Environment House operates as a local hub for the community, offering an inclusive space where individuals can seek advice, learn skills and engage in a community actively and collaboratively adapting to climate change at the local scale.
Initially set up as an eco-shop, the team behind Environment House were awarded funding to develop a ‘Cool Communities’ demonstration house. With this funding, the team quickly established the centre as a gateway for knowledge sharing on sustainability and adaptive climate change practices.
Environment House has progressively evolved by taking funding opportunities and initiating projects that have enabled them to extend their reach and share their collective knowledge. This in turn has built the capacity of individuals and organisations in Perth to live and operate more sustainably.
A hub for building and bridging climate adaptation knowledge
Established in 2001, Environment House is a volunteer-led organisation in Bayswater, Western Australia, focused on sharing resources and supporting a shift to a more sustainable way of life for the wider community.
As a hub for eco-knowledge, the volunteers at Environment House seek to share their practices, experiences and stories through a range of workshops and events. Designed to build the capacity of the community, the workshops feature waste management practices, organic gardening techniques, and household energy and water efficiency measures.
Workshops are run throughout the school holidays in conjunction with local schools and child care centres. These workshops spark curiosity in the local youth and encourage changes in the way they perceive and interact with the environment and sustainable practices.
Other events include Interactive tours of local green spaces and wetlands to help residents discover and connect more deeply with their local environments through storytelling and conversation. Regular ‘Share Your Spare’ events also encourage the sharing of excess home grown produce and seeds, fostering relationship building and knowledge sharing amongst community members.
Meanwhile, Environment House’s eco-shop continues to facilitate conversations and sharing of ideas that lead to tangible changes in consumption practices. Since its humble beginnings in 2001, the shop has supported local eco-businesses to grow and thrive by providing a physical space and platform for the marketing of sustainable goods and services.
Through these programs and services, Environment House exemplifies the ‘building and bridging the knowledge base’ theme. The stories and knowledge generated through their work tend to fall within the informal/objective quadrant of ‘knowing’ climate change at the local scale.
From the house to the neighbourhood – and beyond
Environment House represents more than just a physical place for building connections and exchanging climate change adaptation knowledge, ideas, stories and experiences. It is a movement powered by committed volunteers towards a more resilient and climate ready Western Australia.
The constellation of experiences and knowledge offered by the volunteers at Environment House provides the community with the expertise needed to evaluate and challenge the status quo. This has catalysed transformative changes to the individual practices and understandings of climate change held by members of the Bayswater community (and beyond).
Environment House has worked closely and effectively with various local and state government authorities to provide energy and water efficiency audits to different segments of their community. By utilising the expertise of their trained sustainability auditors and building strong and lasting relationships with government agencies, the organisation has been able to undertake resource consumption audits and implement cost saving measures in individual households, schools and businesses across the greater Perth region.
Working with Hillcrest Primary School, Environment House conducted an energy and water efficiency audit, enabling the implementation of new practices. These new practices have saved the school in excess of $10,000 per year since 2015.
In addition, these audits presented an opportunity to educate and engage students and staff on sustainability. This helped to bridge knowledge gaps and build the capacity for transformative change within the school and in the individual homes of students and staff.
Working with the City of Bayswater, Environment House also developed and delivered the Bayswater $WAP Program in 2015. Under this grassroots initiative, over $11,000 worth of eco-hardware was given away to local residents to reduce household energy and water use.
Through the Bayswater $WAP Program, Environment House also provided expertise to build the knowledge of participating households. Workshops and conversations with participants provided information – such as how to select and install the right appliances for the right household – ensuring sustained outcomes from the program.
Building and bridging knowledge at the local scale has helped residents, schools and businesses better understand and realise savings in their energy and water usage. To this end Environment House is helping to future proof Bayswater and the surrounding region from climate shocks and impacts.
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