Did you know, during the month of February, Australia's largest sustainability festival takes place? The National Sustainable Living Festival aims to showcase cutting-edge solutions to ecological and social challenges happening across the country. From beach clean ups to urban gardens and the multiple sustainability workshops in between, the festival highlights ways your local community can work together to reduce your carbon footprint and ensure your community thrives and remains liveable for generations to come.
The Public Sector and especially local councils have always played an integral part in supporting and spearheading sustainable initiatives, as part of their mission to serve their local communities. These initiatives can range from investing in renewable energy, to sustainable and ‘green’ urban design and planning projects. In conjunction with the National Sustainable living festival and to celebrate all things sustainability, Public Sector People look at some of the exciting sustainable projects happening across local councils in the coming months:
Queensland’s 100% Solar and Battery Neighbourhoods
Two new Queensland Government-led residential developments in Carseldine and Oxley have committed to featuring zero net energy emission homes in an effort reduce homeowner’s future electricity bills as well as helping the state reach its renewable energy target of 50% by 2030.
In a recent press release, Deputy Premier and Minister for Queensland State Development Steven Miles, has stated that all Carseldine Village Terrace homes and the Oxley Songbird detached residential homes will come with Solar PV, battery storage systems, heat pump hot water systems, Wi-Fi air conditioning and be electric car charger ready.
Furthermore, the Oxley’s Songbird development is a landmark collaboration between the Queensland Government and renowned electric car company Tesla, which will see homeowners have access to a solar PV and Tesla Powerwall package. These packages are significant as they allow for on and off grid capability, which means that in the event of a big storm (a common occurrence during the Queensland summer) or a power-outage in Oxley, these homes will still have power, so they will still be able to use their fridge, lights – even their favourite streaming services.
Not to mention, both these Oxley and Carseldine clean energy initiatives are expected to save homeowners a significant portion off their power bills, as well as helping to create and build sustainable communities.
Mr. Miles has said that developments like this are just the beginning – these developments showcase the use of innovation across different housing markets and demonstrates to other home builders, developers and even urban planners on the renewable energy strategies we can apply to future developments across Queensland.
Western Sydney’s ‘Heat Refuges’
Last Summer, Western Sydney experienced some of the state’s hottest days on record, which had residents seeking solace in their air-conditioned homes. However, this option isn’t feasible in the long run, with many residents being unable to afford having their air-conditioning on 24/7 during heat waves. Not to mention the negative impact the electricity air conditioners use has on the environment.
One of Western Sydney’s most populous local government areas Blacktown, are trying to battle the summer heatwaves through creating ‘heat refuges’- a cool zone with good air-conditioning and facilities where the community can go on an extremely hot day to relax and escape the heat for a few hours. The Blacktown City Council says the project is still in the development phase, but they are currently seeking out potential venues like local churches or community halls that could be used as the first dedicated refuges. However, there is the potential if the response to the heat refuge is favourable, to plan out, design and construct dedicated refuge centres that the local community – especially the more vulnerable- can access during extreme heat.
The aim of this project is two-fold. Firstly, it presents a more affordable option for community members who can’t run their air conditioning 24/7 or who don’t have access to a cool space to use. Secondly, because more community members would be visiting the one refuge centre to escape the heat, less people would be inclined or feel the need to use their home’s air conditioning, which would reduce the overall number of air conditioning units being used across the region. According to the New York Times, nearly 90% of American homes have air-conditioners, which account for about 6% of all of the country’s residential energy use. That level of energy then releases approximately 100 million tons of carbon dioxide each year. While Australia’s population and air-conditioning use isn’t quite at this level, the statistic indicates how significantly air-conditioning use can contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and thus highlight how projects to limit or minimise this use, is a great sustainability practice.
Victoria’s Recycling Infrastructure Investment
As of late January, The Andrews Government in conjunction with The Morrison Government have committed to doubling Victoria’s domestic glass recycling capacity and increasing its plastic recycling by 40% through investing 8.1 million in Victoria’s recycling infrastructure.
Senator for Victoria and Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio announced that the $8.1 million in funding is the first-round funding for seven glass and plastics projects under a joint $46 million recycling infrastructure initiative.
This recycling infrastructure investment will include the creation of a new metropolitan processing plant that’s expected to accept 140,000 tonnes of glass each year, a regional facility to separate glass kerbside co-mingled material, and equipment to produce a new patented system for concrete slab foundations made from 100% recycled plastic. These new infrastructure advancements are expected to contribute to the redirection of 205,000 tonnes of glass and 23,000 tonnes of plastic out of landfill every year. This means that more jars, bottles and fiberglass made of recycled glass and plastic can then be used to build new roads and footpaths throughout Victoria. The human capital needed to manage, oversee and carry out these projects is also expected to create 350 jobs.
Melbourne’s New Protected bike lanes
As part of Melbourne’s COVID Recovery efforts, the City of Melbourne are fast-tracking the delivery of 40 kilometres of kerbside protected bike lanes and pedestrian improvements across the city. These new lanes were originally identified in City of Melbourne’s Transport Strategy 2030 and developed in 2018 and 2019 with the aim to provide a safe and efficient transport alternative that will support physical distancing and help community members move around the city.
The project to deliver the new bike lanes has been split up into two phases- construction has already started on phase one of the project, which aimed to deliver 20 kilometers of protected bike lanes in the central city over a six-month period. Planning and development already started on phase two of the project in December to complete the remaining additional 20 kilometers of bike lanes and help Melbourne achieve it’s goal of becoming Australia’s premiere bicycle city. The project also includes high-quality bicycle parking facilities to ensure maximum convenience for the bike riders of Melbourne.
A Makeover For Parramatta Road
Work has commenced to revitalise one of Sydney’s biggest roads- Paramatta Road. Dubbed the ‘Parramatta Road Urban Amenity Improvement Program’ the initiative is unveiling a number of projects focusing on breathing new life into the area between Camperdown and Auburn.
Many of these projects will focus on building new parks, footpaths, cycle ways and public art to the 20-kilometre corridor, in order to create green, sustainable and welcoming spaces for residents and visitors alike.
Key projects as part of the rejuvenation program have already been unveiled and include a $42 million investment into Canada Bay Council for the development of a world-class sporting recreation and community hub as well as $20 million dedicated to the Inner West Council and $17.8 million dedicated to Cumberland Council. Both these separate funds will contribute to new cycleways, footpaths, trees, shared paths and public art.
In addition to improving Paramatta Road for the thousands of community members who either live or work in the area, the program will also support up to 50,000 new jobs- particularly in construction, planning and urban design.
The above projects are just some of the many that have either already commenced or are in the development phase across Australia. To find out what current projects are associated within local government in your area, and thus what exciting job opportunities they currently have available, why not reach out to our team of consultants who specialise in recruiting for the public sector.
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