Perth Cultural Centre Summer Harvest & Planting Day

2013 Summer Urban Orchard Harvest and Planting Day

• A FREE event for gardeners of all ages

• Summer harvest & new crop planting in the Perth Cultural Centre Urban Orchard

• Organic Pest Control Workshop with Josh Byrne

Join us at the Urban Orchard for the 2013 Summer Harvest & Planting Day, hosted by celebrity gardener Josh Byrne (ABC TV’s Gardening Australia) and his team. This is a great opportunity to get your hands dirty and help this amazing roof top community garden grow. Remember to bring a hat, water and gardening gloves.

Immediately following the planting, Josh will share his expert tips on seasonal organic pest management to help your own garden flourish this summer. Want to know why your limes are dropping off early? Wondering what’s boring holes into your tomatoes? Feeling overwhelmed by fruit fly? Don’t despair – Josh has the answers. Bring along your curly questions and he’ll be happy to solve them!

This is a family friendly event for gardeners of all ages; however please note that children must be accompanied by an adult. Please bring a hat, water and gardening gloves.

For more information please visit the Perth Cultural Centre website.

Event: Summer Harvest and Planting Day and Organic Pest Control Workshop with Josh Byrne

Venue: Urban Orchard

Date: Saturday 16th February 2013

Time: Harvest and Planting: 09.00 – 10:30; Workshop: 10.30 – 11.30

Price: Free

Media_Release

British and Australian Sustainability Leaders Join Forces to Promote Low Carbon Building in UK

International leaders in sustainability are collaborating to utilise a new software tool that aims to revolutionise the way green buildings are designed, constructed and operated.

London based architecture firm HTA and sustainability social enterprise BioRegional – the pioneers behind the One Planet Living framework – today announced a new partnership with Australian environmental software developers eTool. The collaboration of architects, sustainability campaigners and environmental engineers into multi-disciplinary teams is fast becoming commonplace, with the new ‘business as usual’ putting the client and planet firmly at the top of the list.

Our One Planet Living framework is spreading around the globe, so it was natural for us to team up with leading innovators overseas like eTool that we can work with here in the UK and internationally. Improving quality of life at the same time as reducing our carbon footprint is part of everything we do, so to be able to accurately measure the impact of our development projects with LCA is an important step in learning the lessons, applying them to new projects and sharing them with others.”
– 
Pooran Desai – Co-Founder, BioRegional

The partnership will bring together diverse skills and knowledge of sustainable technologies and design solutions that have already proven successful in reducing the carbon footprint of buildings across Australia. Senior staff from both HTA and BioRegional will be trained to use eTool LCA, a web based Life Cycle Assessment tool that measures embodied and operational carbon, water, energy and cost of a whole building through its entire design life.

“It’s fantastic to work with companies that are as passionate as we are about what they do and are raising the bar in sustainable building in the UK. We’re extremely excited that eTool LCA will soon be integrated into projects overseas and demonstrate that low carbon design is achievable in all climates and regions, regardless of the weather or building style.”Alex Bruce – Director, eTool

With the government’s ambitious zero carbon 2016 target quickly approaching, newly accessible technologies such as whole building life cycle assessment represent a unique opportunity to reduce carbon impacts on a huge scale within a short period.

 “At HTA we try to be more than the sum of our many parts, bringing architecture, sustainability, and landscape disciplines together to produce high-quality sustainable places. We are delighted to be collaborating with eTool and BioRegional to extend our expertise into life-cycle assessment. We are keen to know more about the life-cycle impact of our buildings today which will influence the way we work tomorrow.” Rory Bergin – Head of Sustainability & Innovation, HTA

Bioregional’s award winning OneBrighton project will be showcased at EcoBuild 2013 in March and final eTool LCA results will be launched at the Eco Technology Show in June.

 

About eTool

eTool is a world leading life cycle software company that optimises building design for lower environmental impact and greater performance. Utilising their unique software eTool LCA®, they work with architects, engineers and developers to measure and improve the life cycle impacts of buildings, surpassing industry standards. From residential and commercial to development and infrastructure, eTool LCA® makes sustainable development easy to achieve and cost effective for all size projects.

 

Media Contact
Siobhan McGurrin
Marketing & Communications Manager
+61 (0) 8 6364 3805
Siobhan@etool.net.au

One Plant Framework

The One Planet Living Journey

Cundall is the world’s first consultancy to be formally endorsed as a One Planet Company by sustainability charity BioRegional. In this presentation Simon Wild will talk about how Cundall have achieved this endorsement including some of the challenging targets we have set against the 10 One Planet Living principles, originally developed by WWF and BioRegional. Mark Pitman will then explain how the have approached this in Perth and discuss how the One Planet Living Principals can apply to Western Australia.

During this seminar, you will hear about the successes, failures, lessons learnt, obstacles so far, and the challenges ahead to run a business within the resources of a single planet.


Attendance of this event will earn 1 GBCA CPD Point

When: Thursday 14 March, 2013 at 4:15 PM (WST)

Where: Level 1, 40-44 Pier Street, Perth

Tickets: Register here

 

gas v electricity

Are You Using Gas or Electricity In Your New Home?

We are passionate about reducing the carbon intensity of buildings first and foremost. It’s what we live and breathe, so we try to look at every consideration when putting our recommendations forward…we don’t take it lightly! Here we give some key considerations to help you make a sound decision when choosing between gas or electricity.

Industry and government have portrayed electricity as a clean and efficient source of energy, and it is, at the point of use. Perceptions of gas (sorry, “Natural Gas”) are similarly affected by public opinion and government policy that focus on the point of use. This ‘point of use’ perception is reinforced by the way most people interact with electricity and natural gas in their everyday lives, flipping a switch or turning on a burner and paying a monthly bill. They rarely see or understand the generation side of electricity, the power plant, or the extraction and transportation of natural gas or the ultimate carbon emissions associated with combustion.

The Life Cycle Story of Electricity

Apart from solar photovoltaic (still a tiny contributor to most electricity grids), all our electricity starts life on the output side of a turbine. These turbines are usually driven by steam, but there are some power plants that use wind or water (Hydro). So where does the steam come from? To make it we need heat, and lots of it.  At present we’re getting the overwhelming majority of this heat from coal or gas (the only real exceptions here are reactors that use nuclear power, geothermal plants that use the heat deep under the Earth’s crust, or solar thermal energy).

Coal is the cheapest form of heat for power plants, unfortunately though it’s also the dirtiest. The furnace exhaust of a coal-fired boiler is full of green house gases and also abrasive fly ash which renders it very unsuitable for heat recovery (it basically wears components out way too quickly to make it viable). In fact, most coal-fired power plants are lucky to capture one third of the heat energy as electricity.

When power plants use gas, there are two advantages. Firstly, burning gas releases less greenhouse gas than coal for equal amounts of heat (it’s still very bad for the planet, but not as bad as coal). Secondly, the waste gases produced from gas-fired turbines can be sent through a heat exchanger which drives a secondary turbine. The combined cycle gas fired turbines capture up to 60% of the heat and turn it into electricity (nearly twice as efficient as normal coal-fired plants).

Once the electricity is produced, we lose more of this energy during transmission and distribution. In Australia, about 7.5% of the electricity generated at the power plants is lost before it gets to the consumer. So when you look at the life cycle of fossil fuel generated electricity, you can see that we’re not getting much bang for buck.

There are also some other minor hidden impacts of electricity generation, although these impacts are very small compared to the CO2 released during combustion. They include:

  • Parasitic loads, which basically means they use some of the electricity generated to run the plant itself.
  • The carbon emissions associated with extracting the fuel source. This can be due to fugitive emissions (for example, methane that escapes from a coal seam as it is mined, crushed and transported, or gas that needs to be flared during processing)
  • The carbon emissions associated with transporting the fuel to the power plant
  • The embodied emissions of the power plant infrastructure

Using electricity in a building for heating water, cooking or space heating is the final step in the chain. The use of electricity at the home doesn’t add any environmental impacts (you don’t release any CO2 in the building, that all happened up stream).

The Life Cycle Story of Gas

Likewise, the natural gas used by a building must be extracted from the ground, processed or refined to remove impurities, and finally transported to the residence. All of these extraction, processing, and transportation steps require energy. And of course there’s the fugitive emissions of gas that escapes at the well, refinery or during transport. In total however, direct use of natural gas in the home is usually far more efficient than sending it to the power station to turn to electricity before returning that electricity to your home. The valid concerns regarding the latest significant source of gas production from “fracking” should not be discounted and may alone be enough to counter any climate change argument for the use of gas.

Of course when you burn gas you emit a lot of carbon dioxide at the building. In most cases however, you can capture a lot more of the heat than is usually captured by your electricity generator when they burn fossil fuels (particularly if they are relying largely on coal which is certainly the case in Australia). For example, good quality gas storage hot water units and instantaneous water heaters now run at 85% efficiency as opposed to coal-fired power plants (30%) and combined cycle gas-fired power plants (55%). So generally you get more “use” out of the gas by burning it on site.

Some Comparisons

Let’s now look at some examples of how electricity compares to gas in terms of local grid networks in different regions. Below we estimate the energy demand of an average house (2.4 people) and look at how that can be delivered with a range of technologies using both electricity and gas. We have chosen a number of regions to demonstrate the importance of local characteristics (largely relating to electricity energy sources).

  • Victoria:  Present heavy reliance on black and brown coal for electricity, standard gas supply impacts
  • Tasmania:  High renewable hydro content for electricity, standard gas supply impacts
  • Western Australia: The home of eTool, electricity generated largely by gas and coal fired plants with quite low thermal efficiencies, standard gas supply impacts
  • United Kingdom:  A fairly typical greenhouse gas profile for Europe (mix of gas, coal and nuclear with small but growing renewables content). Far lower greenhouse gas intensity than the average Australian electricity supply. Standard distributed gas supply impacts
  • Sweden: A very low carbon electricity grid. Gas supply not common, assumed standard distributed gas impacts

 

Cooking – Cook Tops

 

Technology

Assumed Technology

Efficiency (%)

End Use Energy Demand (MJ)

Greenhouse Gas Emissions (kgCO2e / Annum)

Victoria

Australia

Tasmania

Australia

Western Australia

United Kingdom

Sweden

Electric Induction

85%

1,273

492

140

343

219

24

Electric Element

75%

1,443

558

159

389

248

27

Gas Ring Burner

40%

2,705

167

163

186

186

186

 

Cooking – Ovens

Technology

Assumed Technology

Efficiency (%)

End Use Energy Demand (MJ)

Greenhouse Gas Emissions (kgCO2e / Annum)

Victoria

Australia

Tasmania

Australia

Western Australia

United Kingdom

Sweden

Electric

75%

481

186

53

130

83

9

Gas

60%

555

34

33

38

38

38

 

 

Water Heating

Please note that water heating load would vary depending on climate. For simplicity in comparison we have assumed a mild climate in the below energy demand calculations. We’ve applied the same demand across all regions so the carbon emissions are comparable between the electricity grids for the same demand profile (despite the fact there’s no mild climates in Sweden!). Similarly we’ve assumed the same solar radiation (an average of Australian capital cities approximately weighted by population). Note that the conclusions drawn below assume standard sized hot water systems with typical efficiencies, tank heat losses and solar collector size (where applicable).

 

 

Technology

Assumed Technology

Efficiency (%)

End Use Energy Demand (MJ)

Greenhouse Gas Emissions (kgCO2e / Annum)

Victoria

Australia

Tasmania

Australia

Western Australia

United Kingdom

Sweden

Electric Storage

99%

8,159

3,605

1,025

2,514

1,603

173

Gas Storage

85%

9,503

670

654

647

747

747

Gas Instantaneous

85%

7,357

519

506

501

579

579

Heat Pump (COP3)

300%

2,692

1,190

338

830

529

57

Heat Pump (COP5)

500%

1,615

714

203

498

317

34

Solar, Electric Boost

8,138

927

372

692

496

189

Solar, Gas Inst. Boost

6,489

250

247

246

263

263

 

Note that in many mild climatic regions families can successfully turn off their boosters for solar hot water systems and run on 100% solar.  The above calculations however assume “average” use of the system, so the booster is left running and switches on whenever the water temperature drops below the set point.  There is also a requirement for hot water systems to periodically heat themselves up to a high temperature to ensure that legionnaires diseases doesn’t get established, so this also influences energy use regardless of hot water demand.

Space Heating

The following figures assume a conditioned space of 180m2 and a heating energy requirement of 50MJ/m2/year which about average for a new compliant house in Perth. For simplicity in comparison we have assumed the same ambient temperature in different regions to calculate the below technology efficiency.

 

Technology

Assumed Technology

Efficiency (%)

End Use Energy Demand(MJ)

Greenhouse Gas Emissions (kgCO2e / Annum)

Victoria

Australia

Tasmania

Australia

Western Australia

United Kingdom

Sweden

Elec. Air Source Heat Pump (COP4)

400%

2,591

1,002

285

698

445

48

Elec. Air Source Heat Pump (COP5)

500%

2,058

796

226

555

354

38

Gas Heater, Flue, High Efficiency

75%

13,333

822

803

795

917

917

Wood Pellet Heater

95%

10,526

25

25

25

25

25

Is This Enough Information to Make a Decision?

What about if our grids use more renewables, and the carbon intensity reduces?
This is a really valid point that needs to be considered carefully. If the advantage of using gas is marginal, definitely think twice about implementing it over the electrical option. We know that as governments respond to climate change the carbon intensity of electricity grids will drop, quickly eroding any advantage that the gas solution may have had. Australia is lagging a little in this regard; we’re a very large emitter per capita and have secured some of the easiest targets to obtain in our Kyoto negotiations. That said, the government has committed to reducing total greenhouse gas emissions by 80% on year 2000 levels by 2050. That’s only 37 years away and most buildings we knock up today will still be around at that point. With this in mind, there needs to be a very clear advantage in using gas over electricity to justify its use.

There is a slim possibility that existing gas networks may be utilised for distributing renewable gases. This is already happening in some innovative communities where sewer gas is being collected, refined and sent back to apartments for cooking. This may somewhat alleviate any concern building designers may have been encouraging the use of what is essentially a fossil fuel network (natural gas) over electricity grids that can be more easily transformed to renewable sources.

What About Solar Electricity?

Now begins the philosophical debate. If you have a roof top solar PV system large enough to meet all your home energy demands with 100% clean renewable energy, would you use gas or solar electricity for your heating sources?
Electricity seems the obvious choice. Interestingly though, it may not be when you look at the net benefits of choosing each option. Let’s say with your solar PV system, you are energy neutral, that is you use as much as you generate. Of course you need to export into the grid in times of high generation, and import when your usage outpaces your production, but over a whole year you’re energy neutral.

If you’re doing this whilst cooking with electricity and then you swap to gas, you’ll be using a little more energy in the building as your gas cooking appliances aren’t as efficient as electricity. That said though, you’ll be exporting more electricity as you’ve displaced some demand with gas. These electricity exports will be reducing the demand for the normal fuel sources used by your generators. If this is coal, then the net result will be better for the environment as your greenhouse gas “credit” for exporting electricity will be bigger than the impact of using gas at the home. There are numerous variables that you may want to consider here, the most important of which is probably when you’re exporting and importing and how that relates to the generation of fuels being employed during those periods.

Researched and written by Henrique Mendonca and Richard Haynes

 

Research Sources

http://www.climatespectator.com.au/commentary/its-time-rip-gas-networks

http://renomart.com.au/gas-and-electric-cooktop-guide/

http://www.c2es.org/publications/natural-gas-commercial-buildings

http://www.c2es.org/publications/natural-gas-residential-sector

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Induction_cooking#cite_note-19

http://www.choice.com.au/reviews-and-tests/household/kitchen/ovens-and-cooktops/cooktops-buying-guide.aspx

http://theinductionsite.com

http://www.fishnick.com/publications/appliancereports/rangetops/Eneron_Pot_Testing.pdf