In February 2009 Australia experienced the worst bushfires in history; with 174 lives claimed and more than 2,000 homes destroyed. But in true Australian spirit – the victims are refusing to let it beat them.
Despite record donations being raised and the Government pledging support, residents in the affected communities are seeking ways to rebuild more efficiently and effectively – not just for the future security of the communities but to begin to break the extreme weather cycle fuelled by greenhouse emissions not only for their benefit but for the benefit of the environment.
To begin bushfires, like hurricanes in New Orleans, are routine seasonal occurrences – but nothing could have prepared anyone for the impacts of Black Saturday. Or could they..?
Despite countless scientific reports predicting more intense and more severe weather, events like these are occurring more frequently due to an increase in global warming caused by increasing green house gas emissions.
According to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Victoria currently experiences 9 very hot days above 35 degrees Celsius a year, however, this number is expected to increase to 11¬-13 days by 2030. By 2020, the number of heat-related deaths in Australia’s capital cities (Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth) is expected to more than triple to between 4300-6300 a year.
Now is the time for people to wake up and get prepared.
Greenhouse gas emissions in Australia are one of the highest per capita in the world and with the recent disaster in Victoria, communities are at the most economically compelling time to begin sustainable planning and design and install energy efficient and renewable energy products and technologies during the major rebuilding construction efforts.
Green Cross Australia is building partnerships with companies to catalyse a major green rebuilding initiative centred in the Victorian community of Flowerdale – at the heart of the bushfire impacted zone. We seek to raise funds from the government, business and community in order to use the model started by Global Green USA in New Orleans for the benefit of communities by investing in a green future. The key components of this will be:
• Fantastic web tools for homebuilders, architects and builders, including installation videos, tip sheets, extensive product guides and information about available Federal, State and local government rebates and discounts.
• Community green building resource centres with up to date sustainable product and vendor information, samples of environmentally friendly building materials, and advice on how to access professional one-on-one green building consultations by appointment:
• Regular information meetings and workshops coordinated through community centres and clubs in bushfire affected communities
Green Cross Australia is also hoping to raise seed capital for Habitat for Humanity Australia so that they can assist with affordable sustainable housing reconstruction around these initiatives. Green Cross is appealing to Australia’s world-class property development sector to pour private investment capital into bushfire zones in the form of cutting edge sustainable and bushfire safe developments. Green schools will be a focus of our efforts, just as they are in New Orleans.
Most recently, GCA Board Chair and Minter Ellison Senior Partner, Khory McCormick hosted a luncheon with an exclusive network of collaborators from the engineering, insurance, green building research and community sectors for a powerful mix of groundbreaking discussions, values shifting and positive actions. Also attending the luncheon was an inspirational community leader from the town of Flowerdale, who is assisting GCA in building considerable momentum to bring Victoria back from the ashes.
On May 29th Green Cross Australia will be leading a key note session of Australia’s largest National Business Leaders Forum for Sustainable Development called “From the Ashes: international lessons to ‘Build it Back Green’. The session will also include leading science agency CSIRO; Worley Parsons, Australia’s largest engineering company; Swiss Re a global re-insurance giant, Lend Lease, a large Australian property development company; and local Flowerdale residents. GC Australia’s core partners in this work will be the Green Building Council of Australia.