Green Team to combat emissions

Located on the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales, Snowy River Shire Council has established a Green Team to provide leadership on environmental sustainability issues.

Established in 2007, the team meets once a month and comprises 10 staff from across Council departments, the General Manager, and a community representative.

The team has begun by developing a policy framework and an action plan to prioritise various initiatives to reduce Council’s environmental footprint.

Proposed initiatives include an audit and replacement of Council equipment and plant with more energy efficient models; support for home builders to include energy efficient measures and alternative power use; and examining services and charges for waste collection and recycling to promote more recycling.

Snowy River General Manager, Joe Vescio, said that in 2007, Council set out to achieve a 50 per cent reduction in energy use by 2020, and also aimed to be using 50 per cent renewable energy by that time. As such, the Green Team engaged Planet Footprint to benchmark Council’s current energy use, so that progress can be monitored.

Planet Footprint currently provides tracking, reporting and benchmarking on community environmental performance to more than 50 councils Australia wide.

Its initial reports for Snowy River indicate that almost 80 per cent of Council’s total emissions are from energy use, and 15 per cent from fleet fuel.

Council has already purchased two Toyota Prius hybrid cars for its community transport services unit, resulting in a reduction of fuel costs and outputs for the service. It has also implemented a number of initiatives to reduce energy use, such as programming heating, lighting and desktop computers to turn off automatically after hours. These initiatives resulted in an 18 per cent decline in energy use in the first quarter of 2008.

However, more is still to be done, with electricity use in Council offices accounting for less than two per cent of Council’s total electricity use, and electricity for water and sewer pumps accounting for over 50 per cent.

In February, the Green Team also assisted Clean Energy for Eternity (CEFE) to host and promote the Sustainable House Expo as part of the 2009 Flowing Festival.

Festival displays provided residents with information on how they could make their home more sustainable.

Council’s stand provided information on BASIX, the New South Wales building sustainability index, as well as information on development issues for sustainable energy and water installations.

It also promoted the NSW Climate Change Fund Residential Rebate Scheme.

This $100 million program was established to help people make their homes more water and energy efficient.

It provides rebates for rainwater tanks, climate friendly hot water systems, ceiling insulation and water efficient washing machines.

For further information on the Snowy River Shire Green Team visit Council’s website at www.snowyriver.nsw.gov.au and follow the links to Environment and Green Team.