Staying cool and healthy at home in an El Niño summer
Renew’s Hunter Region Branch recently held its first public meeting in Newcastle for some time. Our guest presenters were Dr John Shiel from EnviroSustain, a consultancy for low carbon buildings, and local sustainability guru and climate action advocate, John L. Hayes.
The presenters gave practical information and recommend resources on:
- installing cost-effective retrofits
- updating appliances and using them more strategically
- creating an efficient one-room Cool Retreat
- simple behavioural adaptions to stay cool and survive heatwaves.
Renew – Hunter Region Branch
Renew is a member-based non-profit organisation providing expert, independent advice and sustainable solutions to households, government, and industry across Australia. We were previously known as the Alternative Technology Association established in 1980 – over four decades ago, living in a sustainable manner and using resources wisely was considered ‘alternative.’ And in many cases and places, it unfortunately still is!
Sustainability advice, advocacy and research
Renew members were among the first people in Australia to install solar on their roofs, facing many challenges such as connecting to the grid and with no independent advice available. As the number of people keen to learn how to live more sustainably grows, so does the reach and success of Renew’s expertise. Working with a diverse range of community and industry partners, we advocate for policies that promote renewable energy and cut emissions, make our homes healthier, more affordable and climate resilient.
Today, Renew engages with more than 250,000 people each year around Australia and overseas – our expertise lies in our technical knowledge, communications capacity and the substantial knowledge base of our membership. We work closely with project partners including research institutions, governments and industry to ensure our information and advice maintains relevance and keeps pace with the rapidly evolving market for efficient, sustainable technology.
Renew members form a vibrant network of people actively reducing their impact on the environment by making tangible changes to their homes and lifestyles, and sharing skills with people in their area. There are volunteer-run branches in most major cities and several regional areas around Australia, including the Hunter. A reason this national sustainability organisation has persisted for decades is in its ability to connect with people and places through its network of community groups.
The main goals of Renew branches are to:
- learn more about sustainability
- connect with sustainability experts, enthusiasts and residents
- inspire more Australians to live sustainably
- advocate for change that benefits all Australians and the planet.
Hunter Region Branch
Following a couple of years in recess, the Hunter Region Branch re-emerged in Spring 2022 at the Sustainable Futures Festival in Port Stephens. We met many people keen to learn about making their homes more energy efficient, growing their own food or keeping their local neighbourhoods clean and green.
Renew member, Les Pinney, spoke to people about his electric vehicle from an owner’s perspective. We know of 5 people who indicated they were ready to buy an EV after talking to Les! For resources on EVs and charging options, read our Travelling Electric page.
At the festival, Neil Ritchie displayed his DIY portable sun-tracking solar panel and described how to construct one yourself for camping or caravanning trips. Neil wrote about this project in the September 2021 edition of EcoUpdate.
Our community group is looking for opportunities to involve and connect homeowners, renters, businesses, schools and groups in the Hunter’s regional communities with the expert advice and support for us to learn to live, work and play in a sustainable and healthy way. Networking and creating partnerships is one way of achieving this. We are keen to hear from anyone wishing to join Renew, volunteer or just come along to our events and activities. Share your knowledge and expertise like Les and Neil – or join us along the steep learning curve we are all on!
How to get involved
So … what can you expect if you join us? Well it’s up to you – as much or as little as you like! As with most community groups, we are always looking for volunteers to assist with events, projects or educational initiatives. We don’t have an office and we volunteer our time from home or meeting venues.
- Contact the Hunter Region Branch and ask to be added to our mailing list for local events and activities. Let us know your areas of interest in or knowledge of sustainable living.
- Join Renew as a member
- Subscribe to one or both magazines – Sanctuary and Renew, or buy one for family or friends.
- Renew – what we do
- Travelling Electric – owning and operating electric vehicles.
- Sustainable House Day
- EcoUpdate April 2022 – Renew taking custody of Z-NET in Australia
- EcoUpdate Sept 2021 – Tracking the sun – Solar on the go
- EcoNetwork Members in Action: Living with and charging an EV
- EcoNetwork Sustainable Futures Festival