Goldfields Libraries: Sustainable House Kits in high demand

Sep 18, 2023 | projects, sustainability

On formulating a new Strategic Plan for 2021-2025, Goldfields Libraries undertook extensive community consultation to ensure that our priorities aligned with the needs and aspirations of the individuals and communities of our region. This consultation crystallised our desire to put the individual at the heart of what we do, and to prioritise what mattered most to them. Based on feedback, our priorities shifted from what we offer (collections, technology, programs etc.) to broader themes: Respecting First Nations Peoples and Cultures, Children and Young People, A Sustainable Future, and Safety and Inclusion for instance.

With A Sustainable Future now one of the organisation’s eight pillars – we have seen a steady rise in sustainability-related programming and collections and in corresponding attendance and usage. Many of our branches now also include seed libraries, community garden beds, and recycling collection points as part of their service offering.

At the start of 2022 we introduced four Sustainable House Kits into our collection. Valued at approximately $1,100 each, the kits contain:

  • a thermal imaging camera
  • thermometer
  • powermate to measure electricity usage of appliances
  • and a copy of the Energy Freedom Home book.
Sustainable House Kit demonstration at Bendigo Library

These Sustainable House Kits have proved to be of huge interest to our communities. To date they’ve attracted 157 loans and a long reservation list – 134 reservations at last count. Given the demand, this year we’ve expanded the number of kits in our collection from 4 to 17!

The loan period for the kits was initially set at two weeks but this was recently reduced to a one-week loan period to better manage demand. We have also briefed staff on systems to reduce wait-times between loans, and purchased additional copies of the Energy Freedom Home book, to give patrons the opportunity to read the book in advance of borrowing the kit to speed up access.

Feedback has ranged from general excitement to actual evidence of patrons using these kits to improve their living environments and reduce power consumption such as switching off standby appliances, purchasing a new fridge, reducing heat leakages, and installing thicker curtains. One borrower used the kits to assist with creating micro-climates in the garden…and even used the thermal imaging camera on the sleeping chooks at night!

  • ‘We have created an action list of things to tackle from small (draught proofing) to large (installing solar).’
  • ‘We now have a list of things we need to do to be more energy efficient. Some are quick fixes (eg. draft stoppers and closing curtains) and others will take us longer.’ 
  • ‘I was mainly interested in saving money/energy, so it was great to learn where the gaps were in my house and which appliances cost the most. I took photos of the PowerMate screen next to my appliances so I can refer to these later.’ 
  • ‘Highlighted where insulation was missing in the roof – we will add extra insulation and fix up installation problems. Temperature differences in surfaces has prompted us to fit a blind to the window.’
thermal image sleeping chickens showing temperature difference in different parts of their bodies and heads
Thermal camera image of sleeping chickens. Leaf, Root & Fruit.

The Sustainable House Kits collection was made possible from funding from the City of Greater Bendigo, Macedon Ranges Shire Council and Mount Alexander Shire Council. We thank them for their support and look forward to seeing more borrowers making improvements to homes across the region as a result!

By Gemma Rayner,  Manager Engagement and Operations, Goldfields Library Corporation.


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