Adventure Alternatives has purposely built an Outdoor Education Centre on strong, environmental sustainability principles. It is based on the three key Permaculture principles:

Care for the Environment,

Care for People and

Fair Share.

Each principle, when combined with the next, has allowed the business to develop a centre which is easy to mange, beautiful aesthetically and provides a sense of place for all. The design and layout of the centre uses the principle of minimal environmental impact: no trees removed, solar orientation, use of recycled materials and low embodied energy of labour, machinery and resources, function and form with the secondary function to educate participants of viable environmentally sensitive alternatives.

Water-saving & Energy-saving toilet Block

The toilet and shower block utilises 7 dual flush toilets, 3 waterless urinals, low flow spring tap hand basins all fed by rainwater and bore water which is gravity feed to the block to negate the use of a pump and electricity. The 8 showers use canvas shower bags, which ensure only 9 litres of water, is used per shower. Hot water is provided by a wood-fired boiler which uses fallen timber from the property to heat water and educate participants about convection currents, water conservation and the value of timber for energy production.

Solar Orientated Kitchen & Dining Hall

The Kitchen and Dining Hall is orientated due north to maximise the solar aspect to heat the concrete floor and keep participants warm in the morning and night. Only the kitchen is enclosed with the dining open on all walls to make use of all breezes. With the exception of gas for cooking, all electricity to the centre is supplied by three-kilowatt solar electric panels, which are mounted on the office so that participants can see them and view the monitors recording electricity generation.

Recycled

Nine eco cabins have been constructed of recycled hardwood decking floors and second hand vinyl billboards used for wall panelling and a skillion roof to capture sunlight and breezes.

All water used throughout the centre is rainwater, which is collected from every available roof area, with a bore for backup during dry seasons. Once used, all water is treated on site in a sand filter and evaporative irrigation system.

All food is sourced from local suppliers to ensure the food we obtain has the lowest food miles and to support local businesses within the small Woodford Community.

Protected Vegetation

All major gully lines on the property have been fenced (totalling 800m) to exclude cattle and protect sensitive riparian vegetation and provide creek bank stability. Fencing has also been installed to protect a 30-acre conservation area at the rear of the property. A Voluntary Conservation Agreement has been signed over the 30 acres to protect the significant flora and fauna values that will remain in perpetuity.
Carbon Neutral

Carbon Calculator

Adventure Alternatives has developed its own Carbon Calculator to get a better understanding of the businesses carbon use during program, including transportation of staff cars, students on buses, carbon to produce meat and grown vegetables, source dairy-based products and rubbish removal through to carbon burnt during a camp fire. The system is able to give a clear outcome to the number of trees needed to be planted during program to offset the programs carbon use. Whilst on program, students plant trees and remove weeds to give them first hand experience of repaying their environment debt for their impact.

Sustainability Activities

Participants can learn about the environment while they utilise these facilities as well as undertake in a variety of purpose-designed environmental programs. These include:

Permaculture garden

Permaculture design principles in the 30x15m Permaculture garden, trellised fruit trees, pigs, chicken/duck, cattle and sheep, Aquaponics system (fish production and hydroponic veges);

Planting of native plants to offset carbon emissions created travelling to and from the centre by participants;

Recycling and separation of rubbish generated from the kitchen during program. The use of organic material to feed several large worm farms and the learning the value of worms, cycling of nutrients and use of worm castings in the Permaculture garden to fertilise plants.

Worm Farm

Environmental interpretive signage for each sustainable element to teach participants about what is and why we have incorporated specific aspects to allow participants to take this knowledge and practice home with them.

Positive outcomes from these initiatives

All water is captured, used and treated on site allowing Adventure Alternatives to remain off the grid with regards to water and sewage.

All electricity used by the centre is sourced from solar power generated on-site reducing Adventure Alternatives’ dependence on fossil-fuel generated power, while saving up to 500,000 litre of water per year used at a power station.

All organic matter generated on site is fed to the pigs and chickens or recycled in the worm farm and later used in the Permaculture garden allowing the business to reduce the amount of waste material which is not put into waste facilities.

11 nesting boxes for birds, bats and mammals have been made and installed around the property to help bring wildlife closer to the centre and be observed by participants who may not normally see this wildlife.

30 acres has been managed to allow natural regeneration of native vegetation communities as part of the Voluntary Conservation Agreement area. This will protect the land in perpetuity to ensure the significant flora, fauna and the natural assets of the catchment remain forever.

5000 trees have been planted on the property since 2007, creating natural vegetated corridors linking key core habitat areas.

Every program run by Adventure Alternatives has a specific environmental focus to demonstrate to participants how we are all responsible for the current state of the environment and what we can do to fix or reduce the dependence on unsustainable resources.

REAL GREEN CREDENTIALS

The actions undertaken by Adventure Alternatives have benefited the organisation by having the smallest Carbon footprint possible. Through numerous small, yet specific, strategic decisions Adventure Alternatives has been able to build and establish a business which is gentle on the environment and is able to educate participants in both a subtle and up-front way to encapsulate the essence of green living. Adventure Alternatives is a real life example of what an organisation can do to not just be green but also run and operate a successful business with solid and tangible green credentials.

Achievement

Through these achievements Adventure Alternatives has been able to educate participants with real life examples of what they can do to reduce their dependence on unsustainable resources. The permaculture garden has been based on the available space of a normal house yard to demonstrate the ease of supplementing the food consumed by a family with their own produce. The fruit trees have been trellised to reduce the amount of area needed and to increase production. Garden beds have been constructed in a conventional, semi-raised rectangle making the transference of knowledge easier and more tangible for people who like formal gardens in a city environment. The aquaponics system also clearly shows participants how, in a small 4m by 8m space, they can grow ample fresh organic fruit, vegetables and fish to support a small family and help reduce their dependence on supermarkets in a space as big as their back pergola. These systems give participants a sense of connection with and understanding of these natural systems.

By allowing participants to plant trees and remove weeds during program, Adventure Alternatives helps to reduce the carbon footprint whilst also revegetating denuded or marginal land along creek lines, fences lines and natural areas around the property. This simple process allows participants to leave an environmental legacy of their visit to Adventure Alternatives.