Moira Shire councillor Wendy Buck and Climate Change Minister Lisa Neville.

Council initiatives to save energy and boost solar uptake, a how-to-guide for adding vegetation to walls and roofs of city buildings and a project to encourage organics recycling were among the big winners at last week’s 2015 Victorian Premier’s Sustainability Awards.

Sustainability Victoria chief executive Stan Krpan said the awards rewarded and recognised Victorians who have made a difference to the environment by implementing measures to better manage waste, water and energy consumption.

The Built Environment Award was won by the Goulburn Broken Greenhouse Alliance for its Watts Working Better street light replacement project, which will see 12,661 inefficient streetlights replaced with LED or T5 lighting, resulting in estimated energy bill savings of $15.6 million over 20 years, and more than 90,000 tonnes saved in greenhouse gas emissions. The $4.68 million project is a cooperative venture between the councils of Campaspe, Greater Shepparton, Moira, Benalla, Strathbogie, Wangaratta, Mansfield, Murrindindi and Mitchell. The councils contributed a third of the project cost, with additional funding contributed by the federal government through the Department of Industry.

University of Melbourne urban horticulture professor John Rayner accepting the Education Award.

Education Award: The University of Melbourne – The Growing Green Guide for Melbourne. A free guide to the construction of green roofs, green walls and living facades, the resource was produced as a partnership project involving the university, Inner Melbourne Action Plan and the Victorian state government, and released last year. It aims to improve knowledge and expertise around incorporating vegetation on buildings as part of assisting the city in adapting to climate change.

Environmental Justice Award: Darebin City Council – Darebin Solar Saver. This council program was developed to make solar power accessible to low income residents, by providing zero-interest financing repaid over 10 years through Council rates. Believed to be the first program of its type in Australia, it aims to reduce greenhouse emissions at the point of demand, and support local residents that are most vulnerable to climate change impacts and increasing energy costs. Council is providing 292 households that are “heat-stress vulnerable” with low-cost energy sources and efficiency advice to decrease the cost of cooling in summer. Council estimates the project will result in greenhouse gas emissions savings of 1476 tonnes annually during the 20-plus year life of the solar systems.

Small and Medium Enterprises Award: Yarra Valley Estate. The estate is a winery, accommodation and conference venue that this year achieved an Earth Check Bronze rating for sustainability. Initiatives include an on-site wildlife rehabilitation refuge, energy-efficiency and water-efficiency technologies, guest engagement programs, composting of all food waste, chemical-free cleaning, bushland protection and rehabilitation and local sourcing of produce.

Other winners:

  • Government Award: Goulburn Valley Waste and Resource Recovery Group and Moira Shire Council – Overcoming Barriers to Effective Household Kerbside Garden and Food Organics Recovery
  • Premier’s Regional Recognition Award: Barwon Health for their Food Services Central Production Unit Recycling Initiatives project
  • Health Award: Monash Health – Cleaning Without Chemicals in Healthcare
  • Community Award: St Kilda Mums, Geelong Mums and Eureka Mums – Recycle, Reuse, Rehome
  • Innovative Products or Services Award: Living Fundraisers – Closet Cleanout
  • Environmental Protection Award: Robert Bosch Australia – Reclamation of Copper from Prescribed Industrial Wastewater