As more people in our communities want to lower their emissions and our work expands, we are very keen to hear from you and your friends.
Drop us an email or give Lesley a call on 0410 621756. We can talk with you about your interests and skills, our needs and what we could do together. Rest assured, we will support you with training/mentoring for a specific job. Online, face-to-face at a market, or even letterboxing while you’re exercising.
Dogs welcome but not essential!
It’s been a week of winning prizes and kicking goals.
Meanwhile, north of the Spit Bridge, a range of local heroes in environmentalism on the Northern Beaches gathered last week for the Council’s annual Eco Awards. Legends such as Phil Colman, who has dedicated his life to protecting Long Reef, and Brendan Donohoe, dogged campaigner for better care of our coast and ocean. As Brendan says, “Use science and tell the truth”. Words to live by.
Other winners included: Rosalynd Gooding, who successfully fought for the purchase and preservation of Hillside Road Littoral Rainforest; 17 year old Stephanie Jackson, founder of ‘Seas of Change’; and Joan Reid, who has been a volunteer with Sydney Wildlife Rescue for over 14 years.
Ann-Charlott Paduch and Harriet Cunningham were thrilled to accept the award for Sustainability and Climate Change on behalf of Zero Emissions Sydney North, and equally thrilled for Anyo Geddes & Sophie Scamps, our friends from Our Blue Dot, highly commended.
In the words of Northern Beaches Mayor Michael Regan, the Eco Awards awards “celebrate ordinary people, the unsung heroes, doing extraordinary things for the conservation of our environment and recognise community members who have volunteered their time and effort to enhance the region’s diverse and valuable, natural habitat.”
In the words of Harriet Cunningham: “Prizes are nice, but that’s not what we’re in it for. The best thing is being in the same room as all these inspiring people and knowing with people like this in the world, we can make a difference.”
Last Saturday we had electric cars, an electric motorbike, electric bicycles and electric scooters on display. Some were available to test drive as well (although only for those with a licence, sorry).
Harriet here, aka email@example.com. Do you want to volunteer for Zero Emissions? I’ll be setting up a jobs page on this website as soon as I get the time but, for now, a quick blogpost about some specific roles we’re looking to fill in our brilliant Zero Emissions Sydney North community.
I wish, I wish for…
1. Tent wrangler
What: Packing up our market stall and driving the kit to local storage.
How long: 1 hour
How often: Once a month
On the first Saturday of each month we have a stall at Mosman markets. We pack up around 2.30pm, and we are looking for someone to help. Ideally, you are handy, fit, don’t swear too much, and have the use of a car so that you can help our volunteers dismantle the tent, pack up the bits and pieces and drive them to our storage spot round the corner in Mosman.
What: Curate our instagram account with fun pictures, sassy comments and links to our events / programs
How long: A few minutes a day and a fortnightly meeting on zoom
How often: 4 or 5 times a week
Social media is central to how we keep in touch, network and promote our activities, and at the moment we use Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Our brilliant insta curator, Camilla Tilly, has gone to Sweden to work with the groundbreaking agricultural cooperative Lantmannen. It’s a tough act to follow, but if you take good photos, want to make a difference, and don’t mind checking in with our comms manager (me) once a fortnight, please get in touch.
What: create video case studies to bring our solar stories to life
How long: Not gunna lie, I know this is very time-consuming. Every bit helps.
How often: completely up to you
Video case studies are incredibly useful for articulating how adding solar to your roof makes sense. We have some budget to pay for video services, but not nearly enough to create the five videos clips we are aiming in 2021. This is a big ask, but it also makes a big impact.
What: help out program leaders when they’re overwhelmed. Might be making cups of tea or picking up printing or sending some emails or walking a dog…
How long: how long is a piece of string?
How often: up to you, but a couple of hours a month would be great
If you’re between jobs, between uni studies, or just have a bit of time now and then and are happy to put your hand to anything, we’d love to hear from you. Volunteer with Zero Emissions.
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.
The pictures tell the story. In just a year, Zero Emissions Sydney North has held more than 20 Solar My House parties and webinars, two Electric Vehicle webinars and a Solar Open House day. Our volunteers have attended Mosman markets, delivered flyers and hosted parties. After lengthy research, we have partnered with two businesses with renewable energy at their core.
We’ve built a core group of volunteers and found friends and colleagues across local government and not-for-profit organisations. We’ve won two grants and helped people put more than $250,000 worth of solar panels on houses in the Northern region of Sydney. This is roughly equivalent to planting nearly 5000 trees, or saving of nearly 2 million kilometres of fossil-fuelled driving!
All that remains is to say thank you to all the brilliant people and organisations who have walked alongside, including:
Our Advisory Team and all the individuals and businesses who have said ‘yes, sure, what can I do?’ And last but definitely not least, a heartfelt thanks to all our amazing volunteers, many of whom star in the video.
We are a not-for-profit association of volunteers working across the Northern Beaches and the North Shore. We operate as part of the national Beyond Zero Emissions network. Our focus is on practical projects that will accelerate our transition to net zero emissions.
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.
What rebates can I get on solar panels? How much does it cost to install rooftop solar? How do I choose a reputable company? Are batteries worth the money? And what’s with these Facebook ads for cheap deals?
Bring all your questions to our free Solar My House webinar at 6.30pm on September 16, 2020. Hosted by volunteers Ann-Charlott and Ursula, with the expert input of solar guru David Veal from Solarpro, this relaxed and friendly info session aims to get you up to speed on rooftop solar and show you how you could save money on power bills and help the environment.
We’ve already helped 100s of households start their solar journey. Here’s what some of them have said:
I thought the evening was honestly great. For me it removed any barriers to entry with making the switch, mostly around research, clarity and options. I thought the good, better, best approach was perfect. Thanks so much for starting this clever, helpful and powerful (no pun intended) initiative.
I love the fact that you guys are getting up and doing something when so many others just worry but never take action. It is exciting to have a target to work towards for our region. I love the fact that you have built in a ‘giving loop’ and plan to install solar for various charities to allow them to focus their funds on their core work, while simultaneously reducing emissions. Simply brilliant!
Tania Tan is a climate action leader. She wears many hats: marketing guru, technical whizz and small business owner. Her ambition is to leave this world in a better shape for her kids. Volunteering with Zero Emissions Sydney North is just one of the ways she is pursuing that ambition.
“We got solar panels about 12 or 13 years ago. Then when we reclad our house we put in extra insulation. Now we have switched one of our cars to an electric car and installed water bladders under our deck. No matter how small your piece of land, there are creative ways of living more sustainably. And always thinking about buying local and living the three Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle.
no matter how small your piece of land, there are creative ways of living more sustainable.
“I’ve worked as a graphic designer for most of my life and I have a computer science degree, so I worked in IT for a while. At Zero Emissions I help with social media on the advertising side and also I look at strategy going forward.
“I want to be leaving this world in as good as or better shape for our kids than how it is for us. There is no planet b. Even if there’s the tiniest possibility that carbon emissions are causing our planet to heat, we have to act on that.”
You can meet Tania and see her electric car – a Tesla – at Mosman markets, on the first Saturday of the month. Her climate action work is essential to our social media pages (including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram). If you like what you see, please like / repost / retweet / comment / engage. It all helps towards reaching more people.