Georges River Council is at the forefront of climate action, committed to reducing energy consumption across all of its operations.
This case study covers the Council’s ambitious climate targets, how they plan to get there and what the economic, social and environmental benefits will be.
In 2019, Council set targets to achieve net zero carbon and 100% renewable energy by 2025, within its own operations.
However, with a growing population and rising demand on energy usage, something had to change to make these goals a reality.
That’s why Georges River Council introduced the Energy and Water Management Plan 2018-2022 (EWMP) with a commitment to reducing energy consumption and emissions at its 10 highest energy-using sites.
How Georges River Council will get to net zero emissions by 2025
Council’s 2025 targets only leave 6 years from target launch to project completion.
So far, Council has completed more than 60% of the renewable energy and energy efficiency measures outlined in the EWMP, including:
- Fine-tuning Council’s Building Management System to optimise heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems performance
- Replacing fluorescent fittings with LEDs
- Reviewing the car park ventilation control
- Installing variable speed drives on the main chilled water pump/condenser
- Controlling the air conditioning flow through CO2 sensors
- Launched a Revolving Energy Fund, to fund future energy efficiency projects
- Replaced eligible LED streetlights through the Ausgrid “Accelerated replacement LED Program” in 2020
- Purchased 20% of its electricity from the Moree Solar farm
- Participated in the SSROC electricity procurement project to dramatically increase the percentage of renewable energy sourced for a new contract starting July 2022
- Installed solar panels on 9 additional Council buildings since 2019 adding 171kW for a total capacity of 272.95 kW
- Formed a Fleet Working Group to manage the transition to an electric passenger fleet
- In 2021 approved any lease-back vehicles or replacement passenger vehicles be hybrid vehicles (or EV) only
- Completed three staff behaviour change program initiatives
- Developed a clause in the draft LEP 2021 which encourages best practice sustainable design principles in new developments
In addition, following the completion of a major community communications project, the community is now actively involved in determining Council’s Environmental vision, targets and strategies.
Benefits of taking action to get to net zero emissions
Georges River Council’s baseline emissions were calculated for the financial year 2016/2017 at 12,851 tonnes Co2-e. In the financial year 2020/2021, Council’s emissions were just 8,191 tonnes Co2-e. A 36% reduction in emissions!
The EWMP has led to major benefits to renewable energy generation too, with new solar installations generating approximately 266,994kWh a year, or enough to power 23 homes. With an expected life span of 25 years, these installations will produce approximately 6,797,700kWh over the life of the project, or enough to power 580 homes.
Public facilities like Childcare Centres have also had improvements including new solar installations and energy efficiency upgrades. Council uses this as an opportunity to educate the children through a program rolled out by sustainability representatives.
The ‘mighty kid’ system sees two children each day wearing a ‘mighty kid’ lanyard, and who are responsible for checking the UV rating, turning off the lights and keeping teachers and their peers accountable.
To date, nine additional solar systems have saved approximately $32,099.
From April 2020 to June 2021 the streetlight upgrade saved $151,631.93 which will fund additional upgrades.
Savings from electric vehicles are estimated at $2,500 a year and returned to the “Sustainable Fleet Reserve” to fund additional purchases.
Any financial savings made through efficiencies extends Council’s operational budget to implement more projects and programs for the community.
The Environmental Resilience Strategy is currently in draft to plan next steps toward Council’s targets of net zero carbon and 100% renewable energy by 2025, however to date a large body of work has already been completed against these goals.
Georges River Council was a winner in the Energy Efficiency category in the Cities Power Partnership Climate Awards 2021.
For more information about this project or other case studies on our website, please contact us at [email protected].