There’s a clear sense among supporters of Low Carbon Living, Southern Highlands that now is the time to establish a network of businesses committed to sustainability. With the rollout on 22 March of the Low Carbon Living national program, there’s hope that other regions such as the Margaret River- Busselton region, Byron Bay, Central Australia and Kangaroo Island will come on board.

Ecotourism Australia is supporting the national program, together with UNSW Sydney’s Cooperative Research Centre for Low Carbon Living, and the Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute (BMWHI).  “Some of us have been banging on about climate change for years,” admits Miles Lochhead, who runs the Southern Highlands-based environmental and resource management consultancy, zerrro.  “I think every community needs to consider a low carbon lifestyle, both at a personal level and from a business perspective – but I am biased!”

Mr Lochhead says the opportunity to be part of Low Carbon Living, Southern Highlands is too good to miss. “We saw this as an excellent opportunity for local business to get on board, make a difference, and save money.”  The founding chair of Low Carbon Living Southern Highlands, Randall Walker, agrees.  He says consumers want to make positive purchasing decisions and want to spend their money with business operators who are committed to sustainability.

“If a business isn’t able to overtly demonstrate its commitment to sustainability, consumers are less likely to be interested in them,” Mr Walker says.  Mr Walker believes local operators are realistic about the benefits of sustainability.  “Businesses in the NSW Southern Highlands are keen to adopt a sustainable approach for the right reasons.

“They have an altruistic commitment to sustainability. But they also know there are economic benefits associated with low carbon living because it leads to more efficient use of resources and lower operating costs.”

One of the benefits of the Low Carbon Living, Southern Highlands program is that it provides surety for business and for consumers because members are audited and rated on their energy and water use, as well as their waste reduction.  The program also sustains and promotes a network that connects suppliers to operators, and operators to consumers. As Mr Walker discovered, the conversations generated by low carbon living have a domino effect.

“For example, all 18 golf courses in the region are coming together to provide electric golf carts. Once we got talking about having electric carts, we realised the next step is to use solar energy to power them.”

The founding members of Low Carbon Living Southern Highlands include BDCU Alliance Bank, RePower Southern Highlands, the Moss Vale Golf Club, and Climate Action Now Wingecarribee (CANWin).  The economic development team at Wingecarribee Shire Council also support the initiative.

Representatives from Low Carbon Living, Southern Highlands will join their Blue Mountains counterparts on 22 March 2018 to launch the Low Carbon Living national program.  “The Low Carbon Living national program empowers everyone to address climate change by making positive decisions about their use of resources, where they shop and what services they support,” says BMWHI executive director Dr John Merson.

BMWHI piloted the Low Carbon Living program in the Blue Mountains some years ago.  “We now have over 80 businesses involved in Low Carbon Living, Blue Mountains, and we expect the initiative will be equally successful in the Southern Highlands and other regions,” Dr Merson says.

Research undertaken as part of the LCL program shows 82% of visitors and 91% of residents would choose a local business that has made an effort to reduce its carbon footprint.  The research also found 50% of visitors would choose a low carbon destination over one not known for reducing its carbon impact.

BMWHI invites you to join us for the Low Carbon Living national program launch, at 5pm on 22 March at Scenic World in Katoomba. Please register here to attend: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/low-carbon-living-national-program-launch-tickets-43425284194