Jeremy and Kate live in a Pettit+Sevitt home, designed by Sydney architect Ken Woolley near the start of his career. Their house is on a steep block, surrounded by mature trees. The trees have grown over the years turning harbour views into harbour glimpses, but they like it that way.
We believe that the fact there are trees increases the value of property in Mosman. In a climate change world it reduces temperatures and gives us oxygen and all sorts of good things.
The natural environment has always been important to Kate and Jeremy. They were both involved in the long campaign in the 80s and 90s to prevent Sydney Harbour’s foreshores from being developed, which led to the establishment of the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust in 2001.
The family installed a small rooftop solar system back in 2009 to take advantage of the 60c feed-in tariff. But ten years on, their solar feed-in had dwindled to almost nothing and mature trees put the panels in partial shade for much of the day. Kate and Jeremy wanted a more efficient system but they were determined to keep the trees. After talking to Zero Emissions Sydney North they obtained quotes for a new system and chose Solarpro to install it.
A solution for shady sites
Solarpro recommended installing a 3.7 kW system comprising 10 LG Mono XL panels, using a Solaredge inverter, which could make the most of their tree-shaded, west-facing split level roof. The installation took half a day and cost $5,433, plus $650 for their old panels to be recycled. The new system generates nearly twice as much electricity.
The financial benefits of solar are not Jeremy and Kate’s key motivation, but their new system is already making an impact on their power bills.
Where does their motivation come from?
“From the soles of our boots”, says Kate, “to our heart and souls. We started bush regenerating and got gradually more and more concerned about the environment. We want to do what we can.”
School Principals gathered for the first meeting of Zero Emissions Schools Network – Mosman on February 17. Eight schools from Mosman LGA were represented, plus Cammaray Public School (North Sydney LGA).
Mosman Mayor Carolyn Corrigan welcomed the schools, along with Jenni Hagland, team leader for Zero Emissions Schools, Ursula Hogben, co-founder of Zero Emissions Sydney North, and the Mosman Council environment team.
The energy and enthusiasm was great to see. It was so interesting to hear what every school is doing and find out their motivation for joining the group.
The next meeting of Zero Emissions Schools Network – Mosman will be hosted at Mosman Public School on 19th May. I hope to get a speaker in to talk to the group about school composting and worm farms. This ties in with Mosman Public School because they have just got their gardens going and are working on composting at the moment.
Jenni is launching a regular email newsletter to the group. It includes news of grants, events and other relevant information. She also plans to build on the existing how-to guides and resources at Zero Emissions Schools. Look out for how-to guides on reducing waste and installing solar.
If you are interested in creating a sustainability group at your school the Zero Emissions Sydney North Schools page has a great range of resources to get you started. Jenni is also available for one-on-one consultations and you can contact her via firstname.lastname@example.org.
This Wednesday 17 February representatives from every school in Mosman come together to attend the inaugural meeting of the Zero Emission Schools Network – Mosman. The aim: to take action on sustainability. The Mayor of Mosman, Councillor Carolyn Corrigan, will launch this exciting initiative to help schools establish sustainability programs.
The aim, says Zero Emissions Schools leader, Jenni Hagland, is to motivate each other by sharing ideas and promoting best practice. Most importantly, the initiative aims to develop more schools sustainability action for communities and bring about broader awareness regarding the climate crisis.
Mayor Corrigan – Mosman Council Mayor, Loani Tierney – Environment Education Officer, Jenni – Zero Emissions Schools Network leader, and Ursula Hogben – Zero Emissions Sydney North Co-Founder, will be at the launch, along with all of the Mosman LGA schools.
Find out more
Watch this space to hear how the meeting goes and how the plans unfold. Meanwhile, you might want to visit Australian Parents for Climate Action. This national group campaigns for funding for solar on schools and childcare centres.
Can solar panel systems cause rooftop fires? A front page article in the Sydney Morning Herald today suggests there has been an increase in rooftop fires in recent years. Fire and Rescue NSW Superintendent Graham Kingsland says fires start in the direct current (DC) isolator switch, usually because of water getting in. The cause of rooftop solar fire risk is faulty installation or manufacture.
We asked David Veal, owner of Clean Energy Council-accredited company Solarpro, whether solar panel owners should be worried.
There are two reasons these isolators catch fire. First, water gets through the fitting because it is badly glued or not glued at all. Second, the wiring is not done correctly and left loose, or the polarity has been crossed.
Take a look at these two roof top isolators.
The isolator on the left is the cheaper of the two by almost $30. I have put some of the fittings below it. These are screwed and glued into the little glands above them. The cables are then fed into the fittings and manually wired into the isolator. This is fiddly and time-consuming. It is a perfect trap for human error.
All cheap companies use these isolators because they are scrimping and saving every dollar. Plus the contractor pays for the extra time wiring them up.
Quality costs a little extra and the devil is in the detail!
The isolator on the right is factory pre-wired, so it is guaranteed to be wired correctly and will not leak. At Solarpro we use these as our standard rooftop isolator and have done since they became available in 2014. With pre-wired ones the installers cannot get it wrong.
The conclusion: a badly-installed, cut-price DC isolator could be a rooftop solar fire risk. But if you use an experienced CEC-accredited installation specialist you can rest assured it will be well-installed and of good quality.
Zero Emissions Sydney North runs regular information sessions, via Zoom and in person, hosted by volunteers. We design them to help people make the switch to using renewable energy and rooftop solar.
Our next Solar My House Info Sessionis on Wednesday, February 24, from 6.30-7.45pm. David from Solarpro will be our expert guest speaker. Attendance is free but places are limited, so sign up here as soon as possible.
Community is an amazing thing! When Mosman Council decided to restart its arts and crafts market (after a COVID hiatus) a team of ZESN volunteers sprang into action by organising a low emissions market stall. We had three electric cars on display across the day, and electric bikes available to try out. Chris demonstrated how the variable speed pool pump can save money and Theo gave demonstrations of an energy audit kit. HUGE THANKS to everyone who worked so hard, especially Mosman Council. 10/10 would recommend!
For other low emissions market events please visit our events page. Or why not sign up to our newsletter and get regular updates! We are a not-for-profit association of volunteers operating as part of the national Beyond Zero Emissions network. Our focus is on practical projects designed to accelerate our transition to net zero emissions.
We offer webinars and information sessions so that you can reach your own low emissions goals.
We know we need to do things differently to reduce our emissions. We know we need to change. But how? Kid Power, that’s how.
“It’s really difficult to talk to adults and ask them to change,” says Jenni Hagland, leader of Zero Emissions Schools program. “I had this epiphany one day at the bakery. There was an adult in line with his bread bag. I said, ‘Oh, that’s amazing,’ and he said, ‘My kids make me do it, I don’t want to.’
“It made me think: get the kids doing it, then their parents will change. It’s so much easier to get adults to change when their kids are involved.”
Jenni Hagland is new to ZESN but no newcomer to change-making. She has worked on sustainability for more than a decade. In 2006 she began working for the Carbon Disclosure Project, a global NGO based in London, followed up by work for the CDP in Hong Kong. She moved to Sydney in 2016 and started the Mosman Public School Sustainability Club in 2018.
The club started small, fundraising for recycling bins, having ‘nude lunch’ challenges, turning off lights and installing LEDs. Then this April, after a year of planning and fund-raising, the school installed 50kW of solar panels on its roof. The system will provide 25% of the school’s electricity needs, saving $8,000 a year.
New to Zero Emissions Sydney North
Now Jenni has joined Zero Emissions Sydney North to work on sustainability in schools across the region, starting with a new range of resources available from the Zero Emissions website. There are practical, step-by-step guides to forming a school sustainability team, revving up your recycling and active transport, and making sustainability a part of the curriculum. Plus there are inspiring case studies from Mosman Public School and Manly Selective showing how young people are making change happen, and benefitting their schools and communities at the same time. Kid Power rocks!
“People overlook the impact kids have on their parents. You’re changing their behaviour at an early age, making them aware of the problem. These little people are going to turn into adults. I think it’s really important to make that not new or weird. It’s a part of their behaviour, and that will rub off at home, their parents will change, small business will respond to that, community will change.”
If you are inspired by these stories, if you want to help your school save money and carbon emissions, please get in touch.
A guest post from Robert Gavin and Di Elliffe, owners of Evie the Nissan Leaf, who recently took them all the way from Hobart to the Northern Beaches. Rob and Di participated in the Good Car Company‘s first community bulk buy.
We are not frequent car drivers. Our preference is for active transport – riding our electric bicycles and walking – around our hometown (Hobart) and when we are in Curl Curl we use our Brompton folding bicycles, and public transport for longer trips.
But, like most families, we occasionally find a car convenient … so when our existing fuel sipping car was due for a trade-in we took advantage of The Good Car Co bulk electric vehicle purchase of second hand imported Nissan Leaf sedans – and so Evie joined our household in May 2020.
The Good Car Co is a Tasmanian-based initiative giving Australians access to reliable, affordable second hand electric cars. Register here to find out how you could be part of their next bulk buy, or join us at ‘Accelerate your transition’,our free webinar on electric transport.
Evie is a 2017 Nissan Leaf with a 30kWh battery. When we bought her she had done 13,000 kilometres, and she cost $30,000 … effectively, almost a new car at just over half the price of a current model. Inside and out, she was in perfect condition, and The Good Car Co ensure the battery is at least 85% useable prior to purchase. The cost included purchase, shipping to Australia, conversion to Australian standards, and insurance while in transit – all handled by The Good Car Co.
Her first job was to help us move all our household goods into storage. The back seats fold down to provide a good volume of space (though a little odd in shape). Evie excelled at this task, quietly running to and from our store with countless loads of boxes. Around Hobart she averaged 7.2 kms per kilowatt hour (30 kWh battery, so a notional range of 210 kilometres, though in practice this was closer to 170 kms for us). We charged her at home where we had off street parking and access to a household power point and our own solar panels.
Her second job was to take us to Sydney in June. Being a city girl, a road trip was a bit of a stretch for a Nissan Leaf like Evie, but we quickly found that, as long as we were prepared to take it easy and enjoy the trip, the journey with Evie was a treat.
We stayed in a small B&B in Campbelltown, Tasmania, to break our journey to Devonport where we caught the ferry. This was because the distance between Hobart and Launceston was greater than Evie’s range, so she needed a slow (overnight) charge somewhere along the way. On our return, this will not be a problem because Campbelltown now has its own fast charger.
A fast charger will recharge a Nissan Leaf from low to full in 20-30 minutes. An overnight charge on a domestic power point (10 amp) will take about 12 hours.
In Melbourne we charged up in Coburg and headed North. Like Tasmania, Victoria does not have a well developed fast charging network yet. It was very frustrating driving past countless petrol stations along the way to the next fast charger. … When are we going to grasp the future?.
How to charge
Using the app “Plugshare”, we plotted our trip based on available charging stations. In Victoria we stopped at Seymour Park and then at a fast charger in Euroa. The Seymour Park stop was for three hours, and we had a great walk along the Goulburn river while waiting. An EV gets you fit as well!
Travelling at speed is a big drain on the battery, and we found our optimum cruising speed with Evie turns out to be between 85 to 95 kph. At that speed we could achieve a theoretical 150 km range comfortably. Given the slower travel speed, if an alternative route was available we would always choose it over the freeway. Fortunately, the old Melbourne to Sydney road is still running close by for much of the trip. It winds its way through the countryside and it is a pleasant, quiet and comfortable alternative road to use.
After spending the night in Wangaratta we headed off into NSW via Albury. Once in New South Wales we were pleased to find that the NRMA has a network of fast chargers to compliment commercial chargers already available. Plotting a route for an electric vehicle of a Nissan Leaf range all the way to Sydney is easily done. We stopped at Yass, ready to head into our destination the next day after an overnight slow charge.
On average we were charging Evie up three times a day to allow for contingencies. Just as well, actually, because we had a minor drama at Tarcutta where a fast charger was not working properly and we could not charge up at all … so we had to drive relatively slowly to the dog on the tuckerbox (Gundagai) for our next charge.
Slowly does it
While frequent fast charges are not a problem, doing four of them in one day sent the temperature of our batteries into the red zone. I learned to enjoy the slower pace the car is more comfortable with.
Entering Sydney, Evie came into her own and it was a pleasant drive from the South up to Curl Curl. By the time we reached our destination she had reached 6.9 kms per kWh, nearly the same result as suburban driving around Hobart. It cost us just over $20 for energy for the entire trip. Charging overnight at motels was included in the tariff, and NRMA fast chargers are free at the moment.
Living and driving around Curl Curl for three months, we have enjoyed having Evie there when we need her. In suburban Sydney she is achieving 7.6 km per kWh. We charge her up during the day, at home, taking advantage of home solar to get free energy from the sun. We charge up about once a fortnight. Best of all, it is really satisfying to know we are travelling in a Nissan Leaf without contributing anything towards global warming.
Our shopping centre has six priority spaces for electric vehicles (Stocklands, Balgowlah), so it is always easy to get a park. If we are going over 100km there is always a fast charger somewhere along the way.
Nissan Leaf: the verdict
In summary, a 30kWh Leaf is an ideal runabout for everyday suburban driving. It is easy to drive and has more than enough energy for a full day of commuting. Being 100% electric, the mechanics are simple and reliable. Nissan also produce a small electric van which can come configured with five or seven “fold away” seats. These are also imported by The Good Car Co at a good price. Although second hand, these cars look and feel like new. They will easily pay for themselves in fuel savings over their life.
The Good Car Co are a pleasure to deal with. Anthony, Anton and Sam are passionate about transitioning away from carbon based transport and they have worked out a successful business model that everyone (including the planet) benefits from.
Robert and Di are leaders in climate activism in Tasmania. They volunteer with Bicycle Network Tasmania and Coast Watchers. Their next big project is setting up Australia’s first community owned electric vehicle carshare for an apartment block in Hobart.
The Good Car Co is a Tasmanian-based initiative giving Australians access to reliable, affordable second hand electric cars. Register here to find out how you could be part of their next bulk buy.Or join us at our next EV webinar, where Anthony and Anton will be our guest speakers.
Since publishing this post, we’ve been able to confirm three electric cars and four electric bicycles will be at our first stall at Mosman Arts and Crafts Market on Saturday October 3. Come and see the Nissan Leaf and the Hyundai Kona (from 9.30am) and the Tesla (from 12.30pm) and chat to the owners about the driving experience.
For the curious, young and old, there will be hands-on exhibits, like a pool pump which could save you $100s of dollars, and a photovoltaic panel, converting the sun into power in real time. Plus have you seen the Tesla PowerWall battery in action? We’ve got an app for that, and you’re invited to come and play.
We’ll be there from 8am till 3pm, with information on ways to reduce your emissions ranging from rooftop solar to electric bikes to home efficiency tips. If you’re in the area, please drop by and say hello.
Many thanks to Mosman Council for their support, and don’t forget to sample the food, have a good coffee and browse the beautiful, hand-crafted jewellery, clothes and other treasures while you’re there.
Nearly 200 people joined Mosman Council’s online Climate Action Forum last night, where they listened to a stellar panel of guest speakers and government representatives discussing climate resilience.
The panel included:
The Hon. Matt Kean MP, NSW Minister for Energy & Environment and Member for Hornsby
Zali Steggall OAM MP, Federal Member for Warringah
Felicity Wilson MP, Member for North Shore
Mosman Mayor Carolyn Corrigan
Professor David Schlosberg, Professor of Environmental Politics at the University of Sydney and Director of the Sydney Environment Institute
Professor Ruth Irwin, Team Leader Sustainability, Mosman Council.
Dominic Johnson, General Manager of Mosman Council was Master of Ceremonies.
It was a lively forum with some insightful questions posed by audience members including representatives of Zero Emissions Sydney North. You can watch the complete forum here.
Zali Steggall MP explained how the proposed Climate Act will confirm a Federal net-zero-by-2050 target, which all States and Territories have already agreed to. Then she discussed how legislation has helped successful climate action in conservative-governed-UK.
Professor David Schlosberg talked about Australia’s potential to be a renewable energy superpower
Matt Kean MP and Felicity Wilson MP spoke about NSW State based actions including the new renewable energy zones
Professor Ruth Irwin presented climate facts and solutions. Both Ruth and Mayor Carolyn Corrigan spoke about Mosman Council’s actions so far. These include the 51 kW solar installation on the Marie Bashir Mosman Sports Centre, LED upgrades for all street lights, and informational videos on the Council’s website. They also offer discounted access to the Climate Clever app for all residents.
The panel spoke passionately about the need to support vulnerable people in our community who will be impacted by rising heat and unstable weather. They urged people to use their democratic power to vote for climate action.
The panel ended with a video of a Q & A with local school students talking to Matt Kean and Felicity Wilson. The video makes it clear that young people are well across the facts. They want to hear how we are switching to renewable energy, protecting our forests and animals. Creating renewable and sustainable jobs for their families and the students in the future matters to them.
Mosman Council’s three presentations from the recent workshops are available to view. To read more about Mosman Council’s climate action programs and initiatives, visit their website. And if you like what they’re doing, please tell them!
Did you know that most pool pumps run at more than twice the speed they need to for 99% of the time?
Chris Lee does. Chris is a volunteer with Zero Emissions Sydney North’s Home Energy Efficiency group and he has made a short video about how to dramatically improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your pool pump with a pool pump controller. It’s an easy fix which has an immediate impact on carbon emissions (and your electricity bill). If you’ve got a pool, it’s a no-brainer!
Check out Chris’s video here, and find further information below.