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Every day, we are creating our future. Although our environment and climate are facing challenges, there are many ways Australians are taking action to create a more healthy, safe, fair and affordable way forward.
Explore the benefits of sustainable living in the Future Now pop-up exhibition created by the Australian Museum.
Whether you’re looking for small changes to make in your own home or want to be inspired by larger-than-life solutions, we will show you that there is plenty of hope and potential for tackling climate change in our communities.
Electrification is the only way we really know to eliminate the majority of emissions from Australian households and small business. Those emissions come from the way we drive, the way we cook things, the way we heat our water, and the way we heat our homes and businesses. So with electrification being the only answer, we actually now have technologies that can eliminate the roughly 60% of our domestic economy emissions that come from these things. And it's a really simple recipe of a small number of machines in your life that you replace every ten years anyway. Your cars, your hot water heater, your space heater, your kitchen stove top and your oven, and then for extra credit you can put solar on your roof and add a battery, and that is the climate solution that eliminates all of the emissions from an Australian household.
What really excites me is that we are redefining infrastructure. In the 20th century infrastructure was dams and transmission lines and roads but the infrastructure of the 21st century is more community based, more household based. So the biggest energy storage facility in the Australian economy in 2040 will be 20 million electric vehicles, dwarfing the size of the Snowy 2.0 project. The biggest energy generator likely in Australia in the 2040s is our collective community and rooftop solar. So our suburbs, our cities are literally becoming integral to our energy infrastructure and it really is going to reshape the economy in very vibrant ways that are good for us. Climate change is happening. I think it's important to have a house that is easily adaptable, easily changeable.
By building modules it means that at the end of the building's life it can be disassembled and reused as another house or components can be recycled in themselves. MAAP stands for Modular Architectural Adaptable Panel. With MAAP house, it's a low footprint on the earth, both carbon footprint and the actual footprint that we do on the Earth. The boards are non-combustible, so it's good for the fire areas. It's steel-framed, so no termites, and the boards aren't affected by moisture so good in flood areas as well, if you happen to get flooded. The advantages of using prefabricated panels are that it's really fast to build, this house went up from just concrete slab to a finished frame in just three days, there's less waste during the construction process, and it's a really high quality building construction method.
We've got a lot of planter beds around the house and we've planted a lot of natives there and food plants. We've built in some features into the house to provide some safety to our family, particularly if there are bushfires around, which is a big risk in this climate. So having the sprinkler system set up outside and the rainwater tanks is really great knowing we can turn those on if we need to evacuate and that will help protect the house. This building has been built to be all electric. It has an electric hot water system connected to a heat pump to do the heating hot water and for cooking we've got an induction stove and an electric oven. If we're talking about getting to zero carbon, all we really need to do in the building sector is electrify everything and then switch to 100% renewable electricity. And we're there. Hi. I'm Belinda. I'm Andrew. Ten things we do to live more sustainably.
Solar panels. So solar panels are great because they can drastically reduce your electricity bills. And the payback period in Australia is only around three years. Battery storage for our electricity. So we've got solar panels on the roof, which is great for generating electricity during the daytime. But most of the time we're not at home using that. So the battery is great for storing the electricity and allowing us to use it later on when we're home. Electric transport. We've converted a motorbike to electric and we're saving up to be able to buy an electric car in the future. Recycling and refillable containers. We recycle, we reuse where we can and for some consumables we're using refillable containers. Farm boxes. For our fruit and veg. We're purchasing farm boxes, so that's direct from the farmer to our house, which is great.
Replacing gas appliances with electric. We're switching from gas to electric so that we can use 100% green energy and reduce gas fumes in our house and improve the health of the family. Passive solar design. Passive solar is designing your house to reap the benefits of the sun, which means warming it in winter and providing shade so that it's cool in summer. Buying 100% green power. So one of the first things we did was to ask our electricity provider to supply us with 100% green power to make sure that we are reducing the impact on the environment. Holidaying locally. We've just been making the most of what's around us and we've really been enjoying just holidaying locally. Moving to green super and banking. It pays to do your research. We looked around to try and find which are the type of companies that will invest our money in the right ethical choices. We have a net zero plan for our family, but the most important thing is to start reducing our emissions now.
Looking after our places
Living sustainably creates homes that are safer, healthier and more affordable.
➔ Teachers and students can follow the Future Now learning journey to learn about positive solutions for the impacts of climate change.
Comfortable by design
A house can be made warm in winter and cool in summer if it is oriented to the sun, with well-designed shade structures, insulation and air flow. ‘Passive house’ design gives a stable temperature with little need for air conditioning.
Giving waste new life
Keeping windows shaded in summer with eaves, awnings and curtains keeps out the worst of the heat. A trellis with leafy vines gives shade and lets warmth through in winter when the vines are bare.
Solar roof tiles blend into a roof, create power and heat up water.
➔ Did you know that Tasmania and the ACT are now running on 100% renewable energy. South Australia will soon be 100%. NSW is expected to reach 84% renewables by 2030.
Birds, bats and possums like fruit too. To avoid hurting or killing them, use white nets that are very fine – so you can’t put your little finger through.
Renewable energy - powering up
Electricity from wind, solar, hydropower and other clean sources is rapidly growing in Australia. Renewables are providing more jobs and cheaper electricity, supporting people, planet and prosperity.
➔ Join a community solar or wind project, look up grants to help you or your landlord install solar panels, or ask your electricity provider to supply you with renewable power.
Collecting rain means more water for people and gardens. It also saves on water bills.
Home energy heroes
Electric heat-pump air conditioners and heat-pump water heaters are excellent replacements for gas units. More efficient and between 3 to 10 times cheaper to run, heat-pumps also give us healthier air to breathe, indoors and out.
Cats in Australia eat around 1.8 billion native animals every year, driving many species to the brink of extinction. Keeping cats safely inside protects our biodiversity.
Sustainable building blocks
SIPS (Structural Insulated Panels) with built-in insulation are great for building quickly and easily. Their materials are recyclable and resistant to fire.
Insulation: an easy win
Tired of having a hot house in summer and an ice box in winter? Insulating your roof, walls and windows helps keep you comfortable, without using electricity.
➔ Double-glazed windows provide excellent insulation. You can even DIY with cheap, removeable double-glazing film!
Sustainable materials are good for creating beautiful, strong, low-emissions buildings. Building with bamboo, timber and recycled materials makes the most of precious resources.
➔ Check out government support for installing panels - like the nationwide ‘Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme’.
Power from the sun
Australian engineers are world leaders in solar technologies. Solar is now the cheapest way to produce electricity. A battery gives reliable power even when the sun isn’t shining.
Built for extremes
We know the climate is getting wilder. More people are upgrading their houses to better cope with floods, storms, heat and fire.
➔ See AdaptNSW and insurance companies for guides on making your house a good shelter from extreme weather and fires.
Bright lights, low electricity
LED bulbs use less energy than old-style bulbs. They are just as bright and last up to 20 years.
Your recycling bin lets you give waste new life. This makes the most of the resources and energy already used. Keeping recyclables out of landfill sites also reduces pollution. Buying less and avoiding plastic packaging helps too.
Running on sunlight
Many people in Australia are now charging their cars and e-bikes using free energy from the sun - thanks to rooftop and community solar systems.
➔ In many areas soft plastics can be taken to supermarkets for recycling. You can also find recycling stations for electronics.
We need to switch quickly to clean electrical power at home, at work and on the road. Transitioning from coal, oil and gas to renewables is crucial to bringing our climate back into a safe balance. Clean, renewable electricity protects our health and is creating jobs growth and energy exports.
Bush tucker garden
Indigenous fruits, herbs and vegetables are delicious. Letting these important plants grow boosts our health and supports land, native insects and animals.
➔ Try native fig, bush tomato, lemon myrtle, native mint and more. Learn more at indigigrow.com.au
With a ‘chicken tractor’, you can have fresh eggs and a trimmed, fertilised lawn.
You can help your health and your planet’s health by eating less meat and more veggie-based meals each week. Big-scale meat farming causes extensive environmental impact.
➔ A food co-op (like BoxDivvy) brings fresh food direct from farms. This supports farmers and often costs less than supermarkets.
Native bee home
You can attract and nurture any of Australia’s 1700 native bee species with native flowers and a water source.
➔ You can build a ‘bee hotel’ by drilling holes into a piece of timber. Or buy one at your local nursery.
Compost bins & worm farms
Throwing food out into landfill creates a huge amount of greenhouse gas as it rots. Composting food instead returns carbon and nutrients to the soil. Healthy soil builds healthy food.
➔ Many local councils offer compost and worm farm workshops as well as discounted kit to get you started.