Virtual Hub for Climate Change Innovation

As part of the Virtual Centre for Climate Change Innovation the Victorian Government provided $4.3 million to support Victorian organisations to lead the development of innovative solutions to the challenges of climate change. The 24 projects below were funded across regional Victoria, Melbourne and surrounding areas to be led by Victorian universities, businesses, community groups, local government, and not-for-profit organisations.

The grants program was designed to:

  • foster action, innovation and collaboration between businesses, industry, researchers and government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change; and
  • drive greater investment into high impact innovations that will enable our communities, environment and businesses to be prosperous in the face of climate change.

 

Assessing impacts of extreme temperature on wheat crops in North Western Victoria: regional economic impacts and opportunities for adaptation
This project will assess impacts of extreme temperatures on wheat yields in North Western Victoria over the next thirty years. By combining historical regional climate and wheat yield data with information on farm practices, we will develop a better understanding of future risks and management options. There will be a consultative process with relevant stakeholders to ensure that the models are scientifically rigorous and incorporate the main features of the regional farming environments and practices. The research process is conceived as co-production of knowledge with agricultural and climate scientists as well as with farmers, so that there will be joint ownership of research outputs, economic impact assessments and adaptation recommendations. The final outputs are intended to have relevance to public policy and resilient farm management.
 

The beaches of the Bellarine are currently eroding, and traditional models cannot predict their future stability because intertidal rocky outcrops interfere with sand movement. The project will combine the latest field technology (drones and wave probes) with citizen science to predict beach movement to allow managers to be climate-change ready. The project will involve instrumenting beaches on the Bellarine Peninsula at priority sites for the Bellarine Bayside Foreshore Management Committee. This will provide foundational understanding of the wave dynamics responsible for driving sediment transport and the role of offshore reefs in protecting the shoreline.

Key activities for the project are:

  • Instrumentation of the beach at Indented Head for 3-5 days in Summer, winter and after a storm event
  • UAV-based photogrammetry of beach and dune volumes at 3 time periods during the project (exact dates are weather dependant)
  • GIS-analysis of volumetric change based on topographic data sources from UAV and citizen-scientists.

This project aligns with the Victorian Coastal Monitoring Program launched by the Minister and DELWP in 2018.

Climate Communicators
Climate Communicators is a national climate education program, which partners with Australian weather presenters to help audiences understand how our climate is changing. With television remaining the single largest source of news and weather for Australians, local bulletins are now playing a crucial role facilitating much-needed climate discussions in the millions of households that broadcasts reach. Following a successful pilot with two Melbourne-based weather presenters in mid-2018, Climate Communicators has since expanded to become a regular part of weather segments on three of Australia’s major networks in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania. From Bendigo through to Cairns, metropolitan and regional audiences alike now have regular access to easily understood and localised climate information in their very own homes.
 
A climate safe room is a room in the house that has been modified to ensure it does not become uncomfortably hot in summer or too cold in winter. Firstly, the room is made more energy efficient and then a highly efficient reverse cycle air-conditioner (for heating and cooling) is installed, together with a small solar system to generate the electricity needed to operate the air-conditioner and offset its running costs. The climate safe rooms program will provide free energy and comfort upgrades to eligible households to reduce power bills and improve thermal comfort and health during both summer and winter weather extremes.
 
CLO’ey is a food processor that processes waste onsite in the home or office such that less organic waste is taken to landfill. It is being relaunched following supply and maintenance issues with the first model and will be designed and partly manufactured in Australia. CLO’ey converts food waste into nutrient rich soil conditioner in only 24 hours, minimising the need for transport or expensive infrastructure. CLO’ey can be deployed in home or office environments where their unprocessed food waste separation is undesirable.
Demonstrating fertiliser management for emissions reduction in the Victorian dairy industry

Dairy farmers typically apply high rates of fertiliser to support intensive grazing and ensure that nutrient deficiencies don’t limit milk production. This practice can have substantial impact on greenhouse gas emissions: Nitrous Oxide (N2O), a harmful greenhouse gas, is produced by microbial activity in the soil particularly when nitrogen supply is greater than demand. These emissions can be reduced by better matching supply to demand and/or improving the capacity for plants to utilise applied fertiliser by reducing other constraints to growth.

This project will demonstrate the benefits of precision agriculture technology on dairy farms in Gippsland as a tool for improved soil management, a means to increase nitrogen use efficiency, and to reduce N2O emissions. A high spatial resolution soil sampling method will be used to examine variability in soil fertility within and between paddocks. This provides maps of soil nutrition that can enable farmers to undertake fertiliser management that precisely matches applications to varying requirements. The aim is to grow adoption of precision agriculture for GHG emission benefits whilst also delivering improved economic returns to farmers.

 

This project is supporting local governments to increase uptake of electric vehicles in their fleets. Electric vehicles will be vital in decarbonising the transport sector to help Victoria achieve its target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Local governments have the opportunity to lead the way, and save money on vehicle running costs, by transitioning their fleets to electric vehicles.

Working with the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) and the Electric Vehicle Council, ClimateWorks has provided workshops and webinars to help local governments to better understand electric vehicles. The workshops also provided an opportunity for local governments who already use electric vehicles to share their learnings. ClimateWorks also collected data on demand for electric vehicles across local government fleets and liaised with electric vehicle manufacturers on vehicle pricing. This enabled the development of tailored advice for individual local governments comparing the total cost of electric vehicles with traditional petrol vehicles. Over 100 individuals from 43 different local governments across Victoria have engaged with the project.

The project will conclude with a report published in February 2019. The report will focus on the opportunity for electric vehicles in local government fleets and share the lessons learnt from the project. ClimateWorks will also propose options for local governments in Victoria to engage in collaborative procurement processes for electric vehicles.

 

This project aims to enhance the indoor air quality for vulnerable population through the application of fresh filtered air ventilation. The results will develop new evidence aimed at improving the well-being and educational outcomes of young children and quality of life and resilience of older Australians, assisting in climate change adaptation.

The project will investigate and evaluate the indoor environmental conditions of P‐12 school classrooms and aged care facilities in Victoria to better understand the benefits of providing fresh filtered air these groups and develop new knowledge aimed at improving well‐being, educational outcomes and quality of life.

Forrest Gateway to the Otways: Collaborative Research and Interactive Learning Facility and Bushfire Place of Last Resort

The township of Forrest, in the Otway Ranges of Victoria is uniquely located at the entrance to the Great Otway National Park with its carbon-dense forest, significant biodiversity, substantial water catchment and multitude of nature-based visitor activities. To the north of Forrest lie diverse farmlands including organic produce, wineries and burgeoning value-added food production.

The purpose of the Project is to assess options for developing the site into a facility that undertakes climate change education and research, co-located with the community hub and CFA station in a state-of-the-art building and landscape which functions as a bushfire place of last resort.

The project is funding feasibility studies to develop the business model for the facility and ensure the design is state-of-the-art for fire safety. With pilot research projects that bring together multiple stakeholders and community outreach, this project aims to seek innovative approaches for community-led climate change adaptation across the region and Victoria.

The ultimate goal of the project is that the Otways is a place where people want to live, including a balance of economic opportunities, social connectedness, environmental assets, and where the understanding of and response to climatic changes are communicated and developed sufficiently for Victoria and globally.

 
This project aims to develop a completely autonomous yet integrated solution that enables one of the largest electric appliances in a household/office space (i.e. a refrigerator) to operate off the grid. Refrigerators consume electricity 24 hours in a cyclic pattern of loading and unloading of the compressor, resulting in daily consumption of around 1.5kWh / day. An autonomous solution like FOG will help reduce energy bills and the corresponding carbon footprint. An off-grid power solution has potential to have significant impact across a range of other applications including disaster response and remote communities.
 
This project will develop an online brokerage platform to facilitate investment in tree growing for various economic and environmental benefits, harnessing a range of policy incentives, including those under the ERF, with the overarching goal of increasing carbon abatement through the integration of trees in rural landscapes.
Growing Southern Gippsland

We are calling our project 'Growing Southern Gippsland'. As the name suggests the project will assist agriculture to grow into the future as the region transitions to the future food bowl of Melbourne. This project will tell the story of how Southern Gippsland Agriculture can develop resilience in a changing climate. 12 properties across the region will go through an in-depth case study process that will document diversification and innovation opportunities that will improve their resilience into the future.

These 12 case studies will document the regions climate change adaptation stories and will be representative of all industries and all landscapes. The stories will become information beacons designed to inform the decision making of the entire agriculture sector in Southern Gippsland.

A series of field days will support the key messages and learnings case studies and more importantly promote peer mentor relationship development. Conversations over the farm fence are renowned as being triggers for changed practice, farmers trust farmers.

A web portal will support the key learnings of this project and will also bring together relevant resources and tools designed to encourage landowner decision making. The web portal will be named 'Growing Southern Gippsland'. The entire project will be documented through photography and video enabling the stories, the messages and learnings to be communicated to our community beyond the life of the project, securing the projects long term legacy.

 

This project aims to increase soil carbon sequestration in grazing land and make graziers more resilient to climate change through improved grazing practices and the addition of recycled organic compost.

This ‘proof-of-concept’ project will test the effectiveness of a) the addition of recycled organic compost and b) rotational grazing on 5 farms in northern Victoria as a means to:

  1. improve soil biology and soil structure;
  2. increase stable soil organic carbon and soil carbon sequestration; and
  3. enhance water infiltration and retention in the soil.

This has the potential to mitigate climate change through increasing carbon sequestration and reducing greenhouse gas emissions (through reducing emissions associated with manufacture, transportation and application of chemical inputs, and diversion of organic waste from landfill). It also has the potential to improve climate change adaptation by fostering greater resilience in farming systems to climate variability, through improved soil health and moisture retention, and reducing exposure to rising costs of inputs.

Project partners: Research Centre for Future Landscapes (La Trobe University); Biomix; The Green Cocky; Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority; Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources

Keeping Carbon on the Farm

Keeping Carbon on the Farm is a pilot project providing a suite of activities that dairy farmers and other primary producers can undertake to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and better prepare for climate change. These activities include re-vegetation, carbon-sequestering soil amelioration trials and energy reduction strategies.

The expected outcomes of the project will be a positive increase in levels of carbon sequestration in soil profiles, a reduction in electrical energy usage and better understanding of how climate change will impact on our regional dairy farmers.  It is also expected that soil health, animal health and productivity generally will improve on the project farm.

The project will be undertaken over a 2-year period on an exemplar farm in the Heytesbury District in South West Victoria. This area includes the townships of Camperdown, Cobden, Timboon, Simpson, Peterborough, Port Campbell and Princetown. Project partners include Deakin University (Warrnambool), Corangamite Shire, Corangamite CMA, Camperdown Compost, Triple R Biochar and Power 4 Farmers Project.

If you’d like further information contact Geoff Rollinson on 0427 983 755, send an email to geoff@heytesburylandcare.org.au or postal contact is: Geoff Rollinson, Landcare Coordinator, Heytesbury District Landcare Network, PO Box 69, Timboon, VIC 3268

 

For generations, the Latrobe Valley has proudly been Victoria's energy hub. Now, declining global coal prices and the realities of climate change mean the Valley will face major changes in upcoming years. With the recent closure of Hazelwood power station, now is the time to imagine a new future, and to lead a just transition to this future together. Everyone has the power to make a difference in addressing climate change.

Leadership for Change will create connections across the community and empower people from all walks of life to raise their voices, share ideas, and to engage with each other to find lasting local solutions. Throughout 2019, the Leadership for Change project will support 60 community leaders of the Valley to:

  • Skill Up to build confidence and skills through training in communications, community engagement, community building and adaptive leadership.
  • Reach Out to the community by facilitating Conversations for Change - small in-depth conversations held in people’s homes and in community organisations across the valley, which address topics of transitions, climate change and air quality.
  • Get Active by developing resources to spur action within the Latrobe Valley community and beyond.

This project aims to create the social mandate for meaningful action toward transition, which would strengthen Victoria’s role as a climate change leader within Australia and the world. Overall, the project will engage over 700 residents of the Valley in structured Conversations for Change. Shared stories and hopes will be compiled into a Community Transition Vision to be published in April 2020.

 

Nitrogen use efficiency can be improved by deep banding ammonia-based fertiliser, but none of the research has been done in the high rainfall zone of southern Victoria. Southern Farming Systems trial project aims to establish if this research is valid in Victorian environment and that the technique can reduce nitrous oxide emissions, denitrification and nitrate leaching

The research will help to determine if this practise is suitable for high rainfall zone cropping and if there are gains to be received from the deep placement of ammonia-based fertiliser compared to surface application. The trial will be sown with three different treatment rates of nitrogen as ammonium, deep banded. The trial is replicated at three sites across the southern Victorian cropping zone; Bradvale, Inverleigh and Toongabbie.

 

Climate change is increasing the threat of erosion and flooding along coastlines globally. The current solution to coastal protection – engineered structures such as seawalls and breakwaters – are expensive, non-adaptive, and have significant impacts on marine ecosystems and coastal processes. Nature-based coastal defence harnesses the natural coastal protection service of habitats such as dunes, mangroves, saltmarsh and shellfish reefs. In this project, we are trialling a novel hybrid approach to coastal protection, which uses custom-designed concrete planting pods in conjunction with mangroves to reduce wave energy and coastal erosion, while enhancing mangrove habitat and biodiversity.

The first six months of the project have involved two primary activities (1) community consultation to facilitate discussion about the increased risks of coastal inundation and erosion to increase preparedness and start adaptation planning now and (2) engineering the concrete pods to optimise stability, wave attenuation and mangrove growth. The installation will begin January-February 2019. We will assess the effectiveness of this approach through a cost-benefit analysis of the mangrove planting pods in comparison to existing engineering solutions. This will take into account the primary project goal, to provide coastal protection, in addition to secondary co-benefits provided by mangroves, such as biodiversity and carbon storage.

Organics Diversion Trial

The City of Greater Bendigo are focusing on organics diversion from landfill, with a kerbside organics collection serviced introduced to urban residential properties in 2016 the next target area has been identified as rural townships and businesses. Audits have found that over 50% of waste found in commercial bins is organic in nature, and similar figures have been found for rural areas. In order to address this, the City of Greater Bendigo will provide commercial size worm farms to six rural townships in order to offer a means to recycling their organic waste; processing up to 20kg of organic waste per day this will tie in with other home diversion projects offered by the Council.

The City commenced a small organics collection for food handling businesses in the Bendigo CBD in March 2018, this project will assist in expanding this service significantly by providing a daily collection of 47lt kitchen bins for food waste, food scraps, paper towel and napkins and any compostable food packaging. The trial is hoping increase knowledge around the impact of organics in landfill and understand any barriers that businesses may have when sorting their organic waste from general waste, feedback will be used to develop a plan for a full scale service to be rolled out to all cafes’ restaurants and other businesses that handle large amounts of food in 2020. The trial has diverted over 78 tonnes of organic hospitality waste from landfill since commencing in March.

 

The Wodonga Community Solar Project responds innovatively to climate change by implementing a working example of community renewable energy model that provides opportunities and benefits to the entire community. The model seeks to help low-income households and renters gain some of the benefits derived from PV solar with the development of an Energy benefit program. The project will deliver a range of community investment information and community engagement sessions through the development of the working model and benefit program.

 

The project is led by City of Wodonga in partnership with Renewable Albury Wodonga Energy Inc. (RAW Energy). RAW Energy is an incorporated community group working to increase the uptake of renewable energy in Albury Wodonga. RAW Energy worked closely with the Wodonga Council throughout 2017 on a feasibility study and business case for a community owned solar installation that aims to deliver the benefits to people in the community that would otherwise be left behind in the energy transition.

The Wodonga Council Plan 2017-2021 specifically details council’s desire and commitment to support the installation of a community solar farm in Wodonga. Council recognises that renters and low-income households do not have the same accessibility to the benefits from PV solar as the rest of the community has. With some 1200 DHHS homes and over 175 DHA homes, there is a ready demand for this type of project.

 
The increasingly warmer and drier climate in Victoria due to climate change will increase the occurrence of bush fires. This project explores a deployable protection system that is designed for firefighters. It is an origami system that can be unfolded in seconds into a dome which helps protect a person against the deadly radiant heat and embers.
 

According to the Victorian Flood Warning Consultative Committee, flooding rates in Victoria are increasing in recent years due to climate change and extensive land use for housing development. Flooding results in material damage and substantial costs to affected communities and solutions are needed to mitigate these effects. Roads are extensively spread in the territory and can be used to provide useful real-time information due to their vast areal coverage.

This project will explore the implementation of self-sensing flood resilient smart roads that automatically recognise the amount of water on the road surface through specifically-developed sensors and alert authorities and emergency services in real time about the magnitude and exact location of the flooding. This will support the quick initiation of contingency plans in a specific area.

The system can be used to enhance post-event resiliency by indicating available and safe evacuation routes hence improving cities’ resilience to flooding in real-time.

Tarnagulla community-based emergency management study

The Resilience Action Plan for and by the Tarnagulla Community is a research project investigating the status of the town and community which will result in the development of a resilience plan.

Climate change exposes Central Goldfield’s communities to major impacts. Rural decline and aging populations effect the capacity for small town communities to be resilient.

The Tarnagulla Alternative Energy Group (TAEG) is working with the local community in collaboration with DELWP, the Tarnagulla Action Group and the RMIT Centre for Urban Research's Climate Change and Resilience group - who will be conducting the study.

The members of TAEG anticipate that community participation, which includes several fun workshops and informative events, will strengthen relationships between Tarnagulla residents and increase resourcefulness.

The project includes three stages to be better prepared for current and future events. Identify existing strengths across social, environmental, and economic factors. Identify potential challenges in context of future scenarios. Identify and help support development of connections with relevant organizations, identify beneficial solutions for the community and, ultimately, result in the Resilience Action Plan for and by the Tarnagulla Community.

The plan will have ideas and information specific to Tarnagulla which will provide relevance for future projects. The community will be instrumental in developing the plan and it’s therefore likely that they will feel a sense of ownership which could lead to increased future participation.

It is anticipated that the Resilience Action Plan will be a blueprint for other small communities to assist them develop their own plan.

 

Buildings consume an enormous amount of energy, resulting in tremendous detrimental impacts on the environment. Building operations in Australia consume about 26% of the country’s energy and are responsible for about 280,000 tons of CO2 emissions each day. In addressing the detrimental impacts of residential buildings, zero carbon housing is proposed as a solution to achieve energy conservation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This research proposes an integrated framework towards zero carbon housing in Victoria, from the perspectives of policy incentives and building design, which are vital to the uptake of zero carbon housing.

This project first proposes a framework of policy incentives regarding feed-in tariff and green buildings, based on policy review, survey, and economic analysis. The project then optimises building design to achieve zero carbon housing, through energy conservation, recovery, and generation. This project contributes to reducing detrimental impacts of the housing sector with the following expected outcomes: (1) a set of proposed policy incentives regarding feed-in tariff and green buildings, which can be referred to by the state government agencies to promote zero carbon housing in the studied region; (2) building design prototypes of zero carbon housing, which can be referred to by industry for cost-effective design; and (3) it is expected that this research will also be transferable and hence referrable to by other states and globally.

Overall, this research fosters sustainable housing concepts and promotes zero carbon housing in the studied region.

Wannon River floodplain restoration: demonstrating practical climate change mitigation action

The Upper Wannon River floodplain surrounding Walker Swamp, adjacent to the Grampians National Park, was drained from the 1950s for agriculture and later converted to a Tasmanian Blue Gum plantation forest. The project is creating a community demonstration site for sustainable floodplain restoration and management by removing the plantations and reversing artificial drainage across more than 1000 acres of land owned by Nature Glenelg Trust. These activities are restoring natural river floodplain function, recreating wetland habitats for threatened and iconic species, like Brolga, and will buffer the site against climate change by making the most of every drop water that is available in the future from the Walker Swamp catchment.

The Walker Swamp Restoration Reserve provides an excellent opportunity to demonstrate sustainable water management, threatened species recovery and large-scale habitat regeneration.

The project will result in the restoration of habitat for a wide range of threatened species such as: the Wimmera Bottlebrush, Little Galaxias, Growling Grass Frog, Western Swamp Crayfish and Australasian Bittern, as well as a range of other important or iconic species, such as the Brolga and the White-bellied Sea Eagle. Carefully planned restoration works will return natural inundation patterns across the site for the first time in several decades, which in turn will bring back and sustain the missing wildlife of Walker Swamp.