Our green report documents our progress on meeting our environmental sustainability goals and targets.
We’re a leader in action on climate change. In 2011 we were the first Council in the country to be certified as carbon neutral, and since 2006 emissions from our operations have dropped 74.5%.
Since July 2020 we buy 100% renewable electricity from 2 wind farms and one solar farm in regional NSW. This cuts our emissions by 20,000 tonnes a year – enough to power around 8,000 households.
We continue to transition our fleet, plant and equipment away from fossil fuels. Our parks teams no longer use petrol blowers, and 80% of our hedge trimmers are electric. We purchased our first electric ride-on mower following a successful trial this year. And we added 2 specialist electric vehicles to our fleet.
To help reduce emissions in our local area, we released new planning controls. These now include performance standards for net zero energy buildings.
We also released our electrification of transport strategy and action plan. The plan sets out 21 actions to encourage the transition to electric vehicles.
We continue to invest in emerging technology to support the energy transition. Local business Buildings Alive was awarded a grant to conduct real-time carbon management at the Sydney Opera House. The grant supported a software solution for real-time renewable electricity and cost tracking. The aim is to make the Sydney Opera House more grid-interactive – to use more energy when renewables are abundant and less during peak times.
Many small and medium-sized businesses lack the resources to hire a sustainability manager or create a net zero plan. To help with this, we awarded a grant to the Australian Retail Association and local startup Greener to create a net zero roadmap for the retail sector, an Australian first.
This partnership also produced Greener for Business, the first low-cost tool for small and medium-sized businesses. The app outlines net zero action plans for businesses and identifies cost savings.
Waste and materials
What we do with waste and how we find new ways to manage it will not only reduce pollution, it will also help develop new opportunities in a circular economy.
In 2022/23 we met or exceeded all our waste diversion and resource recovery targets. To help reduce landfill waste we installed food waste dehydrators at 3 of our biggest sites. These convert food waste into a soil conditioner we use in our parks. About 8,250kg of food waste was processed which produced around 2,500kg of soil conditioner.
To encourage clothing reuse and reduce textile waste we held workshops in partnership with local organisations. Our clothing swap events resulted in 472 people recirculating 723kg of clothing. We also educated 3,775 residents on recycling and reuse at 47 pop-up stalls around the city.
We continue to invest in developing new services and products to reduce waste and support the circular economy. We funded FashTech Lab 2.0 with a grant to digitise the development of fashion collections.
We also supported the Friendly Farms Network to investigate the potential of hemp panels to be used as a construction material. The study found industrial hemp can be grown organically as a regenerative construction material and the industry is ready to scale.
Greening our city
A green city helps reduce temperatures in hot weather, brings nature back to our urban spaces and improves the health and wellbeing of our residents and visitors.
In the past financial year we planted 910 trees in our parks and streets, as well as 72,515 new plants across our area. Since 2008/9 our parks and open spaces have increased from 188 to 217 hectares.
We’re striving for our city to have 40% green cover by 2050, and 27% of the city covered by tree canopy. In 2022 our canopy had increased to 19.8%.
In June 2023 our updated street tree master plan won the NSW Australian Institute Landscape Architecture Award of Excellence in Landscape Planning and the ShadeSmart Award. The award recognised key plan improvements, extensive community feedback and climate resilient species selection.
On top of supporting community gardens, verge gardens, composting and Landcare groups in our area we also promote events that help us better understand the biodiversity around us.
In October 2022 we held a Community Growers Morning at Sydney City Farm. Seventy community gardeners and home growers came together for tours, talks and a seed swap. More than 250 packets of seeds from Sydney City Farm were distributed. Seed saving is a positive way to build community, share knowledge and develop social resilience.
Water is crucial to so many aspects of our lives and brings huge environmental, economic and social benefits. We must properly manage this finite resource to build resilience.
We aim to keep our operational use of drinkable water below 2006 levels even as we build new facilities and infrastructure. In the past financial year we met our target of zero increase in potable water use against the 2006 baseline.
With drier conditions predicted we’re targeting water use and upgrading our recycled water systems. Through improved water use monitoring we identified and fixed leaks faster in toilets, taps, and pipes. This saved around $500,000.
Water saving was a focus of the restoration works on the Archibald Memorial Fountain in Hyde Park. The upgrades reduced water use by 50% compared to the 2019/20 baseline.
Aquatic centres use a lot of water. This year we developed an aquatic centre performance benchmarking tool with support from 7 councils. The tool compares water and energy use in a particular centre against average use.
We previously reported every 6 months. In 2021/22 we shifted to annual reports, in line with global reporting practices.
See the numbers we used to generate the graphs in the 2021/22 Green Report.