Ecovantage and HomeGround Services have a bit of history now- and it’s a good one!

In 2009, Ecovantage was engaged to calculate the carbon footprint of HomeGround’s operations to illustrate what activities are contributing to their greenhouse gas emissions and to what extent. In 2010 they reconnected with Ecovantage to progress their environmental initiatives further and to tackle climate change in the space over which they have control.

HomeGround have a vision to end homelessness in Melbourne and they’re achieving this by developing innovative housing models, advocating for systems of change and researching the causes and solutions to homelessness. They are an independent, not-for-profit organisation with a commendable internal drive to reduce environmental impacts. Ecovantage recently assessed four of their sites to investigate efficiencies of their operations under the categories of product procurement as well as energy, water and waste management.

An extensive set of recommendations under each of the categories was supplied – complete with product payback period analysis. Keeping in mind that HomeGround are a not-for-profit operation, there was a substantial focus on suggesting low cost and no cost ways to improve energy efficiency. Ecovantage investigated heavily into product substitution opportunities. For instance, if the office paper purchased had been sourced from virgin fiber (trees) – a credible substitute was recommended that had been sourced from 100% post-consumer paper. Ecovantage assessed the waste disposal methods and management employed across the sites.

Simple, cost-effective measures were identified that could be adopted into every day practices to improve current performance and guide decision making into the future. Recommendations such as improving signage will ensure that the current methods in place are built upon and optimised. It was identified that one of HomeGround’s most effective means for conserving water would be made by including routine water-efficiency checks and upgrades into the existing site maintenance audits. Items on the checklist would consist of monitoring leaks, installing new and efficient fixtures such as showerheads and tap aerators, reviewing current practice of fleet vehicle washing and more. Energy use was appraised on an appliance by appliance basis in terms of its hours of use, age, efficiency and standby power consumption. It was concluded that educating staff to the significance of standby power energy consumption would lead them to be more proactive about turning computers and other equipment off at the end of the day and when not in use. When combined with sufficient energy saving activities, the purchase of GreenPower can be cost neutral and further reduce reliance on non-renewable energy sources.

Ecovantage consultants Seamus Balkin and Caitlin Findley met  HomeGround in the New Year to discuss the effectiveness of the whole project and were very impressed with what they found. Much to Ecovantage’s delight, HomeGround had whisked through all the recommendations with a fine-toothed comb and compiled their own strategic analysis which they are developing to work in conjunction with a sustainability group from Monash University to implement the actions.

This was a very positive project to be involved with from Ecovantage’s perspective and assumedly HomeGround’s too. HomeGround said, ‘It is easy to sit around and discuss all the actions we should be undertaking to lessen our environmental impact – but I am more interested in the doing’.