Revolving Sustainability Fund
South Gippsland Shire Council has recently completed an ambitious project of upgrading streetlights across the municipality.
Identified as the largest single contributor to electricity costs from Council’s operations, not to mention the associated greenhouse gas emissions, upgrading streetlights was made a priority in early 2012.
Assisted with a Community Energy Efficiency Project (CEEP) grant and a significant investment of funds by the Council, the project has resulted in a reduction of at least 400 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year and a $70,000 annual saving.
Rather than resting on their laurels and pocketing the savings, the Council decided to reinvest a sizable portion of the savings into an annual Revolving Sustainability Fund.
The Fund is designed to provide a ready budget for further energy efficiency savings and other greenhouse gas reduction projects on an ongoing basis each year.
After completing the street lighting upgrades in February 2014, the first incarnation of the Fund during the same year went into a range of energy efficiency measures at the Council’s third-biggest energy-using site; a works depot with considerable heating loads and significant lighting.
Upgrades at this site included the replacement of the office hot water unit with a solar hot water heater, the installation of timers on drinks fridges, urns and water chillers, and the replacement of an old chest freezer.
However by far the most effective and innovative measure was the replacement of mercury vapour (high intensity discharge) high-bay lamps with innovative LED lights in the workshop space.
The replacement of the high-bay lighting alone will reduce CO2 emissions by over 16 tonnes annually and save around $4000 in energy costs.
With the Fund locked in for the foreseeable future, and a number of projects under consideration for 2014/15, the costs savings and reduction in greenhouse emissions are guaranteed to continue to multiply at South Gippsland for many years to come.