Uniting Communities is believed to have become the first South Australian organisation and the first registered charity in Australia to receive certification under the federal government’s Carbon Neutral Program.

“We committed to our Carbon Neutral program in 2010,” Uniting Communities chief executive Simon Schrapel said. “Becoming carbon neutral makes sense for our organisation; we have a strong moral compass and research tells us that climate change will most affect people in our client base – the elderly, socially disadvantaged and people on lower incomes.

“This is also a big win for Adelaide, with its goal of becoming the world’s first carbon neutral city through the Premier’s Carbon Neutral Adelaide initiative.”

Mr Schrapel said significant dollar savings had been made from reducing carbon emissions.

“The conversion to hybrid vehicles alone has achieved annual savings of over $650 per vehicle. With the passenger fleet now being 65 per cent petrol-electric, that’s over $50,000 a year in savings and this figure is rising. All fleet vehicles are also carbon offset through local company, CMI Toyota.”

Other carbon reduction activities include building upgrades to two residential aged care facilities and the city-based head office. Sustainability practices are also embedded across the organisation’s 85 buildings.

“We have site representatives across the organisation to facilitate emissions reduction,” he says. “And all position descriptions within the organisation include a commitment to carbon reduction.”

The organisation also examined purchasing practices and engaged suppliers who can provide 100 per cent carbon neutral products, such as carbon neutral copy paper through Fuji Xerox and stationery from Lyreco International.

Commencing this year, Uniting Communities will be redeveloping its Pitt and Franklin Street head office into a modern mixed-use high-rise development that will showcase sustainability from all angles. It will aim to achieve a high-level building rating, demonstrating the organisation’s ongoing commitment to reducing carbon emissions.