Victorian Premier John Brumby and Environment Minister Gavin Jennings helped Green Cross Australia launch Build it Back Green (BIBG) from the heart of bushfire-affected state of Victoria. In their quest to rebuild the state green, GC Australia received a boost from the Victorian Government by being awarded a $177,000 grant from the Victorian Government Sustainability Fund to kick-start BIBG project in Flowerdale, which was at the heart of the bushfire impacted zone.
In February 2009 Australia experienced the worst bushfires in history with 174 lives claimed and more than 2,000 homes destroyed in Victoria. The grant will fund development of a comprehensive green building guide and a “Build it back green” (BIBG) website that provides practical multi-media based post-disaster rebuilding information and tools including trade videos that address the nitty-gritty building challenges these communities are confronting. The site will include a corporate volunteering portal as well.
BIBG online will use Web 2.0 tools enabling people across Victoria to follow/share/upload and comment via Facebook and Twitter. A live Twitter feed will encourage development of a regional green building dialogue and will be used to let people know where green building talks occur once these are up and running.
The BIBG online journey will be integrated into the existing Flowerdale community led “Build it back” website which integrates sustainable rebuilding into a more comprehensive recovery journey. The BIBG website will become the online hub for BIBG, providing access to the tools and community resources that residents need.
BIBG web resources will include comprehensive green solutions and rebate information developed by Alternative Technology Association, Australia’s leading community sustainable solutions provider. The Victorian Branch of the Electrical Trades Union hopes to enable its members from bushfire affected areas to become “Global Green Electrician” accredited, so they can build sustainable local businesses as renewable energy and energy efficiency become mainstream options for participating households.
Flowerdale’s new Green Building Resource Centre (funded by the Federal Jobs Fund) will showcase a wide range of green products and service and will be available to thousands of impacted residents, as well as visitors to the area. Community planning support will be provided to assist with integrated sustainable water, waste and energy solutions.
Once the website is live, GC Australia partners Australian Conservation Foundation and Alternative Technology Association aim to launch a widespread community talks programme that will reach out into Kinglake, Marysville and other affected townships from the base in Flowerdale to bring green tools, stories, inspiration and information to the neighbourhood level.
“Our collaboration aims to support a lasting shift toward sustainable community adaptation and resilience well into the future,” said Monica Richter from the Australian Conservation Foundation.
Green Cross is working with Victorian agencies to enable Habitat for Humanity Australia to work with an army of volunteers to build thirty affordable sustainable homes supporting low income bushfire affected residents using a sweat equity model. In addition, the Green Building Council of Australia will encourage the large staff pool of its 700 national corporate members from the property development and building sector to volunteer on the ground, building new homes and sustainable community infrastructure.
“The Green Building Council of Australia will target all its members and affiliated industries to assist in the volunteer programme,” said CEO Romilly Madew. “The aim of this programme is to provide individuals and companies the opportunity to assist on the ground, within the bushfire regions.”
Furthermore, GC Australia is raising funds to support a research team from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to assist residents to make material and product choices that are resilient to bushfire risk but also have strong environmental performance.
“ECO-RESILIENCE,” says CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship Director Andrew Ash, “is all about smart climate change adaptation, and will create exciting 21st century intellectual property.”
BIBG partners hope to be a source of green jobs, advice, leadership, practical tools and capacity to assist Victorian communities in the transition and to emerge as the cohesive, healthy, thriving and, now resilient, communities they once were.
It is GC Australia’s aim that a minimum of 400 households will be supported to increase their eco-resilience with innovative hazard reducing materials, technologies and practices, while reducing their greenhouse emissions by 10 tones per annum.