Globally, with over half of the world’s population now urbanised, cities are where big emissions reductions can
be achieved. In Australia, this is even higher, at over 75 per cent.
Sydney is Australia’s global and largest city. The City of Sydney (the “City”) is the local government authority for the city centre and surrounding neighbourhoods which includes the whole or part of 33 suburbs.
Over the past ten years, the City has achieved significant outcomes towards its objective of environmental sustainability in its local government area.
In 2007, the City’s operations became carbon neutral and in 2011 it was the first government in Australia certified as carbon neutral under the National Carbon Offset Standard.
The approach taken by the City has been based on ethical leadership and extensive, active engagement with its diverse community to develop a robust strategy, informed by research and the best possible technical advice.
This strategy – Sustainable Sydney 2030 (“SS2030”) – has guided the City for ten years, harnessing the local community’s aspirations for individual, corporate and governmental action on climate change.
Energy efficiency, a cost-effective and technologically mature source of emission abatement, is key for the City to meet its target to reduce carbon emissions by 70 per cent by 2030. This recognises that any gains in energy efficiency improvements will reduce the amount of clean energy required to meet the City’s targets for local energy generation.
The incremental realisation of its energy efficiency efforts are exemplified by two City initiatives: the Better Buildings Partnership and the LED (light-emitting diode) lighting project.
The Better Buildings Partnership is a group of Sydney’s leading public, private and institutional landlords, led by the City, who are working together
to make buildings more sustainable. The partnership represents over half the office floor space across the city centre.
This group is demonstrating how effective new models of collective action can be to unlock complex barriers around change. Under the barrier of ‘moving industry forward together’, the partnership has worked with industry professionals to create and embed best practice standards in leasing, operational waste, refurbishment waste, solar installations, and optimising water use.
Members have improved the overall sustainability performance of their buildings with measures such as building system upgrades and green infrastructure, including recycled water networks.
The partnership has proven that sustainability makes economic sense. Its members have saved $33 million in electricity costs each year and reduced their emissions by 52 per cent since 2006 – over halfway to its target of a 70
The City’s LED lighting project involved the installation of LED street lights as part of a $7 million project, replacing 6,150 City-owned street and park lights. This project has resulted in reduced energy use of more than
48 per cent per year since March 2012, reducing emissions by 40 per cent and saving nearly $800,000 each year in electricity and maintenance costs.
In August 2018, the City agreed to fund the local electricity distributor, Ausgrid, to fast track replacement of the remaining 9,500 street lights it owns. Upon completion, this project will save over $1 million in energy and maintenance costs, and 3,500 tonnes of carbon emissions each year.
As well, the City is investing $750,000 with Ausgrid towards energy efficiency and solar projects that permanently reduce energy use.
Along with these initiatives, the City is working with hotels, museums, tourist icons (including the Sydney Opera House), small to medium sized businesses, the mid-tier office sector, the accommodation and entertainment sector and local residents to future proof the city by improving energy efficiency and reducing emissions, resulting in major cost reductions. Lord Mayor Clover Moore is the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Australia.
By CLOVER MOORE , the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Australia