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Green Smart Magazine : GreenSmart 2010
their corporate lives in Europe, and return to Australia to set up Green Return. Established last year, their aim is to provide home sustainability assessments to community groups and individuals, initially with help from the Australian government's Green Loans program. (As of 22 March interest-free loans are no longer being offered under the Green Loans program; however householders can still access a free home sustainability assessment by calling 1800 895 076 between 9am and 5pm EST Monday to Friday.) 'Once you help empower people with knowledge, they in turn work towards helping the planet,' Lara says. Energy & water According to Lara, Victoria's Target 155 water campaign has been the state's biggest recent success. 'People know what to aim for and can achieve great results, because they know they simply have to consume less than 155 litres of water a day,' she says. 'I think it would be great if the government set similar targets for electricity and gas usage,' she added. The federal government recently agreed to introduce tougher energy efficiency standards and labelling for a range of appliances and equipment. Buying a WELS (Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards) rated product has made reducing water usage easy by choosing taps, showers, toilets, urinals, washing machines and dishwashers that display a three- or four-star rating. A WELS three-star rated showerhead can use as little as 4.5 litres per minute compared to 16 litres for a non-rated showerhead. Our hip pockets will also be a little lighter with the government's financial support and rebates to homeowners who install energy- efficient hot water systems (including solar hot water), renewable energy systems, rainwater tanks (up to $1000) and greywater systems (up to $500). Starting this year, intensive hot water systems are to be phased out for all existing homes and the Building Code of Australia (BCA) now includes minimum standards for new homes to have five-star hot water systems. Lighting New lighting regulations in the BCA were announced recently, as part of the move from five stars to six stars in all new houses. As of May, all new buildings must adhere to a standard of five watts of lighting per square metre of the internal floor area, and use preferably compact fluorescent lights (CFL) and light emitting diodes (LED). This is in addition to the government's gradual phase out of all inefficient incandescent light bulbs, and introduction of minimum performance energy performance standards for light bulbs. The online market has many new energy efficient lighting products, and Lara greensmart 2010 55 Photo courtesy Solar Solutions Design Caitlin McGee (pictured left) lives in a 'climate positive' house which won the 2009 GreenSmart Home of the Year Award, in Sydney's Enmore. She says that passive design features such as double glazing and insulation make the biggest difference in her home, as evidenced by her latest quarterly electricity bill: it was $6. 'Don't assume you need a lot of money to make a difference. Many products that save energy are either very cheap or are to do with behaviour. If you're renting or can't afford solar energy, choosing accredited green power from your utility provider is an option,' she says. putting it into practise >