in number and geographical diversity every day).

The key enhancements that people flagged for us were:

  • More reporting functionality (particularly involving costs)
  • More environmental indicators (not just carbon and energy use)
  • More transparent user interface (simpler, clearer)
  • More templates, materials and equipment options in our libraries

So this is where we’ve been focussing our efforts. If you log into eTool V2, you’ll see many features aimed at tackling the above key enhancements, and we’re not done yet! We will be continuing development on V2  until September.

Here’s a quick summary of what’s been implemented:

  • A better materials categorisation system and over 50 new materials to make selection easier.
  • Ability for materials manufacturers to submit their own materials for listing in eTool LCA.
  • Addition of new environmental impact categories (see this listed in the current release, we’re currently populating the data bases so these will become functional over time).
  • Default costs for all materials, equipment, grids and energy sources. As well as the existing detailed carbon and energy metrics, you now also get an LCA cost estimation by only entering in quantities of materials, equipment run time and operational energy.
  • Financial performance comparison chart for buildings to highlight maintenance and operational cost benefits or excesses.
  • Improved user interface for templates, and allowing “nested” templates for much faster LCA projects.
  • Share LCAs with other users.
  • More transparent and editable distance calculations for materials.
  • Annual energy cost summary.
  • Additional grids (all Australian grids now entered).
  • Expression builder for some fields e.g. you can now build a template for operational energy that takes the number of occupants and fully enclosed building area into consideration within a formula to calculate your energy demand.
  • Improved calculations and coefficients for better accuracy.
  • Ability to calculate operational water consumption.

And what’s still to come before we wind up development in September:

  • More reports!
  • Additional Environmental Impact intensities (e.g. embodied water, toxicity etc)
  • Regional LCI databases (data availability / access pending).
  • Ability to add custom distribution grids.
  • Still more templates, materials, equipment, distribution grids etc.

This article was written by Rich

 

eTool V2 Part 1 Complete

Our first step of course was to prioritise the improvements which was quite a task. Although we would love to press the magic button and fulfil the “holy grail” of sustainable design (3D optimisation of thermal performance and embodied impacts of materials) baby steps are required.

We asked you guys what you wanted to see; surveys went out to past clients who we have conducted LCAs for, and also our users (who are growing in number and geographical diversity every day).

The key enhancements that people flagged for us were:

  • More reporting functionality (particularly involving costs)
  • More environmental indicators (not just carbon and energy use)
  • More transparent user interface (simpler, clearer)
  • More templates, materials and equipment options in our libraries

So this is where we’ve been focussing our efforts.
If you log into eTool V2, you’ll see many features aimed at tackling the above key enhancements, and we’re not done yet! We will be continuing development on V2 until September.

Here’s a quick summary of what’s been implemented:

  • A better materials categorisation system and over 50 new materials to make selection easier.
  • Ability for materials manufacturers to submit their own materials for listing in eTool LCA.
  • Addition of new environmental impact categories (see this listed in the current release, we’re currently populating the data bases so these will become functional over time).
  • Default costs for all materials, equipment, grids and energy sources. As well as the existing detailed carbon and energy metrics, you now also get an LCA cost estimation by only entering in quantities of materials, equipment run time and operational energy.
  • Financial performance comparison chart for buildings to highlight maintenance and operational cost benefits or excesses.
  • Improved user interface for templates, and allowing “nested” templates for much faster LCA projects.
  • Share LCAs with other users.
  • More transparent and editable distance calculations for materials.
  • Annual energy cost summary.
  • Additional grids (all Australian grids now entered).
  • Expression builder for some fields e.g. you can now build a template for operational energy that takes the number of occupants and fully enclosed building area into consideration within a formula to calculate your energy demand.
  • Improved calculations and coefficients for better accuracy.
  • Ability to calculate operational water consumption.

And what’s still to come before we wind up development in September:

  • More reports!
  • Additional Environmental Impact intensities (e.g. embodied water, toxicity etc)
  • Regional LCI databases (data availability / access pending).
  • Ability to add custom distribution grids.
  • Still more templates, materials, equipment, distribution grids etc.

The Carbon Tax : Friend or Foe?

Many Australian families are understandably concerned about how much impact the carbon tax will have on their households, particularly when it comes to the cost of building a new home. Some housing and construction industry lobby groups continue to claim that the carbon tax will increase the cost of an average new home by over $6,000, but we’re not so sure.

One of our co-founders Richard has done the figures himself and thinks the cost is more likely to around $2,000 for the average Australian home, or possibly even less.

“Based on the available data, the average 3×2 brick veneer home in Australia creates around 80 metric tons of carbon due to its construction, operation and maintenance over its entire design life,” says Richard.

“If the proposed carbon price is to be $23 per ton of carbon, this equates to only around $1,840 as an additional cost for the average new home due to the carbon tax. The extra cost may not even be as high as that as many trade exposed industries such as cement, steel, aluminium and glassmaking qualify for up to a 94.5% shielding from the tax. The end cost to someone building a new home may only be around $100 for the average Australian home.”

Whatever the size of your project, there are lots of easy, cost effective ways to reduce the amount of embodied carbon and energy created by building a new home. “For example, you could specify fly-ash as a substitute for cement in concrete, which would significantly reduce the embodied carbon of a new home. There are a number of cost effective, low carbon building materials available on the market by making smart choices, the carbon tax will have a negligible cost impact on the construction of new homes,” says Richard.

Sid, our resident architect and managing director says that selecting low carbon materials is just the first step in preparing for a low carbon economy. “We should also be designing our homes so they require less energy for heating and cooling, have optimum orientation for solar hot water and solar PV, and be selecting energy efficient lighting and appliances. All of which will reduce our energy consumption and carbon production without compromising our lifestyle.”

But it’s important to start early and consider intelligent design at the planning stage as Sid explains, “these strategies are easy to integrate in the early design stages of a project, and will also create homes that are more enjoyable to live in and that will grow in value as home buyers increasingly recognise these as desirable design features.”

Both Richard and Sid argue that the housing and construction industry need to embrace this as an opportunity for innovation and excellence in the design and construction of new homes. “The transition to a low carbon economy is inevitable for all countries if we are to minimise the impact of dangerous climate change,” says Richard. “Prospective home buyers are becoming increasingly savvy about the design possibilities, and want to minimise their impact on the environment. This represents a fantastic opportunity for home building companies all around Australia.”

What do you think about the new carbon tax? Join the discussion on our Facebook page