Baptcare Southaven: committed to caring

Baptcare Southaven: committed to caring

Baptcare Southaven is using energy efficiency to improve comfort for elderly respite clients, and reduce energy costs by $2600 a year. We visited the Southaven site in Melbourne to see what they’ve done.

Baptcare, sustainability, energy efficency

BAPTCARE Southaven is using energy efficiency to improve comfort for elderly respite clients, and reduce energy costs by $2600 a year. We visited the Southaven site in Melbourne to see what they’ve done.

We met with Liam Henderson, Sustainability Coordinator at Baptcare, and Debra Kowalski, Program Coordinator at Baptcare Southaven. This pair teamed up to develop and implement some innovative projects to cut costs and address some of the thermal issues at the Southaven centre.

Leadership and Commitment

What were the main drivers in getting sustainability projects up and running at Baptcare?

Liam: “We’re lucky to be working in an organisation that has made a commitment to improve its sustainability. Baptcare has a 3 year sustainability strategy to improve energy and water efficiency, and increase recycling and reduce waste to landfill at all of our sites, and a sustainability role was created as part of that commitment.

In my job I get to work with staff at the sites and support them in developing projects. Debbie’s a great ideas person and very resourceful – she’s a gun at finding funding for our projects at Southaven.

Debra: “Liam’s been a great enabler, and has really helped to develop our ideas and get them off the ground. We also have some great volunteers who have practical skills to contribute. Having the green light from our Baptcare has created the space for us all to get together and make things happen.

Sustainability and the sector

Why did Baptcare decide to become more sustainable?

Liam: “Baptcare is a mission driven organisation, and as an organisation we have committed to care for our natural environment because the health and wellbeing of our communities depend on it! Energy efficiency is a great way to improve the comfort of our buildings for our elderly clients – this is particularly important for our respite visitors and residents who are struggling with health issues. Cost savings are also a nice result, but primarily it’s about doing the right thing by our planet and by our clients.”

Technically talking…

What kinds of projects have you completed at Southaven?

Debra: “Our centre is nice and snug in winter, but we’ve had trouble keeping the building cool in summer – particularly during the long heatwaves we’ve had in Melbourne in the last few years. We needed improvements that helped to cool the building, but not drive up our electricity costs”.

Liam: “To deal with the temperature issue we installed a passive ventilation unit that automatically exhausts hot air from the building and draws in cool air when its available. In winter it uses the warm air from the ceiling to heat the building. The system basically consists of temperature sensors and a solar powered fan, and it’s saving us around $900 a year in heating and cooling costs. We also increased our ceiling insulation, installed sun blinds and tinted the windows on all north facing rooms. These projects were only completed a year ago, but there was a noticeable improvement in temperature over the last summer – we’re looking forward to seeing how we go this year.

Debra: “We’ve also put in water saving showerheads, which has helped to cut down our water heating costs. I am a passionate gardener too so we’ve started up a little veggie garden at the back of the centre, and our volunteers are building some raised garden beds so our clients can garden without bending down. Next on my wish list is to get some security screens on doors and windows so we can get some breeze moving through the building in summer”

Money talks…

What are your tips on finding funding?

Debra: “In a nutshell – keep your eye out and don’t be afraid to ask people. We asked our local member and he put us on to a couple of organisations who were looking to invest in their community. We’ve partnered with Tobin Brothers Foundation and the Freemasons on a couple of projects. And it’s not all about money – volunteers are a great help to our projects and many organisations are keen to loan us workers as a part of their corporate social responsibility. GE Money gave us 8 volunteers who overhauled our front garden – that kind of help can bring down the cost of projects. Think broadly about who you might approach.

Liam: “Having a good business case is helpful for prioritising projects internally. All up, our Southaven projects have cost $11,500, but they are saving us $2,600 a year – so it should pay itself off in just over 4 years. We can reinvest that 16% reduction in our electricity costs back into other efficiency projects, so savings can compound over time as we keep improving. It’s win-win.

Article originally published on The Give Grid

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