Green shire greener
GOING green is one way to help reduce the cost of living, and the Douglas Shire Council is leading the way.
Last year the Douglas Shire Council administration building went green, saving about $20,000 in electricity prices by changing to eco- friendly lighting.
The initiative is continuing with $250,000 allocated in the recent Capital Works Budgets for the council’s Green Buildings Program.
Executive Office/ Strategy and Policy Co-ordinator Kerrie Hawkes said the council was starting a program to make changes to the buildings and other facilities to reduce energy costs.
‘‘It’s early days yet and we will be working to identify which buildings provide the best return on investment. We will also look at the idea of a revolving fund so energy savings are fed back into the fund to assist in further projects,’’ she said.
‘‘The sorts of energy saving ideas we are looking at are solar panels, light fittings and airconditioning, just to name a few.’’
Ms Hawkes said as part of the review, council would develop management plans for council buildings to identify opportunities to implement changes that were both environmentally and financially beneficial.
‘‘ With escalating energy costs, implementing energy efficiencies in council buildings will not only see a reduction in energy consumption, we will also have the opportunity to reduce our impact upon the environment and provide h e a l t h i e r , improved community spaces,’’ she said.
House and unit owners are also encouraged to go green to reduce costs, however Archer Body Corporate North Queensland Regional Manager Stephen McCulloch said unit owners were facing difficulties convincing body corporate committees.
Mr McCulloch said there were three main points unit owners should consider before approaching their body corporate about solar panels.
‘‘System cost is often the most disputed factor among unit owners in the solar decision-making process,’’ he said.
‘‘ The committee should investigate and shop around for the best price and system available and then recommend an appropriate system for approval by owners at a general meeting of the body corporate.
‘‘The committee needs to be thoroughly involved in this research and must work to keep all owners informed of the benefits of solar to the building. It’s important to consider where the solar panels will be placed and how the placement will affect the structure and aesthetics of the building in all weather conditions.’’
Mr McCulloch said many owners would make their decision based on how much money they could save and how quickly the initial expense could be paid off.
‘‘The good thing about solar is that owners can often see the savings by the next bill cycle, which provides some instant gratification,’’ he said.