Clover Moore

By Tina Perinotto

31 August 2012 – Comment: The best news Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore has enjoyed in the run up to local council elections on Saturday were revelations last week that lined up the Labor Party candidate trying to depose her with a rabid anti-Labor, anti-carbon tax lobby, including shock jock Alan Jones.

Moore has staked her political career in recent years on green and broader sustainability issues such as community engagement. And she’s done it with passion and verve. The kind of strong visible action that ends up being catchy and creates a multiplier effect.

Riding to work on bike paths will do that.

So will creating a plan for trigeneration and a lower carbon profile for the city.

Yes, there are some issues that need to be resolved with tri-gen, as with any new high tech building or machine that needs to be properly commissioned. And perhaps the property industry has some legitimate concerns that need to be ironed out. (See our recent reports on this) But that’s the nature of progress: it’s a bumpy line on the upward trending graph.

Yes there are other more than worthy candidates for the job, with great track records in community politics and even green politics who promise good works.

  • See a local newspaper report on a recent forum where Moore came under attack – again – for liberalising the alcohol laws and somehow creating the violence in Kings Cross.
  • And interviews by local community website, Redwatch, with candidates Meredith Burgmann of the Labor Party, Chris Harris of The Greens, and Shayne Mallard, Liberals.

But the point is that Moore has the track record as a an unbending campaigner to shape a city that grows greener and more sustainable each year and that  its citizens are proud of. And if a city’s inhabitants are proud and happy you can  bet that business wants a piece of that action.

In a way, it’s the passion that should be the major determinant in who gets to rule in local politics. One reason is that there’s not much support for local council initiatives from the broader economic and political institutions that drive state and federal politics. Which is good at times, and leaves local councils feeling like second class citizens at other times.

Moore has passion aplenty to make up for those shortfalls in local government clout.

Her feisty support of bicycle paths, her high profile engagement of leading planners such as Jan Gehl with his studies and public consultation, the sold out talks and panel sessions at the Town Hall, the “hole in the wall” cafes and small bars that have activated ailing local streets, the refurbishment of parks, local facilities, street paving and furniture, all adds up to a Sydney that challenges the view of its rivals that it’s somehow shallow and lacks soul.

Moore’s plan for a sustainable Sydney by 2030 packs the biggest punch. It’s a plan that involves an unprecedented level of public consultation, at least in Sydney terms.  Residents were consulted and consulted again.

At a small local meeting in Giulia’s café in Chippendale a year or so ago, The Fifth Estate saw the city’s chief executive Monica Barone in action.

How do we get a new community garden or some other local initiative going, she said, answering a question from a small bunch of local residents?

“We go around and knock on every single door. We talk to every resident in the street, if we can, and we go back and talk some more. We do it again. And again.” (Or words to that effect). The point is, there are no short cuts, no magic public relations strategy, just shoe leather.

Despite the endless community engagements and bitter attacks from various areas Moore seems unfazed and unswerving in her commitment to a greener Sydney.

From a green perspective at least, why depose her? Unless the challengers promise as much commitment and passion on sustainability – and energy –  then what they are about is the broader political agenda.

We have state and federal politics for that.

Following are highlights of the City’s Environmental Sustainability Progress 2011/2012 June quarter:

The City is developing a Green Infrastructure Master Plan to help decide the best way to implement green infrastructure projects in its own operations and the City of Sydney LGA. The Green Infrastructure Master Plan comprises five master plans:

  • Tri-generation Master Plan
  • Renewable Energy Master Plan
  • Alternative Waste Treatment Business Case
  • Decentralised Water Master Plan
  • Automated Waste Collection Master Plan

The CitySwitch program delivered a national green lease workshop series and web resource pack with financial support from the Commonwealth Government Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. And the Sydney “financing sustainable upgrades” event, which attracted staff from 60 businesses, will be taken national with the support of partners such as Low Carbon Australia.”

“Fifty-five applications were received for inclusion in the remaining 25 apartment building slots in the Smart Green Apartment (buildings) program.”,

Greenhouse gas emissions
Among the report’s highlights are that the city is on track to exceed its plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent from the 2006 baseline to the 2012. The result is due to energy and emissions savings by the Building Energy and Water Efficiency Retrofit, fleet management and through the LED lighting implementation.

LED lighting
Sydney has become the first city in Australia to roll-out new energy-efficient LED street and park lights. It will replace 6450 conventional lights, saving nearly $800,000 a year in electricity bills and maintenance costs and reducing greenhouse gas  emissions by 51 per cent.

A joint venture of GE and UGL Limited, selected by tender, has begun installing LED street lights in the City of Sydney LGA, as part of a $7 million three year project.

The project was approved with a carbon abatement cost of $17 per tonne. Simple payback is estimated within 10  years. In the June quarter, 448 lights were changed, of a total of 22,000 lights. Of these, 13,500 are maintained by Ausgrid and 8500 by the City.”

Building Energy & Water Efficiency Retrofit
The city has awarded the tender to retrofit 45 of its major buildings with energy and water savings measures. The retrofit will cut energy use by 6641 MWh (mega Watt hours), reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 23 per cent a year and water consumption by 53,313 kilolitres  a year. The energy and water savings will be independently verified. “Payback is estimated within nine years. The two-year, $6.9 million project, will include an upgrade of pools, community centres, libraries and car parks.

Old inefficient lights are being replaced and heating and airconditioning systems are being upgraded and improved. Water-saving devices will include aerated taps and shower heads, cistern modifiers in toilets and waterless urinals.

The project is currently in the implementation phase across a number of buildings and the city has completed the installation of energy savings measures within two properties, Kings Cross Car Park and the Royal South Sydney Hospital Site.

Green fleet
A number of emissions reductions initiatives aim to reduce emissions by 20 per cent across its fleet by 2014.

The aim is to cut the fleet from 600 vehicles in 2006 to 450 vehicles, without reductions in service delivery. Many of the utility have been replaced with smaller diesel vans (1.6L Volkswagen caddy), reducing emissions for these vehicles by up to 50 per cent.

Parks, footpaths and roads are now serviced by diesel-electric hybrid trucks that emit up to 30 per cent less CO2. All new diesel trucks bought by the city now meet Euro 5 engine standards which aim to reduce fuel consumption and emissions.

Sustainable biofuels (B50 & B20) are used in many diesel trucks. These combine diesel with recycled cooking oil, animal fat and canola and reduce emissions by up to 18 per cent.

The city recently completed a two-year program to retrofit 84 of older diesel trucks with catalytic converters and particulate filters to bring them up to Euro 4 compliance standards and reduce noxious gas and particulate emissions by up to 60 per cent. Two of the first production electric vehicles in Australia were secured in 2011 with another two since purchased.

Green Travel Plans
City staff are encouraged to walk or use public transport wherever possible when travelling around town to meetings, site visits and between city venues.

A pushbike fleet has been established, with baskets, training and protective equipment.

Since 2007, City Rangers have used bicycles in Sydney and Bicentennial Parks, and along Glebe foreshore to provide a visible and approachable presence.

Green Gym
The city’s King George V Recreation Centre in The Rocks is trialling a prototype Green Bike power re-use system.

While most gym equipment converts the human energy directly to heat, with some even needing additional power input from the mains, these Green Bikes actually generate energy.

“This energy can then be used for powering electrical devices.

“The city demonstrated the Green Bikes at the Australian Museum’s Science Unleashed event in August. It is planned to utilise the system to educate people in sustainable concepts and demonstrate the technology.

“Each bike generates up to ~250watts (50w is common) with power generated via a modified car alternator. The amount of resistance can be controlled by the rider, via handlebar controls, and almost any appliance that plugs into a standard ‘cigarette lighter’ or USB socket can be operated by the Green Bikes.”

Decentralised Water Master Plan
“A consortium of consultants that includes GHD, the Institute for Sustainable Futures and P3iC have developed a draft Decentralised Water Master Plan which is scheduled for public exhibition late 2012.”

“The Decentralised Water Master Plan provides a blueprint for:

  • Reducing 10 per cent of mains water demand (from 2006 levels) by 2030 through water efficiency measures
  • Reducing 25 per cent of mains water demand within the city’s own buildings and operations by 2030
  • Replacing 10 per cent of 2030 mains water demand with recycled water by 2030 and lobbying NSW and federal governments to fund wastewater recycling projects to achieve 30 per cent water recycling to achieve the national wastewater recycling target for metropolitan cities
  • Reducing 50 per cent of sediments and suspended solids and 15 per cent of nutrients currently discharged into the waterways from stormwater run-off generated by 2030.”

Sustainable Event Management
“The City’s Sustainable Event Management Policy and Guidelines encourage, and in some cases require, that events run by the city:

  • minimise waste generation
  • maximise recycling
  • minimise energy consumption
  • maximise use of renewable energy
  • minimise water consumption
  • conserve bio-diversity
  • minimise impacts on climate change and
  • promote principles of sustainability.

Greening Sydney
“The city is committed to increasing tree coverage, improving urban ecology and biodiversity and supporting community greening  The Greening Sydney Plan acknowledges the importance of ecology and biodiversity to city living and has three strategic focus areas:

  • Public Domain – greening for quality streetscapes and public spaces
  • New Development – maximising greening opportunities
  • Community Greening – empowering the community to green our city.

“Under the Greening Sydney Plan, the city will deliver some 42 programs and projects in partnership with residents, local business, developers and volunteer groups. The city’s programs have seen over 7500 new street trees since 2005 and 28,000 square metres of landscaping has been installed throughout the City’s streets since 2008.”

Urban Ecology
The city is developing an Urban Ecology Strategy. Focus areas of the draft strategy include:

  • Increasing the area and diversity of locally indigenous vegetation
  • Increasing availability of fauna habitat features
  • Improving habitat connectivity
  • Increasing staff and contractor engagement
  • Increasing community engagement
  • Establishing partnerships with other land managers

Parks, Trees and Community Gardens
Since 2008, 20 small parks have been completed with another 12 being planned. We have contributed to the MyParx free Smartphone app providing users with up-to-date information, interactive maps, and personal guided tours of local parks. Major parks, playgrounds and sports fields are featured.

“The city’s Street Tree Master Plan 2011 is a blueprint for street trees.

“Rain gardens were incorporated into 10 of the 23 traffic safety improvements installed in 2011/12.”

Green Roofs and Walls
“The City of Sydney has developed a Green Roofs and Walls Strategy as part of the Greening Sydney Plan.

Sustainability Programs
The three-year Sustainable Action Values Everyone program was completed this quarter, with the SAVE Finale, presenting on key outcomes and lessons learnt to over 150 practitioners in the field from 88 organisations.