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A Recap On Some Of The Great Sustainable Initiatives The Public Sector Are Doing To Celebrate Earth Day!

A Recap On Some Of The Great Sustainable Initiatives The Public Sector Are Doing To Celebrate Earth Day!

4 months ago By Emily Harris
Green Sustainability

Tomorrow is world earth day; one of the biggest global movements that raises awareness on leading environmental issues and the ways society can protect and conserve our earth. Environmental conservation and sustainability play a big role within the public sector, as it impacts so much on local communities and their quality of life. Having access to clean, fresh water, green space to exercise and relax in and even the quality of the air we breathe is all dependent on our environment and the measures we put in place to help preserve and protect it. 

​As part of the Earth Day celebrations this year, President Biden has invited 40 world leaders (including Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison) to a virtual Leaders Summit[1] aimed to underscore the urgency and the economic benefits of stronger climate action (The White House, 2021). While Australia is still yet to achieve its target of a 26-28% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030[2] (Knott, 2021) local councils and organisations within the public sector have been steadily doing their part and have been working on some exciting environmental initiatives – especially over the last year. In celebration of Earth Day, Public Sector People take a closer look at some of the recent projects within local councils across Australia dedicated to preserving our environment and improving the quality of life within their local communities:

Greening Sydney Strategy 2030 

At the end of March, The City of Sydney released a new plan to cover 40% of the city in greenery by 2050; a plan which will focus on new and improved parks, green roofs and walls, streetscape gardening and 700 new street trees planted per year[3] (Reedie, 2021).

Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore has said this latest proposal is a necessary action to help fight the planet’s climate crisis and benefit the quality of life for local residents and visitors to the city.

“Trees remove thousands of tonnes of pollution from our air, store carbon and help mitigate extreme weather, while also relieving stress, depression and anxiety. It is critical that we value everything our broad urban forest and greenery can do for us, and invest heavily in it,” she said in a recent press statement (Reedie, 2021). 

This follows the launch of the research project Better Parks, Healthier for All [4] in June last year where researchers began collaborating with urban planners and policymakers to investigate the mental health and cardiometabolic benefits of green city spaces (Skatssoon, 2020). Meanwhile, a national survey conducted in Canada has revealed that 82% of citizens felt that parks had become more important to their mental health during the pandemic and 55% of cities had said park use had increased[5] (Hoag, 2021). 

Covid-19 was able to highlight the importance green spaces and parks play in urban communities and City of Sydney is acting on this to ensure a greener, calmer and more resilient city. To achieve this, the city’s green make-over will invest $377 into the development and renewal of existing parks and open spaces over the next 10 years. The strategy will also aim to increase canopy cover by 23% by 2030 and increase 40% of vegetation and green cover across the city by 2050. Furthermore, the council are focusing on creating greener, sustainable buildings moving forward and have set a target that all public and privately-owned properties provide 28% of green cover (Hartmann, 2021)[6].

The strategy will also introduce Green Factor Scores3, an urban planning tool that evaluates and quantifies the amount and quality of urban greening a future project provides. To ensure greening is planned for and provided on private land, Green Factor Scores will be implemented into new planning controls moving forward. All projects will need to achieve a required score based on characteristics like the type of development, location and other site considerations. 

This is a considerable long-term investment for City of Sydney Council and an exciting opportunity for urban planners, designers and policymakers within the environmental space to improve the quality of life within their local community.

Sunshine Coast Council’s Automated Waste Collection System

Sunshine Coast Council will be taking a nation-leading position on sustainability when they unveil Australia’s first underground automated general waste collection system, which is currently being installed in the new Maroochydore City Centre. 

Automated underground rubbish systems are already in place across European and Asian cities including London, Singapore, Beijing and Stockholm but this will be the first project of its kind in Australia (Moore, 2021)[7].

The project will include a 6.5km network of underground pipes that will move waste and recyclables from buildings and street bins within the new Maroochydore City Centre to a collection station via vacuum pressure at up to 70kmh. The collected material will then be transferred to disposal or recycling materials[8] (Sunshine Coast Council, 2021).

By incorporating this innovative waste management strategy, the Sunshine Coast Council will be able to remove the need for waste collection trucks to lift wheelie bins, which alone alleviate traffic in the new CBD. The system will also help reduce litter, vermin and street cleaning costs and will be fully sealed to minimise odours. 

Pipe installation for stage one of the project has already been completed and construction of stage two of the project, which includes further pipe installation and the overall project is estimated to be operational by June/July this year (Australian Government, 2021)[9]

In addition to supporting the local community’s environmental and recycling efforts, the system is also supporting the local economy, with the construction of the automated system creating numerous job opportunities and paving the way for future projects being unveiled. 

The managing director of Envac Australia Tony Kutra – the Swedish company that won the contract to build the waste disposal network- has said he has since been in talks with other Australian councils, governments, and developers of larger master-planned communities7(Moore, 2021). Watch this space!

City of Melbourne’s Fast-Tracked Bike Lanes 

Mid-last year The City of Melbourne and the Victorian Government announced their decision to fast-track 40kms of new bicycle paths. The bicycle paths provide numerous benefits to the local Melbourne community, including alleviating congestion on main roads, providing a safer way for cyclists to travel and encouraging patrons to use their bikes as opposed to cars to get around. As of 2018, Transport was the second-largest source of emissions in Australia, producing 18% of the country’s emissions (Climate Council, 2018)[10]. Cars are responsible for almost half of these transport emissions, so providing people a safe and convenient way to cycle rather than drive, will go a long way in reducing Australia’s Greenhouse Gas emissions, not to mention improving the health and wellbeing of individual community members. 

City of Melbourne took this fast-tracked project one step further, however, by being the first council to use recycled glass to create the protected barriers used along the new bike lanes and achieve zero-emission mobility. Approximately 15 to 30 kilograms of glass are going into each barrier, rather than ending up in landfill (City of Melbourne, 2020)[11]. Furthermore, the manufacturing company making these barriers was relocated from China to Geelong in 2016, to support local manufacturing and create local jobs. The City of Melbourne invested $16 million to deliver the first 20 kilometres of fast-tracked bike lanes in the second half of last year, with the remaining 20 kilometres being delivered this year (City of Melbourne, 2020).

The City of Greater Geelong’s innovative & Green Civic Precinct   

The City of Greater Geelong meanwhile, has been experimenting with sustainable materials for their latest building projects. The council started construction on their new civic precinct last year, which will be home to the council’s new centralised administrative offices. However, this precinct is a building with a difference, as it will be made from cross-laminated timber (CLT), which has a lower embodied carbon footprint. Cross-laminated timber is an example of mass engineered timber (MET), an innovative construction alternative to steel and concrete that has been well- established throughout Europe but still relatively new to the Australian market.  

There are multiple benefits for using MET including improved quality control due to the highly precise and automated manufacturing processes involved, while the fact that the material is prefabricated offsite, means it can achieve up to 35% in time savings at the project level (Building & Construction Authority, 2018)[12]. But its biggest advantage is its environmental impact. MET is harvested from sustainably managed forests and a tonne of timber will emit eight times less the amount of carbon than a tonne of concrete, while building costs can be reduced by up to 20% during construction (Building & Construction Authority, 2018).   

The Geelong council wanted the project to be ‘green’ from day one, in order to be leaders within the market on low embodied carbon building and exemplify Geelong’s designation as a UNESCO City of Design[13] (City of Greater Geelong, 2020). 

The project is also a great boost for the local economy as 60% of the business material and inputs will be from local suppliers and businesses throughout the construction phase (which is expected to be completed in mid- 2022) and will consequently create 900 jobs approximately (The Fifth Estate, 2020)[14]

Contact Us 

These are just some of the many sustainably- led projects being unveiled and managed within the public sector across the country, especially within the urban design and planning space. To find out more about the job opportunities within this sector, you can click the link below to contact our designated planning and environment consultants or look at some of the current jobs they have available:

Looking for new opportunities within planning and environment? Click here:

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  [1]The White House. (2021). President Biden Invites 40 World Leaders to Leaders Summit on Climate. Retrieved from: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/03/26/president-biden-invites-40-world-leaders-to-leaders-summit-on-climate/

[2] Knott, Matthew (2021). Australia To Use Biden Summit To Repair ‘Climate Wars’ Damage. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/03/26/president-biden-invites-40-world-leaders-to-leaders-summit-on-climate/

[3] Reedie, Jarrod. (2021) Sydney’s Bold Plan To Go Green Goes Public. Architecture Design. Retrieved from: https://www.architectureanddesign.com.au/news/city-of-sydney-greening-sydney-2030#

[4] Skatssoon, Judy. (2020) $1.5m To Investigate Benefits Of Urban Green Spaces. Government News. Retrieved from: https://www.governmentnews.com.au/1-5m-to-investigate-benefits-of-urban-green-spaces/ 

[5] Hoag, Hannah. (2021). This Is Your Brain On Trees: Why Is Urban Nature So Good For Our Minds, And What Happens When A Pandemic Isolates Us From It? The Globe And Mail. Retrieved from: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-this-is-your-brain-on-trees-why-is-urban-nature-so-good-for-our-minds/

[6] Hartmann, Imogen. (2021). Sydney To Get A Green Makeover. Infrastructure Magazine. Retrieved from: https://infrastructuremagazine.com.au/2021/03/23/sydney-to-get-green-makeover/ 

[7] Moore, Tony. (2021). Plan To Rid Australian City Of Rubbish Trucks Almost Ready To Suck. Brisbane Times. Retrieved from: https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/queensland/plan-to-rid-australian-city-of-rubbish-trucks-almost-ready-to-suck-20210413-p57irq.html 

[8] Sunshine Coast Council. (2021). Automated Waste Collection System. Retrieved from: https://www.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/Council/Planning-and-Projects/Infrastructure-Projects/Automated-Waste-Collection-System 

[9] Australian Government- Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications. (2021). Automated Underground Waste Collection. Retrieved from: https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/cities/smart-cities/collaboration-platform/Underground-waste-collection.aspx

[10] Climate Council. (2018). Australia’s Rising Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Retrieved from: https://www.climatecouncil.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/CC_MVSA0143-Briefing-Paper-Australias-Rising-Emissions_V8-FA_Low-Res_Single-Pages3.pdf

[11] City of Melbourne. (2020). First Fast-Tracked Bike Lanes Installed. Retrieved from: https://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/news-and-media/pages/first-fast-tracked-bike-lanes-installed.aspx 

[12] Building & Construction Authority. (2018). Mass Engineered Timber. Retrieved from: https://www1.bca.gov.sg/buildsg/productivity/design-for-manufacturing-and-assembly-dfma/mass-engineered-timber#:~:text=Mass%20Engineered%20Timber%20(MET)%20is,for%20walls%2C%20floors%20and%20roofs.

[13] City of Greater Geelong. (2020). Mass Engineered Timber and The Civic Precinct. Retrieved from https://geelongaustralia.com.au/civicprecinct/article/item/8d7587c6991110d.aspx 

[14] The Fifth Estate. (2020). Quintessential Equity Backs Geelong As Melbourne’s “Second City” Starts To Roar. Retrieved from: https://thefifthestate.com.au/innovation/building-construction/quintessential-equity-backs-geelong-as-melbournes-second-city-starts-to-roar/ 

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