Going green through innovative scheme

Article image - Going green through innovative scheme Motel owner Linda Close will reduce her environmental footprint and lower operating costs.

A small business in the Victorian town of Warrnambool is adding major sustainability upgrades to its buildings with a little help from Council and a new incentive scheme.

Warrnambool’s City Central Motel and Apartments is adding a 20 kilowatt photovoltaic array, water tanks, double glazing and insulation through an Environmental Upgrade Agreement.

Owner, Linda Close, said, “Motels traditionally are not very environmentally friendly, they are big energy users.”

Through the Victorian Small Business Festival, Close learnt about Environmental Upgrade Agreements where businesses can access finance through the Sustainable Australia Fund.

The fund, originally established by the City of Melbourne, provides competitive loans which are repaid through council rates.

The loan is attached to the property rather than an individual and can be repaid over several years.

Before undertaking the sustainability measures Close took advantage of Council’s free sustainability business audit service shortly after taking over the motel in late 2017.

That process looked at the motel’s energy consumption and what actions would have the greatest impact for the business.

“I would highly recommend it because you are tapping into a whole platform of experts who are there to help and take you through the process.

“It’s rigorous but not onerous. And because it is an unsecured loan it does not affect your ability to access other commercial loans.”

Warrnambool Mayor, Tony Herbert, said, “These programs can make a huge difference for businesses and if you can cut carbon emissions, improve the customer experience and reduce operating costs that’s a great outcome.

“Council has made commitments to work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions within the municipality and the work done by City Central Motel and Apartments sets a great example for other businesses who might be thinking along similar lines.”

In addition to the major work being done at the motel, it also has FOGO kitchen caddies in each room which are lowering the volume of waste being sent to landfill.