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Sustainability projects to improve our carbon footprint

Sustainability projects to improve our carbon footprint
Tahbilk's environmental journey started back in 1995 when we made a decision to actively conserve the Tahbilk Wetlands and the areas that surround our vineyards. ⁠In 2013 we achieved our Carbon Neutral accreditation from Toitū Envirocare. We have managed to uphold our accreditation for a growing business, and in 2021 we picked up the Toitū Brighter Future Award for Climate Action (international product footprint) and was a finalist for the 2021Toitū Brighter Future Award for Climate Action (international organisation).

⁠Looking to the future, the goal is to one day see the entire Tahbilk Group going ‘Naturally Balanced’ Carbon Neutral, capturing all the carbon we emit ourselves. 

Carbon capture occurs through a process called sequestration, where our trees and soils take carbon in and lock it away. To maximize our sequestration, we are planning a huge amount of revegetation projects.

So far we've e re-vegetated over 160ha of land restoring the natural balance and attracting many different beneficial insects, birds and wildlife. Through carbon sequestration, we've managed to reduce our emissions by 45% across the organisation. We purchase 3% of carbon credits on the open market, making us very close to becoming 'Naturally Balanced' Carbon Neutral.
 
To get to our goal we have two aims:

1) To increase the amount of carbon we can capture
2) To reduce the emissions we put into the atmosphere

 

- Carbon capturing Projects -

 
 

The 2020-2030 Revegetation Plan

In 2020 a detailed revegetation plan was created to identify the next 10 years of plantings. All in all it includes 100ha segmented into revegetation areas (pink), wildlife corridors (blue) and insectariums (yellow).
The revegetation areas will be a diverse planting of species focused on ecological outcomes, while maximizing our sequestration. The wildlife corridors will be a similar mix and planted to link up the new and existing revegetation areas. 

The Insectarium

The insectariums are a hand-picked selection of species that have beautiful flowers which attract a wide range of beneficial insects close to the vineyard to help with pest and disease control.

One particular pest is the light brown apple moth (LBAM).

The Insectariums have white and yellow flowering plants to attract the Trichogramma wasp and the brown lacewing, both predators of the LBAM. These predators will eat the LBAM at the larval stage of the moth’s lifecycle. While we haven’t completed any bug counts as yet we hope the Insectarium will reduce this pest risk so we can apply fewer or no chemicals.

 

Seed Collecting

The Euroa Seedbank, Euroa Arboretum, and working groups have been on-site collecting seed from all over the property.
Tahbilk has three designated seed bank areas where large numbers of the same species were planted so that their combined gene pool is enormous and can be spread across the whole local area when it is planted. This is important because genetic diversity is the key to life. Every plant has its own set of genes that make it the individual plant that it is, and these genes have strengths and weaknesses in different circumstances. For example, two of the same trees growing next to each other, one may love hot weather while the other may struggle, due to their genes. So if you take the seed from a large number of plants and mix it all together, when you plant some of this seed you will have a diverse set of genetics. So as the climate changes, some will die, while others will adapt and survive. If you only grew trees from the seed of one plant, if the conditions changed, you could have the whole plantation could die because their genetics were too similar and didn’t have the necessary adaptations to survive. This is a simplistic explanation but the rule is true in all living beings. Diversity builds resilience.
The species in our seedbanks include Hardenbergia, Indigofera, River Bottle Brush and in the near future may include Lightwood, Bursaria and Banksia trees.
We also have many of the revegetation areas producing enormous amounts of seed of many acacia and eucalypt species. 

 

Restaurant Worm Farm

In order to deal with some of the food waste from the restaurant, a worm farm has been set up to turn this unused produce into highly valuable products. Given that Tahbilk is a bit larger than your typical house, and the ‘kitchen and garden’ also a bit larger, we have made a worm farm here that is…… a bit larger. In fact, it’s supersized. We have converted a 1000L, cubic meter shuttle into the ultimate worm mansion. The restaurant staff help out by providing one garbage bin of the right foods per week, and the worms do the rest. Also in the mix is some horse manure from Yulong , some of our own compost, and many many worms sourced locally. As these products mature over a few months we’ll begin to develop strategies and trials to test its benefits on the vineyard. This experiment has cost $0 but will hopefully be able to provide huge benefits to our soils and vines.

 

- Emission reduction Projects - 

 

Heat Reflective Paint

Due to the design of Wetlands View Restaurant, we used to have a lot of issues with the venue overheating in summer. To the point where we needed to run all air conditioners overnight just to keep the place cool for patrons in the morning. The electricity use was not acceptable, nor was the unbearable heat.

In February 2012 we painted the roof with heat reflective paint with Mike Bailey Paints. Since applying the paint, the Restaurant has become a far more pleasant experience in summer and we have significantly reduced our air conditioner use.

So, next time you are near the Restaurant make sure you look up.

 

Refrigeration Plant Improvement

Through our participation with Smarter Resources Smarter Business program with Sustainability Victoria. As part of this program, we implemented variable speed drives (VSDs) and pressure transducers on three condenser cooling water pumps and on a cooling fan tower. A VSD is a piece of equipment that regulates the speed and rotational force of an electric motor. Implementing the VSD saves energy consumption because it will change the speed of an electrical motor by controlling the power that is fed into the machine. It is estimated the introduction of the VSDs will reduce our annual energy consumption by 2000 kWh per year.