“We’re already one of the world’s most livable cities, our challenge now is to ensure we are one of the world’s most sustainable cities,” says Melbourne’s Environment Portfolio Chair Councillor Arron Wood. Last week, the City of Melbourne announced that it has been certified a carbon-neutral city by Low Carbon Australia using the National Carbon Offset Standard. This certification is part of Melbourne’s long-term target towards net zero emissions by 2020.
The flagship project of Melbourne’s sustainability efforts is the new Council House 2 (CH2) city government building, which boasts leading edge green building technologies. It has a cogeneration plant that generates 30% of its total power demand and where the waste heat is used to power the air-conditioning. The building is fitted with a small 35 kW solar photovoltaic array and the elevators generate electricity while braking. It’s equipped with solar water heaters and conserves water through sewer-mining, reuse of sprinkler test water, and rainwater harvesting. And the western façade of the building features recycled wood shading devices that close with varying speeds during the summer and winter to keep the heat out and let natural daylight in.
On the public front, the city is helping commercial building owners to upgrade their buildings with energy efficient measures through the 1,200 Buildings program and providing funds for this through Environmental Upgrade Agreements. The city has also installed stormwater tanks and improved the irrigation systems in their parks. And it is supporting sustainable transportation by extending its bicycle network through the Cycle Melbourne initiative and encouraging its residents to walk and use public transportation. In addition to significant carbon reductions in its operations, Melbourne has also offset emissions through NCOS, Australia’s voluntary carbon offset initiative to get its carbon-neutral certification.
To achieve its 2020 target of net zero emissions, the city is looking to reduce emissions even further in four major areas. They aim to reduce emissions by 25% in the commercial sector, by 20% in the residential sector, and 19% in the energy sector. In the transportation sector, Melbourne is hoping to reduce emissions by 20% with public transportation, by 15% with automobiles, increase bicycle use by 100%.
“Global leading cities like City of Melbourne are responsible for an extraordinary range of economic activities and services and are critical to our move to a low carbon future,” says Low Carbon Australia’s CEO Meg McDonald. “Quantifying the carbon footprint of such an organization and reducing carbon emissions is a mammoth task, but one that can have substantial benefits for the environment, the city and for ratepayers. Councils taking this type of leadership position are important in showing the way in their communities for a prosperous low-carbon future.”
Via Clean Technica