By Luke Reade
My name is Luke Reade and I’ve worked in the climate and energy space for around 25 years. I studied Environmental Science in Australia, and worked in Ireland and the UK on climate change, transport and offshore renewables and their environmental impacts, and then back home to Australia working with local governments on behaviour change, energy and climate action. This journey has involved improving my own energy literacy. I’m passionate about improving everyone’s energy literacy, but the system needs to be fairer to ensure the responsibility doesn’t fall into the hands of consumers.
I started Energetic Communities around 2012 as a sole trader, and we incorporated as a community association in 2015. I started out working with schools and not for profits on emission reductions and energy efficiency audits and upgrades while establishing a community owned solar project. With a few colleagues, we have since pivoted Energetic Communities to do more systemic change for renters, and households at risk. Currently Energetic Communities is working on a project funded by Energy Consumers Australia to advocate for Energy Efficiency Minimum Standards for rental homes in Queensland, where I am based.
There is no legislation in Queensland requiring that rental homes have ceiling insulation or ceiling fans, so rental houses can reach unlivable temperatures. This is not only in summer, but also in winter – since most houses here were built to be drafty. Believe or not, Brisbane actually has more deaths from hypothermia than in the southern states! The Queensand legislation includes the ability of the Minister to add energy efficiency regulations, but for some reason stops there? This leaves renters living in often sub-standard homes and almost no agency to do anything about it!
To really understand the plight of renters, we have been collecting stories from Queensland renters through our renter survey about their experiences and we’ve heard shocking things, like elderly people passing out in their rental homes due to the heat. The survey is still open for anyone who is in Queensland or who has friends up our way.
Through Energetic Communities, I am also part of a coalition in Queensland called Power Together that looks at low income households and energy justice more broadly. We are also connected on a national level to Healthy Homes for Renters, a national coalition, that organisations in any state can connect to if they want to find out more about advocating for better energy efficiency for rentals.
I joined Co-Power for my home and Energetic Communities’ as I’m an advocate of cooperatives, and businesses by and for the community. Energetic Communities has recently joined Co-Power’s Energy Efficiency Action Group, as Co-Power is a shining light amongst retailers, who have an important role to play in really supporting households at risk. Retailers really need to change the way they operate to ensure all households benefit from the transition, including affordable energy and access to low emission technologies.