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L-R: Leo de Jong, Karen Roberts, Kate Shaw from Sustainability Victoria, Adam Cole and Kevin Mason. Picture: DONGYUN KWON

By Dongyun Kwon

Healesville Community Renewable Energy Inc (HCoRE) and the Badger Creek Community Hall (BCCH) committee signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for energy efficiency upgrade at Badger Creek Community Hall.

HCoRE president Karen Roberts and BCCH committee president Kevin Mason signed the MOU on behalf of each group on Tuesday 13 February.

HCoRE received a grant from Sustainability Victoria as a result of an election commitment in the 2022 Victorian State Election to build on and extend their community clean energy education work, supporting the Victorian Government’s goal to transition to net-zero emissions.

“By November 2022, we’ve been around for about five years, we’ve done a lot of work in the community, and we were known by a lot of people,” Ms Roberts said.

“In November 2022, we found out to our amazement that HCoRE is one of the three local groups in the Yarra Ranges that have been selected for this unexpected windfall.”

“We did look at many different options, what to do with the money, how to spend it, and we decided to retrofit a community building and a community hall, and try to make them more energy efficient, bring their power bills down, which of course brings down their emissions.”

BCCH will get some of the $60,000 grant to upgrade the energy efficiency of the hall.

BCCH committee member Adam Cole said they are going to replace the heating and cooling system of the hall with support from HCoRE.

“We’ve got a couple of gas furnace heaters in the hall and they’re gonna get replaced with split cycle air conditioners, so they’ll be inverter type heater and cool,” he said.

“Our gas hot water service has been replaced by a heat pump electric hot water service.

“We’re going to get new heavy window coverings and pelmets and we’ve got a lot of small vent holes and cracks around the building that need to be blocked up to stop the loss.”

Other than the BCCH upgrade, there are two more projects that HCoRE has been working on with the grant.

“We’re also using the money on the commitment to a private community residence that’s been purpose-built by a community housing organisation and houses three tenants who are struggling with their power bills, but it seemed like an ideal opportunity to upgrade the house,” Ms Roberts said.

HCoRE technical manager Leo de Jong said HCoRE has also trained a group of home energy efficiency advisors to go around people’s homes and assess them for energy efficiency to reduce their power bills.

“We’ve got an advisory group that goes to people’s houses if they’re interested in making the house more energy efficient, reducing their power bill and also making the house more comfortable,” he said.

“So far, we have assessed around 40 properties in the Healesville area and we hope to assess many more this year.

“It’s a valuable service that is free for our members and available to the wider community for a small one-off fee.”

Sustainability Victoria regions and community action director Paul Murfitt said it was wonderful to see the strong local connections of HCoRE and how these connections are facilitating broad community impact through the two energy efficiency upgrade projects they are undertaking as part of the grant.

“The partnerships HCoRE has with the Badger Creek Community Hall and with a local community house will see direct benefits for the local community in regards to reduced bills, increased health outcomes through the energy efficiency upgrades and reduced carbon emissions,” he said.