Sustainability

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Australians know that using energy and water wisely in their homes saves money and helps the environment. On a per capita basis, however, our energy and water use are amongst the highest in the world and continue to climb.

Almost every home has the potential to save more. By knowing how your energy and water use compares to other similar homes --- and where the biggest savings are --- you can make changes that deliver benefits now and in the future.

To be sustainable, we need a balance between our economy, our society and our environment.  The MidCoast population is continuing to grow, placing pressure on our human and natural environments, health and wellbeing, infrastructure, services and industries.

MidCoast Council has a lead role in ensuring this region is heading towards a sustainable future.


Greywater Reuse

Greywater is the water produced from activities at home - showers, baths, spas, laundry tubs and washing machines. Waste water from your toilet is called 'black water' and is not permitted for re-use. Water from your kitchen sink and dishwasher is also not recommended because it often includes grease and food particles and may have high pH levels.

If used appropriately, you can water your garden with greywater and save up to hundreds of litres of fresh water each day. And if treated appropriately, it can be reused in toilets and washing machines.

Benefits of Greywater
    * Reduces the demands on our potable water supply
    * Helps reduce annual water bills
    * Provides an alternative water source for watering gardens in times of drought

Disadvantages of Greywater
    * If not re-used correctly, greywater may have undesirable health and environmental effects
    * Installing a greywater system by a licensed plumber does incur a cost
    * On-going maintenance

It is very important to following our guidelines when installing greywater devices and systems to ensure the health and safety of your household and community is protected. More information about how to use greywater safely is outlined in the fact sheets below obtained from Department of Energy, Utilities and Sustainability


NABERS - National Australian Built Environment Rating System

The National Australian Built Environment Rating System, or NABERS, is a government environmental performance rating tool. NABERS HOME is uniquely designed for Australian households and will help you understand how energy and water are used in your home and take action to make improvements.

NABERS HOME enables Australian households to:

    * review how much energy and water are used at home;
    * compare this to national benchmarks;
    * learn about energy and water saving opportunities; and
    * save money and help the environment.

The NABERS HOME Rating rates the energy and water use of Australian homes from 0 to 5 stars, with 2.5 stars reflecting average performance, and 5 stars representing an outstanding home.

To rate your home and find out further information visit the NABERS Homes web pages.



Rainwater Harvesting

The rainwater harvesting systems at the Gloucester Livestock Exchange (Saleyards) and the Gloucester District Recreational Centre have been initiated by Gloucester Shire Council as a model for saving water. Both projects are large scale rainwater harvesting systems designed to minimise town water use by utilising the existing roof to collect rainwater for later use.

How does it work?

The basic steps behind the rainwater harvesting system implemented at the Gloucester Livestock Exchange (Saleyards) are as follows;
Step 1- rainfall on the selling ring roof and is collected by the smaller tank.
Step 2- the collected rainwater is then pumped up to the larger tank on the north-eastern side of the complex
Step 3- the water in the larger tank is allowed to gravity feed into the complex filling up the water troughs
Step 4- in times where rainfall cannot meet the demand, the larger tank will be kept at a minimum level from mains water through a "tank top-up" system.

Top water saving tips

1. Reduce water usage
One of the simplest ways to save water is to use less just by changing a few habits. You can do this by reducing shower times (and don't shave or brush your teeth in the shower!) and by flushing the toilet less often-the adage ‘if it's yellow, let it mellow, if it's brown, flush it down' applies here-unless that's too gross for you!

2. Fix leaking toilets
Leaking toilets can waste a lot of water-up to 10 litres per hour or more. If you can visibly see water flowing into the bowl, or hear the cistern ‘hissing' as water flows into it to replace what is leaking, then you should get it fixed immediately.

3. Fix dripping taps
Like a leaking toilet, a dripping tap can waste a large amount of water-up to 10 litres a day or more for a fast drip. Having new tap washers installed is usually all that needs to be done to fix the problem.

4. Convert your toilet to a reduced flush
Reducing the quantity of water flushed by your toilet is very easy, and can be as simple as filling a two-litre soft drink bottle with water and placing it inside the cistern. If you need to replace your toilet suite, then make sure you get an ultra-low flush toilet like the new 4.5/3 litre units that are now available. Alternatively, consider a composting toilet if your out of town.

5. Install a AAA rated shower head
There is a huge range of AAA (or better) rated shower heads available. A trip to your local hardware or home renovation store will provide many options, and some stores are even set up so that you can test the flows of the most popular models.

6. Install flow restrictors
Flow restrictors fit either inside the tap or on the tap to reduce water flow. Sink swishers make much better use of the reduced water flow than a standard tap, allowing tasks like rinsing of dishes to be done more efficiently with less water, just like a water saving shower head.

7. Install a rainwater tank
No matter where you are in Australia, a rainwater tank can at least partially offset your mains water usage.
A rainwater tank can collect many thousands of litres of water each year. What size of tank you install will depend on the available space, the size of your roof, and rainfall patterns in your area.

8. Install a drip irrigation system
A drip irrigation system, especially a sub-surface one, can save a great deal of water in the garden compared to hand watering with a hose and spray gun. Drip systems allow you to get water directly to the plants' roots with minimal evaporation, and they also allow you to use recycled water at lower risk of potential health issues.

9. Reuse your greywater
Whether you use the simple ‘bucket' method to collect greywater, or have a complete greywater collection and reuse system installed, reusing this valuable resource can greatly reduce your water use.
It makes very little sense allowing water that has only been used to rinse clothes in a washing machine (unless you are washing nappies), or rinse a human in the shower, to go straight into the sewer.

10. Buy efficient appliances
New appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers have water ratings labels on them that tell you how much water they use. If you have an appliance that needs replacing, then you should look for a machine that uses as little water and energy as possible.


Save Power Kits

Our Save Power Kits are a great way for you and the family to save power, reduce your power bills and help the environment.

Each kit has tools and instructions to help. The Save Power Kits are part of the NSW Government’s Save Power Program.

Residents can borrow these kits free of charge from your local MidCoast Library branch.

What's in the Save Power Kit?

Power-Mate Lite

This shows you how much energy anything with a plug is using. It tells you how much power is drawn each hour, or day or year.  It also tells you how much it costs to run over that time, and how much greenhouse gas is being produced. You enter your kWh costs and the machine does the rest.  The worksheet guides you through measuring and saving energy from your fridge, TV, washing machine, dryer, and other equipment, including how much power is being used on stand-by.

Infrared Thermometer

The Infrared Thermometer points out the draughts in your home which are letting in the winter cold and summer heat, making your heater and air conditioner work harder. Point the infrared thermometer at windows and doors and it will measure the surface temperature, identifying changes which show draughts.

Save Power thermometer

This is an ordinary thermometer with Save Power markings showing the recommended temperature settings for fridges, freezers and living areas. Simply leave it for 15-30 minutes where you want to check the temperature and use the handy guidebook to tell whether the temperature is set right or whether you can be more efficient.

Stopwatch

Hot water is usually the biggest power user in NSW homes. Use the stopwatch to work out how long you - or other members of the family - are spending in the shower and how much hot water you are using. Shorter showers save power and water.

Compass

Which direction does your home face and why does it matter? Work out which rooms and windows face north and west with the compass so you can ensure you make the most of the sun in winter and save money on cooling by shading them in the summer.

Guidebook, worksheet and action plan

The kit comes with a great guidebook, worksheet and action plan for every borrower to get you started and record your measurements. Follow the advice and tips and identify the many simple ways for you to start lowering your power bills right away.



Water Sensitive Design

The Water Sensitive Design consideration currently only applies to developments in the Great Lakes Region.

We are committed to reducing the impact of stormwater on the health of our waterways by using Water Sensitive Design (WSD).  Water Sensitive Design is an approach to development and re-development that integrates the whole water cycle into the design (stormwater, groundwater, waste water and supply). This approach improves water quality and manages the volume of water leaving a development, reduces our overall demand on water sources and minimises the pollution entering our waterways.

 More information on water sensitive design