Going green on the Point

A Gold Coast provider is making the most of the sunshine to save money… and the planet

By Lillian Radulova

Above:  L to R, Banora Point residents, Bev Hogg, Cathie Lowson, Jean Thorburn, Barbara Donehue

At a time when the entire nation feels the pressure to reduce their carbon footprint, more and more aged care facilities and retirement villages are leading the way and saving money at the same time.

Ocean View at Banora Point on the Gold Coast offers a combination of independent living facilities and 24-hour nursing and respite care. Recently they demonstrated their green credentials with the installation on 1 July of 588 solar panels.

Ocean View’s community networking coordinator, Shirley Pickering, estimated that the solar panels will generate 260 megawatts of electricity a year while dropping Ocean View’s yearly emissions of carbon by 320 tonnes.

Ms Pickering said the solar panel installation will also help lower the residents’ general service charges and contribute to a better environment for the entire community.

Although it was difficult at this stage to provide an exact figure for the savings, she confirmed the savings would be equally distributed to residents, as a proportionate reduction in their weekly costs.

“We hear on the news everyday how changes to the federal budget are tightening the cost of living,” Ms Pickering said.

“So this is a perfect opportunity to provide a bit of extra financial assistance to our current residents while making an investment for our future residents.”

According to Ms Pickering, this is not the village’s first environmentally-focused initiative.

“Aside from solar panels, we have already installed energy-efficient light bulbs, dual flush toilets, water saving shower heads and sensor lights in all of the apartments.

“The solar panels also provide electricity for the leisure centre, an extension to residents’ homes, as well as heating for the swimming pools.”

The residents of Ocean View are equally excited about the initiative, according to Ms Pickering, who said they “have been talking about it every day”.

“They think the company is innovative and forward thinking in taking action and really believe it will be valuable for them.

“Part of the Ocean View ethos is to be forward-thinking and solution-focused, and I see the implementation of these solar panels as an initiative that totally encompasses this.

“…We’re always being very proactive and looking for new ways for residents to live more sustainably. Sustainability is about setting an example.”

Other aged care providers have recently announced similar efforts to reduce carbon emissions and minimise other environmental impacts while reducing costs.

CEO of Catholic Health Australia (CHA), Martin Laverty, recently said in relation to the carbon tax debate, that many Catholic hospitals and aged care services have also “commenced efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions”.
His examples included one of Southern Cross Care Tasmania’s residential care facilities, located in Hobart, which uses geothermal energy through a system which draws heat from the city’s treated sewage, while another also in Hobart, has cut their energy cost from $250,000 per annum to $60,000.

Likewise, Goodwin in the ACT has recently undertaken a major installation of solar panels.

Tags: aged-care, carbon-emissions, catholic-health-australia, ocean-view-at-banora-point, solar-panels, southern-cross-care-tasmania, water-saving,

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