The Blue Mountains Botanic Gardens at Mount Tomah were recently awarded a gold rating from the Low Carbon Living program in recognition of their achievements in the area of sustainability.
In November 2010 solar panels were introduced on the roof of the Visitor’s Centre with a 9.57kW system chosen to best utilise the available roof space and infrastructure of the Centre. A 1.8kW extension was then added in August 2011 and an additional 15kW PV system was installed in December 2016. All up, solar panels now provide 40% of the Garden’s energy needs. Additional energy is purchased from GreenPower, which displaces electricity usage with certified renewable energy. LED lighting is also used throughout the Centre.
The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden aims to be the first carbon neutral Botanic Gardens in the world and to be off grid entirely by 2020.
Another successful sustainable and cost-effective measure adopted by the Garden, has been to capture its own rainwater for irrigation and drinking water use.
In addition, over the last 15 years the sewage treatment systems have returned liquids to the garden irrigation via a filtration system. This has been upgraded to increase capacity and further process sewerage so that more can be retained on site and used to fertilise the garden during the dry seasons.
In terms of waste management, smart solar-powered Big Belly compacting bins were introduced this year, which compact waste to one eighth of its size. This initiative has freed up storage space and reduced waste collection by 80%.
Transport efficiency measures include the provision of electric mobility scooters for public use and a solar-powered shuttle bus to assist visitors around the garden.
Lisa Grieve, the Garden’s Visitor Experience Manager, says, “it is heart-warming and encouraging to receive positive feedback from visitors to the Garden, and in particular from children who participate in self-guided trails and attend environmentally aware workshops at the Education Centre”. The Garden is a testimony to the incredibly beautiful and resilient environment that surrounds us.
It is imperative that we, as custodians, acknowledge that our environment does not belong to us but is rather something that we inherit and conserve, so that the natural world continues to enrich and inspire future generations.