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Q&A with Pete Mercouriou, Senior Sustainability Officer at the City of Greater Geelong

100% Clean Bellarine recently spoke with Senior Sustainability Officer Pete Mercouriou about his role at the City of Greater Geelong and why our RE-lectrify Ocean Grove Industrial Estate project was selected for funding under the Climate Change Partnership Program.

What does your role as a Senior Sustainability Officer at CoGG involve?

My main role is delivering and implementing the City of Greater Geelong’s (CoGG) Climate Change Response Plan 2021 – 30.. The Plan outlines 89 actions across different principles. So there’s quite a lot of work that needs to be done under each of those actions.

My role involves staying updated on emerging sustainable technologies for energy and waste, as well as emerging community groups and commercial enterprises that could aid in achieving our goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2035, as outlined in the Climate Change Response Plan.

Within that, we have a new grant stream, the Climate Change Partnership Grant, which seeks to co-develop projects with business and community groups. 

What is the role of the Climate Change Partnership Program in achieving the objectives of the Climate Change Response Plan?

The grants program is important in mobilising the community’s support to meet CoGG’s climate change objectives. Community groups help to expand our capacity and amplify the work of our team. They also play an important role in facilitating conversations among community stakeholders about implementing new renewable energy, waste management, and conservation and environmental solutions.

Why was the RE-lectrify Ocean Grove Industrial Estate Project selected? 

There are a couple of reasons. Firstly, there’s a huge gap in the market when it comes to assisting small to medium-sized businesses in transitioning away from gas and coal-fired power and helping them save money on their energy requirements. 

Small businesses often don’t have the resources or knowledge to research and understand the pros and cons of various energy-efficient and potentially cost-saving interventions. Whereas from a housing or residential point of view, there have been various programs for over 10 years in many local governments across the state and the country. Large businesses tend to to do these things as it becomes a long-term cost-saving exercise, and they have the resourcing and capacity to do it. So educating and enabling small businesses is key, and the RE-lectrify project is poised to do this effectively.

The second reason is that the program is potentially highly replicable across the entire Bellarine Peninsula and the City of Greater Geelong, which excites me the most. We can’t force any of these businesses to implement the findings of their energy assessments. Still, collecting them provides us with incredible data from which we can glean insights that can inform policies, programs and initiatives to better aid their transition towards renewables.

How are CoGG and 100% Clean Bellarine collaborating to deliver this project?

I support the 100% Clean Bellarine team as best I can, training them to conduct the energy assessments and actually hitting the streets with them as they approach business owners. Something which I have done in a past life! 

I’ll undertake a post-project analysis to identify learnings and capture the blueprint for a successful project. I expect that CoGG will continue to work with 100% Clean Bellarine, leveraging its growing capacity to roll out similar projects in other locations across the Bellarine Peninsula.

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