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29 February 2008
Bernadette Nunn: Castlemaine is a small country community in central Victoria built on the boom of the 1850s Gold Rush. That rich heritage now attracts city folk who move here for a simpler life, a slower pace.
But there's a quiet revolution underway here in Castlemaine. With a population of just 17,000, and that's including the surrounding smaller towns, this community has decided to change the world, starting right here.
So, instead of being overwhelmed by a global problem like climate change, they've decided to do something about it.
Dean Bridgfoot: What we're finding is that people in this community understand that climate change is already affecting them. Really, they get it here. They can see it and they can smell it and they can see the impacts it's already having on them.
We've had this dramatic decrease in rainfall. For the last seven years it's hardly rained at all. For this community they understand already that climate change is here and so they're worried about that.
Bernadette Nunn: So Castlemaine has decided to cut the greenhouse gases it produces by a third in three years then to produce no emissions by 2015.
Dean Bridgfoot: The average Australian produces about 24 tonnes of carbon dioxide pollution a year. Now a person in India produces less than two. A person in China produces less than two. The global average is about ten.
So, what you end up with is people in our communities produce seven times more than what would be the global average. That's another reason why people are starting to get really involved because they start to see well, there actually is a moral dimension to this as well.
Bernadette Nunn: The project provides free energy assessments to help householders find ways to save energy.
Joe Scopelliti: We put that new pelmet in and the curtains which are quite solid and they're rubber backed so they've got sort of good insulation capacity.
We've installed that fan just to circulate the hot air in the room that tends to stay up in the ceiling and the other major thing that we've done is carpeted through here and that's really helped to keep the room a lot warmer.
Energy Assessor: Well, we're looking at the building - quite a good seal - you need to make sure that the building is insulated to keep in the heat so you're using as less amount of energy as possible.
We need to look at the appliances that people use in their house. Some appliances can be heavy users of electricity.
And the third thing would be behaviour, changing our habit such as spending too much time in the shower.
Joe Scopelliti: It just feels good to be able to do small things that are relatively cheap and it makes a difference.
Jane Knight: We're also working with businesses in the town and they use a surprising amount of energy really, considering there aren't many of them but compared to the households they use quite a lot.
The first thing we do is we look at where they're already using energy and in a building like this well, we have a bottle shop and of course one of the main things we'd be looking at is refrigeration.
At the north end of the building, this is where of course where you're going to receive all the sun in summer. If we check the temperature out where you can see that this wall is at about, well, nearly 35, 36 degrees. It's only a 20 degree day. You can imagine on a 35 degree day or even a 40 degree day how hot it's going to be in this part of the building and that's of course where all the refrigeration is.
It's an old stone building and it has a great big cellar underneath and that cellar is what holds all the cool.
As soon as you open the door you can get to feel how the cold air is coming up from the basement.
Bernadette Nunn: You can feel it already can't you.
Jane Knight: So it's nice and cool down here and if we measure the temperature we can just see how cold and my thermometer is reading that it's about nine degrees down here.
And it's obviously what we used to do before we used refrigerators. All we have to do is go back to doing things the way we used to do them which is working with the natural elements rather than against them.
So, in this building we have a great example where we have lots of cool that we could be using more efficiently and that's what we'll be looking at in the future for this building.
Bernadette Nunn: So how difficult is it to get businesses to want to make a difference?
Jane Knight: Well, it's surprisingly easy for a business to save money when they do this kind of work so I think that's a big incentive for business because they're always looking at their profitability.
Bernadette Nunn: In this town you're never too young to start saving energy.
Teacher: We can reuse things. What else can we do?
Student: Help the environment.
Bernadette Nunn: This is the youngest class at Castlemaine North Primary School and they're determined to do their bit to save the planet.
Student: Turn off the lights and turn the heater off and turn the computer off.
Student: It's bad for the world,
Student: I do them at home as well.
Bernadette Nunn: Why?
Student: Because same at school. You waste energy.
Clare Melgaard:(Principal) We saved approximately $2000 across a year's energy bill. That's on our gas and electricity which is quite significant for a school our size.
Student: So far it's 23.5.
Student: We could just measure 'Do we really need the lights on?' because we have a lot of light coming in.
Student: Now let's see what it is with the TV on.
Clare Melgaard: We've been able to reduce our carbon emissions by about 25%.
The really great thing was it wasn't a really difficult thing to do. It was mostly through behaviour change for us.
Teacher: Before we go what are we going to make sure of?
Student: We have to turn everything off.
Student: If kids start now they'll know what to do when they're adults and they'll keep on doing it and it'll help stop global warming.
Dean Bridgfoot: It's really achievable. We're nothing special in this community but we are motivated to do something about it and we hope that will motivate other people.
Joe Scopelliti: Really you have to start somewhere and it's like a little ripple can become a wave.
Student: Oh, we can make a little difference but not a very big one. If we want to make a big one the whole world would have to change.
Teacher: We've got our lights on at the moment. We certainly don't need them on now.
Are the lights off now?