We know we need to do things differently to reduce our emissions. We know we need to change. But 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 been directly involved in 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.

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.

“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.

 

Cool but sunny. A perfect day to show off two solar installations in Manly. Many thanks to generous householders John and Dof, who welcomed people to their homes and answered all the questions.

How much did it cost? What does it look like? How much space does it take up? How long did it take to install? What are your bills like? Would you recommend your installers? Would you do anything differently? And how do I get that amazing app?

Thank you to all the people who came visiting and we hope you found it useful. Hopefully this can be the first of many Solar Open Days. And if you’ve got rooftop solar and would like to demonstrate it, let us know.

Solar Open House, August 23, 9am-12pm

Thinking about solar but not sure where to start? Drop by and meet the locals in two Manly homes that have installed solar. They’ll share their costs, electricity bills and payback times, show you their solar systems and answer any of your questions. 

WHEN: Sunday, August 23, any time between 9am-12pm.

WHERE: 41 and 43 Smith Street, Manly. 

(No. 41 is a household of 2 people with a smaller solar system of 5kW. No. 43 is a household of 4 people with a large solar system of 10kW and a battery.)

COVID-19: Social distancing will be observed at this event so small groups of a maximum of 4 will be shown around the houses at a time. 

We’ll also have a table with information, free tea and coffee, and of course hand sanitiser. You are welcome to wear a mask. Let us know if you’re coming so that we can put the kettle on!
This event is organised by Zero Emissions Sydney North, a not-for-profit organisation run by volunteers. The focus is to encourage more people to go solar – to get you from ‘just finding out more’ to ‘let’s do this!’ In just 6 months Zero Emissions Sydney North has helped 20 households go solar.

We look forward to seeing you in Manly.

I have discovered a secret weapon in my quest to persuade people to make the switch to renewable energy. It’s called GADGETS!

We’ve had solar panels for nearly ten years now. 18 months ago we bought a Tesla 2 battery for $11,500 (which, as I now realise, was quite a bargain since prices have gone up this year). The installer, who did a great job, showed me how the app tells you exactly how much electricity you are consuming at any moment, and where that electricity is coming from. 

I didn’t realise at the time how powerful that insight could be. Three pictures


A sunny day in North Balgowlah
  1. A sunny day in November 2019

The big yellow mountain is solar energy, collected from our rooftop panels. The jagged line is our household energy consumption. (You can see that I made a cup of tea just before 8 a.m., and I ran the dishwasher and the washing machine in the morning.) Below the horizontal axis shows how the battery works: when the sun comes up excess solar energy feeds into the battery. It’s full by noon, so the grey area is excess energy flowing back to the grid (and earning a feed-in tariff). And you can see that, on this day, the battery powered the house right through till sunrise, so we were 100% self-powered.  ☺


Solar Offset
  1. Of course, the sun doesn’t always shine

But this screen shot shows that across 2019 we offset our usage — 8166 kWh — with 5473 kWh solar power from our roof. So a 67% reduction in our electricity bill and a 67% reduction in our carbon emissions. The retail price in NSW per kWh is 33c. So *furrows brow, doing sums* that’s $1806.09 in savings in 2019. Nice.

  1. What’s happening here?

This is a screenshot from March 2020 showing where our power is coming from. We’re in the middle of a powercut. The Tesla battery automatically takes over, so that the house can be independent of the grid, using power from the solar panels and, if needed, from the battery. WFH with no grid? No problem. 

We love checking on the app to see how much we are saving. But above all, this funky little app, with its visual representation of real time household electricity usage, is an amazing communications tool. Household power bills aren’t sexy but gadgets totally are. Therefore, my husband, even though he is not involved in environmental campaigning, gets a real kick out of showing his friends how we are helping ourselves to free energy (and helping the environment at the same time).

Do you have a battery? Do you have a story to tell about your journey towards zero emissions? Let us know by [best way to connect]