Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Mar-Apl 2014 Contents Energy bill halved
sustainability manager. "We are translating
the whole idea of benevolence into not
only caring for people, but also caring for
the environment, it's where we live."
From a strategic point of view this
was first formalised in 2010 when RFBI
embarked on the NSW Government's
Sustainability Advantage program -- it
was made a Bronze Partner of the
program in 2013. It initially involved
four villages participating in resource
efficiency workshops to identify where
things could be better managed and to
brainstorm solutions, Ellitt says. Resource
management was further reinforced by
the organisation's board and staff in RFBI's
2011 - 14 strategic plan, where it is one of
11 key strategic areas.
Following that, Ellitt was appointed the
mentor for the environmental strategy.
He recruited general managers from
five villages to participate in developing
the wider strategy. Ellitt says they felt it
better to develop environmental plans
at the local level rather than a top down
centric approach. "We wanted to develop
this from the ground up... And our staff
have come up with some great ideas," he
says. Different Masonic villages took on
different aspects of the strategy and then
developed, tested and validated initiatives.
"The initiatives developed by those villages
are being turned into 15 strategies that we
are looking to roll out this year company
wide," says Ellitt. Plans will be developed
locally to ensure they fit individual village
requirements, and reviewed annually
within the financial planning cycle, he says.
One of those initiatives is the waste
and energy management plan developed
by the Bellorana facility in Bellingen. The
village successfully diverted 33 per cent
of general facility waste from landfill to
recycling. Combined with the kitchen food
waste reduction component, it targets a
50 per cent reduction in waste to landfill.
Initiatives include displacing 186 plastic
water bottles a day, using worm farms for
most food waste and a recycling venture
where old beds are sent to the Philippines
with the assistance of the local Lions club.
The facility won a 2013 Better Practice
award in the environmental category for
its "Green Machine" program.
Ellitt says everyone has it in them
to think and act sustainably. "We have
found that given the opportunity our staff
really accepted the challenge. Through
their efforts, RFBI is now delivering great
environmental outcomes." n
Caring for people
and the environment
In a bid to address increasing
electricity costs, Glenlyn Aged
Care, a 76-bed single-level
residential facility in Melbourne's
northern suburbs, has installed
399 solar panels on its roof.
Two months in and the panels are
exceeding expectations. More than half
the facility's energy needs are being met
by solar and the provider expects to
recoup set-up costs in less than five years.
Glenlyn went with a solution from
EnviroGroup, which specialises in
renewable energy for commercial,
government and residential clients. There
is no storage capability for the energy --
that would require a special building -- so
what they generate is used immediately,
explains Nicole Sandhaus, the facility's
business operations manager.
"If we don't have enough coming
from the panel, it just takes it from
the grid. We never know when that
changeover happens. It is automatic. But
we have had two electricity bills since
installation and they have been less than
half than they were before. That was
automatically a wow to us," she says.
The idea to consider solar power
came from Sandhaus, who as the
one opening the electricity bills, was
constantly thinking about how to
reduce energy costs. "Looking toward
the future they are only going to get
higher," she says.
With a 24/7 operation constantly
running either air conditioning or heating,
Sandhaus knew the facility would need a
lot of panels to make solar cost-effective.
But the facility's building type gave her
good cause to consider it, she says.
"We are unusual in aged care in that
we are a single-level facility spread out
flat across lots of ground, which means
we have a lot of roof space... We now
have 399 solar panels on our roof. There
are a lot, everywhere the eye can see."
The installation took two-and-a-half
weeks and was followed by a fortnight
of programming. The power was only
turned off on three occasions for 15
minutes at time and there have been
no power interruptions since going
live, she says.
The goal for Glenlyn is to reduce
costs, rather than go green, says
Sandhaus. However, as they can't
reduce the amount of energy they use,
utilising other forms of power means
they are still doing their bit, she says.
Rather than a short-term fix,
going solar is a long-term solution for
Glenlyn. Sandhaus says the family-
owned business thought the outlay,
which they expect to recoup in four-
and-a-half years, was worth it for the
"Considering these solar panels have
a 25-year guarantee, we are looking
for them to be around for a long time
without having any major problems.
Four-and-a-half years was thought a very
reasonable time to recoup costs." n
Glenlyn Aged Care
Green initiatives at RFBI Bellorana,
Bellingen, include a worm farm and
Looking after the environment
is as important as looking
after people for The Royal
Institution (RFBI), which has 21
residential aged care villages in NSW and
the ACT. RFBI has an organisation-wide
approach to efficiency and sustainability
with environmental plans being developed
at the village level.
Three initiatives RFBI plans to roll out
to all villages this year have company-wide
annual targets of diverting over 300 tonnes
of waste from landfill through recycling
and composting, displacing 2,720 litres of
commercial cleaning chemicals in favour
of electrolysed water, and reducing power
consumption by 100,000 kWh by upgrading
lighting and installing electrical controls.
Taking a strong interest in
environmental sustainability stems from
the ethics of the organisation, which
was founded in 1880 as a benevolent
institution, says Steven Ellitt, RFBI's
assets and contracts manager and
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