Small businesses, big savings

By Adam Coleman

Outback Oasis, a 12-month pilot project designed to increase profitability and improve resource efficiency within Broken Hill businesses and the community, has seen widespread participation and returned total energy and water savings of $118,925.

A combined venture from Country Energy, the Department of State and Regional Development (DSRD) and project managers Village Green, ‘Outback Oasis: Creating a Sustainable Future’ was a hands-on process involving small business assessments, workshops, training and one-on-one contact.

“This outstanding project has resulted in significant savings using simple and practical money saving ideas,” Minister for Regional Development, David Campbell told

In environmental and economic terms the businesses involved in the Outback Oasis program achieved an overall impact of reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 5.17 per cent (442,329 tonnes) resulting in energy savings of more than $80,000 and water savings of 15.53 per cent, or the equivalent of 18 Olympic-sized swimming pools, with a dollar saving of $31,000.

According to Country Energy general manager, Brian Steffen the challenge was “getting ownership from the traders, getting them to participate".

“I suppose we have a multi-pronged approach with the community. We are working with the schools. All that awareness filters out almost by osmosis throughout the community. You’ll have one trader talking to another who mightn’t have come onto the program,” he says.

The Minister says there are some quick wins where businesses can save money and resources without a capital investment.

“Even those that did require investment showed a clear rate of commercial return. On the back of an envelope you could work out if you do this and spend $100 you could save $100 a year forever,” he says.

The average small business saved around $534 each in their energy bills, $207 on water bills and $47 in transport and waste.

While Broken Hill is a small community the project could be utilised elsewhere, suggests Mr Campbell.
“There is no doubt that it is transferable because it is effectively an audit process where someone goes and talks to people about what they are doing with their energy and water,” he says.

“People need to understand that fixing a leaking tap, might save water but it will also save money.
“Often the need is to find someone who can champion it, so that people see it is morally the right thing to do, but also from just a business perspective there is cost savings for your business.”

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