Taking action in the community

We are responding to climate change by reducing greenhouse emissions, reducing waste to landfill and restoring biodiversity. This includes emissions due to Council operations, but also supporting the community and industry within the Shire to address their own emissions. There are many funding opportunities for the community to take action on climate change. 

Towards Zero Community Grants (Closed for 2022)

Towards Zero Community Grants Program is open once a year and aims to support projects within Hepburn Shire which reduce greenhouse gas emissions, through reduced energy consumption, carbon draw-down and/or increasing the use of renewable energy in community facilities.

Read more about the grants on the Grants page.

Community grants – Sustainability

These grants are more focused on specific small projects or programs. These grants are $1000-$2000 and are released monthly.

See here for more information Grants page.

Building a circular economy

Hepburn Shire’s first comprehensive Circular Economy mapping and local capacity building project is being delivered in partnership by Council and Hepburn Energy. The project provides a practical approach to understanding, mapping and actioning the opportunities presented by the Circular Economy for Hepburn Shire and it will utilise global best practice in circular economy knowledge and apply it to the local business sector, generating real outcomes for local businesses and institutions.

This foundational project will deliver a Circular Economy Readiness Snapshot, Interviews and case studies on local businesses, an introductory webinar, targeted workshops and map the opportunity for the Hepburn Shire to benefit from a circular economy.

Healthy Landscapes

The Practical Regenerative Agricultural Communities program offers programs about regenerative agricultural practices to help local farmers and land custodians improve the health of land, soil, water and livestock. Read the Healthy Landscapes page. 

Small business energy saver program

Small businesses can reduce running costs and greenhouse gas emissions through the Small Business Energy Saver Program run by Sustainability Victoria in partnership with the Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance (CVGA).

When upgrading to more energy-efficient equipment, the program provides small businesses with a discount that covers up to 85% of the full equipment and installation cost. A range of equipment upgrades are eligible for the discount:

  1. Replacing inefficient electric hot water systems
  2. Replacing inefficient gas hot water systems
  3. Upgrading to efficient room reverse cycle air-conditioners
  4. Installing energy-efficient refrigerator display cabinets
  5. Installing energy-efficient fridges and freezers
  6. Installing energy-efficient refrigeration and ventilation fans and motors
  7. Installing water efficient pre-rinse spray valves.

CVGA staff can support businesses to identify which equipment in the business is eligible to be upgraded. Deborah Pach from CVGA is covering the Hepburn Shire and is working with a handful of businesses and planning events in collaboration with Council’s EcoDev and other relevant teams.

Businesses can register their interest via the CVGA website.

Lighting the regions

This project involved LED light upgrades to major roads in the Shire. This was completed with the final installs and testing wrapped up by Powercor and the Department of Transport (DoT) in February 2022.

 A cost sharing agreement was signed between DoT and Council to fund the replacement of approximately 162 street lights with energy efficient alternatives. This resulted in:

  • Saving approximately 730 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions during the life of the new assets (over 20 years) – equivalent to taking 170 cars off the road for one-year.
  • Saving approximately 40 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year – equivalent to lighting 50 average Australian homes per year.
  • Being cash flow positive in around 8 years.

Hepburn Z-NET

Council is a partner of the award winning Hepburn Zero Net Emissions Transition (Z-NET) project. Hepburn Z-NET is a collaborative partnership bringing together community groups, organisations, experts and council to shift the Hepburn Shire to zero-net energy by 2025 and zero-net emissions by 2030. The Hepburn Z-NET partnership developed and is delivering a suite of programs aspiring to 100% renewable energy, reduction of emissions and uses real, local data to deliver an emissions baseline so that we can track progress over time.

The Hepburn Z-NET Community Transition Plan (CTP) is a 10-year holistic masterplan laying out a detailed baseline of where Hepburn emissions are and the strategies available for different sectors and emission types.

Neighbourhood Battery Initiative

‘Community Sparks’ is led by the Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance (CVGA) as part of the State Government Neighbourhood Battery Initiative, with Council and Hepburn Energy as partners.

This project seeks to develop a greater understanding of how communities and local governments can play a greater role in the uptake of neighbourhood batteries. It seeks to go beyond the single site trial and think ‘bigger picture’ about how batteries may be rolled out more comprehensively across the region and the different ways in which this could occur. The project will undertake a comprehensive neighbourhood battery strategy for the Hepburn Shire, and then consider how such an approach could be scaled to other partner local councils.

Home energy assessments

Between 2020 and 2022, the Z-NET Home Energy Assessments and Energy Savvy Upgrades Program provided eligible Hepburn Shire residents support to improve building comfort and running costs by tackling energy efficiency, providing energy audits and some funding for efficiency upgrades. This program reached its household energy assessment and efficiency upgrades targets in June 2022 and is now closed to new applications.

The program was led by Transition Creswick and assisted to access a free assessment valued at $330 dollars, and a subsidy from the State Government of up to $880 dollars to complete energy efficiency upgrades to make each home more comfortable and affordable to run.

Solar Savers

This is a Council-led project where Council purchases solar systems upfront for eligible pensioners and low-income households within the Shire. This cost is then recouped using a ‘Special Rates Charge’ through an interest-free loan on the property. Households are only encouraged to proceed when modelling suggests that annual energy savings will be $100 greater than the loan repayments.

Learn more about Solar Savers

Hepburn Solar Bulk Buy

The Hepburn Solar Bulk-Buy is a community initiative – supported by Council, Hepburn Wind and Z-NET Hepburn Shire – to make it easier for households and businesses to go solar and add battery storage, contributing to the Shire’s zero-net emissions target for 2030.

The More Australian Solar Homes (MASH) group, based out of Castlemaine, has been running the Hepburn Solar Bulk Buy throughout 2018, 2019 and 2020. Council has been a strong supporter of the Bulk Buy, and is proud of the high uptake of solar across the region in recent times.

Visit the MASH website and find out more about solar in Hepburn.

Local sustainability groups

Hepburn Shire has strong community leadership on sustainability projects, as evidenced by the existence of numerous local sustainability groups. These groups work across many of the towns and villages around the Shire and are vital in helping Council and the broader community in developing and implementing local projects.

Get involved in the sustainability of your local community:

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