In a bid to inspire others to ‘go green’, Cardinia Shire Council is using its Aspirational Energy Transition Plan to demonstrate the simplicity and benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy.
“Leading by example, we hope to inspire similar action across the community as well as higher levels of government and larger organisations,” says Environment Team Leader, Desiree Lovell.
Having set an impressive target of zero emissions by 2024, Council needed detailed energy audits of selected facilities as part of efforts to improve energy efficiency. Requiring specialised research expertise for the project, they turned to Australia’s leading postgraduate internship program, APR.Intern.
“We were attracted to the program and the support they provided. They helped ensure the project’s success by matching us with the right skillset and overseeing the project’s delivery,”
Desiree Lovell, Cardinia Shire Council Team Leader
Cardinia Shire Council found a match in Deakin University student, Tarek Ahmed. Currently completing a PhD on the energy performance assessment of healthcare buildings, he completed detailed energy consumption audits across six Council facilities and identified efficiency improvement and energy reduction opportunities such as transition to LED lighting and solar power.
“A clear picture of current performance and potential improvements across community and sports facilities, a children’s centre and a library will enable Council to prioritise and cost energy upgrade projects such as transition to renewable energy sources,” explains Tarek.
Seeing his expertise applied in the real world has been a game changer for Tarek, whose findings will be incorporated into an ongoing rollout of building improvements. Having seen the impact his work can have he hopes to work with industry in the future.
“It feels good that my work is not simply theoretical but is having a practical impact and making a difference. I now hope to work with industry in the future,” he says.
While it may be some time before Tarek can fulfil these ambitions, he is already reaping benefits from his dip in the industry pool. The PhD student has been busy refining his research methods thanks to new insights into the research needs and expectations of government and corporate environments.
“Working on this project has benefited my PhD, I have been able to update my research based on knowledge gained through the experience. As I pursue a career in building and built environment research, this industry exposure and the confidence I have gained communicating my research to colleagues outside of my field will be invaluable,”
Tarek Ahmed, PhD Intern at Cardinia Shire Council
Desiree says Cardinia Shire Council gained valuable insight into research methodology from the experience. “We also learned how to get the most out of research within an industry environment so everyone benefits. This will be valuable as we continue our sustainability journey,” she says.
With a reputation for innovation and collaboration, it comes as no surprise that Cardinia Shire Council is interested in continuing to work with APR.Intern.
“This is a great opportunity to tie research to practical initiatives. Council benefits from access to research expertise, while emerging research leaders gain vital industry exposure and understanding of how their research applies in a business setting,” Desiree says.
With its supportive approach, ability to address industry challenges and access to research talent and industry contacts, APR.Intern is clearly onto a winning formula. Perhaps though, this time, the biggest winner is the environment.