Improving performance through smart technology

Lake Macquarie City Council is committed to improving performance through innovation, best practice and smart technology.

For the past eight years, Council has looked for ways to use new technology to drive down energy costs and reduce environmental impact.

Through determined effort and planning, the organisation has increased its solar photovoltaic capacity from zero in 2008 to 0.5 megawatts in 2016, with 15 of its buildings now upgraded through the installation of onsite power generation.

With a massive 178 kilowatts of PV system installed on the roof in 2015, Council’s Administration Building officially qualifies as a power station.

The City Art Gallery has become one of the most sustainable exhibition spaces in regional Australia after receiving 30kW of solar panels and improving efficiency by switching over to a state-of-the-art LED lighting system.

Council’s Acting Manager Sustainability Dean Chapman said, together, these efforts have taken Council to 80 percent of its 2023 target of 0.6MW installed.

“And every dollar we spend on efficiency ultimately pays off, helping advance cutting-edge technologies, supporting local business, reducing pollution and benefiting ratepayers by saving $170,000 in Council’s annual electricity costs,” Mr Chapman said.

This journey has involved significant commitment and innovation, and Lake Macquarie City Council has arrived at a model for optimal solar rollout: scale, reliability and affordability.

“We are now in the process of applying this approach to Council buildings across the City.

“We are also developing innovative funding models for installation of solar panels on the buildings Council leases to community groups.

“This smart management initiative will help reduce electricity costs for these groups while increasing clean energy generation in Lake Macquarie City.”

To complement the onsite renewable energy program, Council has implemented initiatives to reduce its overall electricity consumption by replacing office lighting with 1,664 more energy-efficient LEDs, resulting in a 50 percent decrease in electricity use for lighting.

So, how else can organisations like Lake Macquarie City Council modernise their energy generation and help meet emissions targets?

Sustainable choices in fleet management combined with innovative GPS vehicle tracking systems present another opportunity.

Operating a greener fleet has been an option many fleet businesses have considered, but combining green vehicles with GPS technology has the potential for further reduction in fuel use and associated savings in carbon emissions through improved travel route planning.

Council has introduced GPS technology in its garbage truck fleet to leverage these possibilities and has shared its experiences and learnings of best practice at a Driving Future Fleet Management conference in September to help other organisations future-proof their fleet through technology and innovation.

“We see the combination of smart investments in energy efficiency and clean energy, which are integral to the City’s commitment to cost reduction, innovation and smart management, as a win for our environment and our economy.”