Creating liveable, connected communities
Leichhardt Municipal Council’s population of approximately 58,000 includes Sydney’s inner west: the suburbs of Leichhardt, Lilyfield, Balmain, Birchgrove, Rozelle and Annandale.
Leichhardt focuses on maintaining a liveable and connected community, in which environmental sustainability plays a significant part. Council area residents identify the environment as one of the top priorities.
Awards and achievements – carbon neutral certification
In 2012 Leichhardt won the prestigious Local Sustainability category of the NSW Local Government Excellence in the Environment Awards.
That year the Council also became certified carbon neutral through the Federal Government’s National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS) scheme. This is a scheme with rigorous demands, an achievement for the organisation. At the time Leichhardt was only one of two councils in NSW to achieve NCOS certification.
Mitigating climate change
Leichhardt Council well understands the consequences of climate change for the community, consequences that drove timely, effective actions. The Council’s Climate Change Plan outlines the situation as follows:
The “do nothing” scenario would be more costly than taking strategic timely action. This relates to rising energy costs and a price on carbon, potential damage and disruption to property and infrastructure, and legal liability.
Leichhardt Council should significantly cut carbon emissions by breaking the link between service delivery and increasing energy consumption as part of worldwide efforts to prevent dangerous levels of climate change.
Leichhardt Council should lead and support the community to break the link between improving standards of living, and rising energy consumption and carbon emissions.
Leichhardt Council and the community must adapt to an already changing climate that is likely to see an increase in the frequency and intensity of hazards.
Starting the NCOS process
In 2009 Leichhardt formed a Climate Change Taskforce. The goal: carbon neutrality by 2012. They met their goal and their timeline. Leichhardt chose to engage Pangolin Associates for the technical expertise and Pangolin’s NCOS track record. In short, Pangolin provided background documentation, reports and evidence for the Council’s Climate Change Plan. Pangolin’s work allowed Leichhardt to develop a strategy for net zero emissions and meet NCOS criteria. Pangolin provided the following services:
Greenhouse gas inventories and documentation: Pangolin calculated and documented GHG emissions associated with Leichhardt Council for three separate financial years. Pangolin’s auditors are registered with the Clean Energy Regulator’s National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act (NGER), which is an NCOS – recognised qualification. Pangolin also identified and documented contributing factors from previous Council audits. Impressively, the Council’s list of actions at that time included:
- Energy efficient lighting upgrades,
- HVAC upgrades,
- Solar photovoltaic arrays,
- IT efficiencies,
- Heat pumps,
- Pool covers,
- Electricity cogeneration plant (Leichhardt Park Aquatic Centre – since implemented),
- Bike sharing for staff travel between venues,
- Southern Sydney Regional Organisation for Councils (SSROC) street light upgrade program participation.
Energy and Emissions Management Plan: Undertaking a management plan is an essential part of the carbon neutral certification process. This report provided evidence of greenhouse gas emissions reductions within a Climate Change Plan, and enabled the Council to prioritise.
Staff Travel Survey: Pangolin’s Staff Travel Survey identifies the means of transport to and from a workplace, and subsequent emissions created. This survey helped Leichhardt meet NCOS Scope 3 requirements. Scope 3 refers to greenhouse gas emissions generated as a consequence of the Council’s activities, but not produced specifically by Council facilities.
NCOS steps and timelines:
- August 2012: began NCOS engagement,
- November 2012: completed first NCOS greenhouse gas inventory,
- November 2012: commissioned Energy and Emissions Management Plan,
- May 2013: completed the Energy and Emissions Management Plan,
- November 2013: commissioned second NCOS greenhouse gas inventory,
- April 2014: completed second NCOS inventory,
- June 2014: third NCOS greenhouse gas inventory,
- May 2015: completed third NCOS inventory,
- June 2014: began Staff Travel Survey,
- June 2015: completed survey.
A success story
Energy saved: As a result of energy and greenhouse gas savings initiatives, electricity consumption from Council facilities is approximately 16% lower when compared to the baseline year 2011/12.
Lighting changes: Leichhardt installed motion sensors to reduce overall use of lighting. The Council also replaced inefficient T8 lights with energy saving T5s, and the 50W halogens in the Leichhardt Library with low wattage LED downlights.
Hot water upgrades:
- Leichhart Town Hall: installation of heat pump and solar hot water,
- Leichhardt Children’s Centre: installation of solar hot water,
- Annandale Child Care Centre: installation of heat pump.
Leichhardt Municipal Council has just adopted its Environmental Sustainability Plan 2015 – 2025. The plan takes into consideration a move to 100% renewable energy sources. Other future initiatives include:
- Connecting the cogeneration plant to a refurbished program pool (2016),
- Further sub-metering for improved energy management,
- Solar photovoltaic arrays at the Leichhardt Park Aquatic Centre.
Pangolin Associates was great to work with and helped Leichhardt meet all of the requirements of the NCOS Carbon Neutral Certification program. Their experience was invaluable to us as there were very few examples of carbon neutral councils to reference. Council needed a qualified and experienced consultant to help Council meet its goal of being Carbon Neutral by 2012.
Team Leader Environmental Strategy, Leichhardt Council