Robyn Edward, Tanya Stevenson, Maureen Hall and Cathy Bohanna-Martin at the Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre.
Robyn Edward, Tanya Stevenson, Maureen Hall and Cathy Bohanna-Martin at the Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre. Emily Black

Neighbourhood Centre sustainably minded

A FORTY kilowatt solar panel system is the latest addition at the Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre, making it one of the most sustainable organisations locally.

Neighbourhood Centre CEO Tanya Stevenson said the centre applied for a Community Sustainability Action Grant to install the solar panels after sky rocketing power bills became almost unaffordable to pay.

"Our electricity bill is now over $100,000 per year,” Ms Stevenson said.

"The installation of the solar panels will help reduce the financial pressure and the centre was successful in gaining $25,000 funding from the Community Sustainability Action Conservation Grant from the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.

"While the solar panels were being installed a 'Sustainability Plan' was put together by our trainee Tennessee Hopkins, funded by Queensland Government Youth Boost incentive.

"This was a comprehensive audit of what the HBNC uses and spends on petrol, water and electricity”.

"We are very aware that sustainability is not just about solar panels and switching off unnecessary appliances.

"We have decided that we need to take a holistic approach.

"We have recently switched to reducing our chemical waste by switching to FSG Green Shop environmentally safe cleaners which is a social enterprise to support their direct services to community members.”

Ms Stevenson said the solar panels was one of many green initiatives at the centre, from the community garden and worm farm, to the Lug a Mug drive, encouraging people to bring their own reusable cups to remove excess waste from paper cups.

HBNC Sustainability Working Group leader Maggie John said they were working through other ideas to become more proactive in the area of waste projects generated by staff and volunteers including our kitchen waste.

"The bulk of our kitchen waste will be donated to a garden project for soil carbon capture rather than sending it to the land fill where it would create methane, a greenhouse gas far worse than carbon dioxide,” Ms John said.

Multicultural Service Stream Coordinator Robyn Edward said she was their monthly Culture Caf no longer used plastic plates and cutlery.

"Instead we have invested in crockery and cutlery which can be washed when the 100 plus attendees leave,” Ms Edward sad.



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