Green Living Centre

Strategy & business development: green innovation


The Green Living Centre was established in 2002 as ‘The Watershed’ and funded through the NSW Government’s Stormwater Trust Program. Its initial focus was on stormwater and local business environmental issues. Over the years this focus broadened to becoming a sustainability 'hub'.

Currently the Green Living Centre is a shopfront information/workshop/campaign/goods store in King St, Newtown. The total floor space is less than 100m2. Although not large, the advantage of these premises is access to bustling King Street, offering workshops in recycling, gardening, growing and cleaning.

The Task

Inner West Council and City of Sydney Council fund the Green Living Centre's operations and wanted an evaluation report on the Green Living Centre’s work between July 2014 and June 2016. This evaluation was to inform both councils about the centre’s progress, and to enable decisions as to whether to continue, discontinue or adapt the program.  

The proposed evaluation questions were:  

  1. To what extent and how did the Green Living Centre deliver the Programs Plan between June 2014 and June 2016?  
  2. To what extent did it achieve target outcomes?
  3. For whom, in what ways and in what circumstances the outcomes were achieved?  
  4. What were the unintended impacts (positive and negative)?  

The evaluation included a literature search, policy analysis, data analysis, focus groups and one-on-one interviews with staff and key stakeholders, and customer surveys. A 'Results Workshop' was conducted to consider preliminary findings, which were then refined before completing the final evaluation.

The Result

The new vision of the Green Living Centre Programs Plan 2014-2017 was to achieve a 70% reduction in carbon emissions. Modelled emissions for Camperdown, Erskineville, St Peters and Newtown suburbs (the primary focus areas of the GLC) show electricity usage creates 75% of the carbon emissions.

The new vision was a 70% reduction in carbon emissions in a defined geographical area. The path to reaching a 70% reduction was however, and still is, unclear. The vision meant pulling resources from a popular, broad-based sustainability workshop program to focus on electricity reduction. Incremental development of tried and tested programs was replaced by searching for step change innovation to create new programs in a less popular area.

The key intermediate outcomes were to achieve leading practice and innovative approach, leading to increased understanding and implementing solutions. After a slow start, these outcomes now have some traction with the two target groups: residents and businesses.

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