The McAuliffe household

The story of a Brisbane Carbon Challenge champion household.







Total emissions reduction: 66%

Original emissions:

14.2 tonnes

Transport: 8.6 tonnes

Energy: 4.8 tonnes

Waste: 0.8 tonnes

Reduced emissions:

4.9 tonnes

Transport: 4.8 tonnes

Energy: 0 tonnes

Waste: 0.1 tonnes

About the household

Brad McAuliffe and his partner, Karina, were keen to join the Brisbane Carbon Challenge to explore how to make their recently purchased house low-carbon and take sustainable actions that suited their active lifestyle. The North-Brisbane couple managed to reduce emissions in all areas – transport, energy and waste – by 66% overall.

Our greatest benefit was more awareness of waste in the household and how to reduce it.

Brad McAuliffe


Reducing organic waste

When Brad and Karina started the Brisbane Carbon Challenge, they weren’t composting any of their food or garden waste. As a result, organic waste made up 60% of all the rubbish in their general waste bin. By the end of the challenge, Brad and Karina weren’t throwing any garden waste in their general waste bin and had reduced their food waste from 40% to just 3%. They employed a variety of tactics to divert organic and food waste from landfill and achieve an impressive 90% reduction in waste emissions. First, they purchased a compost bin for their food scraps and garden trimmings. They also organised a green bin through Brisbane City Council to divert their remaining garden waste from going to landfill.

To reduce their food waste, Brad and Karina followed Council’s Love Food, Hate Waste program and learned strategies to avoid wastage in the first instance. Small things, such as ‘only buying what [they] need for a few days to lessen food waste’ and using food storage bags designed to keep fruit and vegetables fresh helped to reduce their waste. Any leftover fruit and vegetable scraps were then composted and added back to their new garden beds to grow fresh vegetables.

Fully renewable energy solution

Karina and Brad were keen to invest in solutions that would make their new home more sustainable while saving on long-term bills. Early into the challenge, they installed a 6.6kW solar system to cover their daytime energy needs. They weren’t yet ready to purchase a battery for their night-time energy needs but still wanted to use renewable energy for all hours of the day. So they found a simple solution to achieve zero energy emissions by purchasing GreenPower from their energy retailer for the electricity they consumed from the grid


Shifting transport habits as life circumstances change

Brad and Karina are an active couple and enjoy cycling as a hobby. Brad was keen to explore how he could bring cycling into his daily commute. However, it didn’t work with his shifts, as he felt uncomfortable riding late at night. Instead, they focused on shifting some of their weekend habits where they would cycle to the shops or to catch-ups with friends.

Transport habits often go hand in hand with work commutes, and Brad and Karina’s work situations changed during the challenge. Karina started working from home indefinitely, which significantly reduced her vehicle and public transport use. Brad’s new job also meant he had different transport requirements.

With the changes in their daily commutes and increased cycling, Brad and Karina reduced their transport emissions by 44%.

Brad and Karina’s low carbon action plan:

  • purchased 100% renewable energy (GreenPower)
  • installed a solar power system
  • replaced private vehicle use with active travel
  • replaced private vehicle use with public transport
  • reduced private vehicle use
  • adopted eco-driving techniques
  • installed draught-sealing on doors
  • used fans instead of the air conditioner
  • switched off lighting when not in use
  • upgraded lights to LED
  • switched off appliances at the wall when not in use
  • reduced food waste
  • composted food and garden waste
  • used green bin service for garden waste
  • recycled waste paper and cardboard.

Want to take the challenge and lower your carbon emissions? Start taking small steps today.

Search page