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Air and Climate Change

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This theme reports on Council’s response to climate change and air quality.

BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT

Air

Local air quality is influenced by weather and regional events such as bushfires. Localised threats to our air quality include exhaust from vehicles and wood smoke from fireplaces and solid fuel heaters in the Leichhardt LGA.

In a highly urbanised area, such as Leichhardt, there is limited scope for Council to reduce some sources of air pollution, as control of these emissions lies outside of the scope of Council’s influence. Public transport is controlled by the State Government and most of the traffic on the three main arterial roads that traverse Leichhardt (Parramatta Road, Victoria Road and the City West Link) comes from outside the LGA boundaries. The Council however does work with state government agencies and neighbouring councils to ensure that new policy and infrastructure decisions seek to minimise these impacts on local residents and works to make it easier for people to use active transport via cycleways and pedestrian links as a way of reducing pollution from vehicles.

Climate Change

Leichhardt Council has been considering and responding to climate change for many years because the best science (source: IPCC) tells us that the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere from human activities is contributing to global warming and climate change.

There are several observations that show the earth's climate system is warming. These include increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level. Recent natural disasters both domestically and internationally serve as lessons about the economic, social and environmental costs of natural hazards should they increase in severity or frequency, as is forecast, with climate change.

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IMPLEMENTATION

During 2012/13 Council became the second in NSW to achieve carbon neutrality under the National Carbon Offsets Standard Carbon Neutral Program. Council also adopted its Climate Change Plan in May 2013.

Council implemented a number of major initiatives such as the replacement of inefficient air conditioning at the Council Administration Centre, lighting upgrades, and a Cogeneration System at Leichhardt Park Aquatic Centre for pool heating, estimated to save 1,270 tonnes of Greenhouse Gases annually. Work also began on a Renewable Energy Master Plan in partnership with SSROC, University of Technology Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF) and seven other SSROC Councils.

Leichhardt Carbon Neutral

In 2009, Leichhardt Council formed a Climate Change Taskforce (CCTF) to investigate the policies and actions required for the Council to become carbon neutral by 2012. Carbon neutrality refers to when the net carbon emissions associated with an organisation are equal to zero through the acquisition and cancellation of carbon offsets that meet stringent criteria.

Council has signed up to the National Carbon Offsets Standard Carbon Neutral Program established by the Federal government to provide certification of carbon neutral organisations and products. Council became Carbon Neutral on 1 July 2012 and achieved carbon neutral certification for the 2012/13 financial year in July 2013. The steps required to achieve carbon neutral certification are shown in Figure 6 below.

Energy efficiency upgrades

Operational Initiatives:
Projects included light switch labelling, time clock controls to kitchen boiling water units and after-hours energy consumption investigations which addressed problems with air conditioning.

Electrical Efficiency Initiatives:
Projects included installation of occupancy sensors, lighting replacements and daylight sensors.

Heating, Ventilation and Cooling System (HVAC) Upgrades:
Replacement of air conditioning units at the Council Administration Centre (level 1 complete and ground floor upgrade started).

Leichhardt Park Aquatic Centre Cogeneration (LPAC)

lpac-cogeneration-soeIn 2011/12, LPAC was contributing around 40% of greenhouse gas emissions created by the use of electricity at Council-managed facilities. This was mostly from heating the pools year round using electricity. In 2012/13, Leichhardt Council replaced LPAC’s existing electrically-driven heat pumps with a gas cogeneration system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 1270 tonnes of CO2-e per annum.

Renewable Energy Master Plan

The Renewable Energy Master Plan, a partnership with eight SSROC councils, is presented within the Leichhardt Climate Change Plan as a high priority action. Work commenced on this strategic initiative, with consultants from the Institute of Sustainable Futures (ISF) at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). The Master Planning process will:

  • Identify the most cost-effective and practicable actions to increase the proportion of energy consumed in the region that is derived from renewable sources.
  • Identify business models and financing options.
  • Identify barriers to implementation and methods to overcome those barriers.
  • Identify next steps to enable our region to shift towards renewable energy, including quick wins and advocacy opportunities.
Treading Lightly Program

treading-lightly-soeTreading Lightly is an adult education program that delivers a range of free events and workshops to the community. This is a joint initiative of Leichhardt, Ashfield, Canada Bay, and Burwood Councils. The partnership aims to deliver a broad calendar of sustainability events and learning opportunities for the community.

Sustainability and climate change-related education workshops in 2012/13 included Smart Blocks Energy Efficiency for Units, Bicycle Skills Training, Energy Efficiency in the Home, Bushcare and Biodiversity, Growing Food in Small Spaces, Bike Maintenance and Care, Composting and Worm-farming.

Environmental Grants Program

The Leichhardt Community Environmental Grants Program provides grants of up to $5,000 for projects that benefit the local community through environmental improvement, education and awareness-raising. The grants program helps empower the community to take action on Climate Change and other sustainability issues. A separate category is enabling communities to set up Community Gardens by providing up to $10,000 seed-funding for new gardens.

Projects funded in 2012-2013 were:

  • Annandale North Out-of-School Hours Care Association
    Project: Children's Edible Permaculture Garden
  • Balmain Glass House, Balmain Town Hall Committee
    Project: Plant propagation program and education program for Balmain Glasshouse
  • Glovers Garden
    Project: Food for Everyone: Workshops and information sessions about growing food organically developed and implemented by Glovers Street Gardens Volunteers.
  • Permaculture Sydney South
    Project: Water Tank for the Community Garden - 1A Marion Street Leichhardt
Footprints EcoFestival

The annual Footprints EcoFestival, held at Whites Creek Valley Park in August 2012, is a free community event hosted by Leichhardt Council to promote sustainable living, featuring a live music program, film festival, clothing swap, eco-friendly workshops, wetland tours, market stalls, fresh food, attended by over 2000 adults and children.

Sustainability & Climate Change Forums

food-forum-soeThe objective of the Leichhardt Sustainability and Climate Change Forums are to inspire and provide community members with a deeper understanding of topic areas associated with climate change and sustainability in an engaging and entertaining way.

The 2012/13 “Food for the Future: sustainable food in urban areas” forum was presented by four inspirational speakers. Professor John Crawford from the University of Sydney set the scene with a comprehensive global overview to the problem of food security. Jon Dee, co-founder of Planet Ark and Do Something!, described the problem of food waste in Australia. Youth Food Movement co-founders, Alexandra Iljadica and Joanna Baker, explained how young people can learn from the older generation, bringing importance back to knowing where food comes from. Jane Mowbray from Glover’s Community Garden gave an enthusiastic presentation about the social, environmental and economic benefits of community gardening.

The event was catered for by the Veggie Patch Van and attended by over 60 people who provided overwhelmingly positive feedback. The forum provided the community the chance to learn about food security and hear about small and large scale sustainable food projects.

Big Bike Day

big-bike-day-soeCouncil hosts the annual Big Bike Day in September to promote and encourage bike riding and active transport to the local community. The Big Bike Day has been a fixture on the Leichhardt events calendar for over 10 years and brings amateur cyclists, keen cyclists and families together for a fun 6.2 km ride around the streets of Leichhardt.

Leichhardt SMART Business Program

Leichhardt SMART stands for “Saving Money and Resources Together” and is open to businesses in the Leichhardt local government area. SMART is aimed at assisting businesses to save money and improve their environmental performance by reducing water, energy, waste and operating costs. In the 2012/13 year, SMART enabled approximately 715,000 L of water savings, approximately 5500 kWh of electricity savings and the diversion of almost 122 cubic metres of waste from landfill per year, with potential financial savings of almost $15,000.00 per year for participating businesses.