Brisbane City Council reached a major sustainability milestone this month, officially gaining carbon neutral status.
The goal was achieved through a combination of energy efficiency activities, emissions reduction actions, purchase of green power for council assets and the purchase of carbon offsets.
Brisbane lord mayor Graham Quirk said the council had “effectively eliminated its carbon footprints”.
“This means that our greenhouse gas emissions are equal to zero and council has met requirements outlined by the Australian Government’s National Carbon Offset Standard,” Mr Quirk said.
The offsets came from both offshore and Australian projects including hydroelectricity in China, savannah burning in Aboriginal Australian communities and regeneration of native bushland on degraded agricultural land.
Some of the projects council undertook during 2015-16 to reduce emissions from energy use included retrofitting 25,000 streetlights for energy efficiency, and installing more LED lighting on the Story Bridge and key public spaces including South Bank, King George Square and Roma Street Parkland.
Solar power systems have also been installed across multiple council buildings and facilities, including a 100-kilowatt system at the Brisbane Powerhouse.
Mr Quirk said that as part of maintaining the status, the council would invest $6 million annually in eliminating and offsetting the current annual level of carbon emissions of around 800,000 tonnes.
Measures will include measuring and monitoring emissions from sources including landfill, energy use, the council fleet, buses and ferries.
The council will also request data from the lessors of 20 properties it or its subsidiaries occupy where the lessor provides base building services but did not provide emissions data for the 2015-16 emissions reporting period.
Only one site occupied by Brisbane Marketing had emissions data available for 2015-16.
The council will also be requesting energy use data from all 650 of its downstream leases, including commercial and retail tenants, pools, sporting venues, golf courses and community halls so their emissions can be factored in for 2016-17 reporting.
Activities planned to further council’s overall emissions include implementing eco-driving techniques and technologies for the drivers of the approximately 1200 public transport buses.
There will also be further implementation of solar PV technology and energy-efficient lighting, ongoing purchase of green power and the purchase of independently verified carbon offsets, Mr Quirk said.
He said the council aimed to “lead by example”, and encouraged all Brisbane residents to reduce household emissions.
“Through our sustainability arm CitySmart, we have a number of initiatives to help people understand their impact on the environment, through electricity usage, waste recycling and transport.
“Our Green Heart programs for homes and schools, Green Heart Fairs, Revive pop up markets, Tip Shops, Active School Travel and Cycling Brisbane are all designed to help the people of Brisbane reduce their impact on the environment.”