Yarra - Victoria's first carbon neutral Council

 

Solar panels on the North Carlton LibraryYarra City Council is the first Victorian Council to be recognised as a certified carbon neutral organisation.

Council was first certified as carbon neutral under the National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS) in late November 2012. Council has maintained its NCOS carbon neutral status since this time .

Established by the Australian Government in 2010, the NCOS sets transparent requirements for calculating, auditing and offsetting the carbon footprint of an organisation so it can achieve 'carbon neutrality'.

Yarra is the second Council in Australia, after the City of Sydney, to receive NCOS certification.

 

What does becoming carbon neutral mean?

Becoming carbon neutral required Council to measure its emissions and balance them by investing in accredited practices that are recognised for reducing emissions by the same amount.

The NCOS program provides strict eligibility requirements for qualifying offset programs, to ensure confidence in the voluntary carbon offset market from both a consumer and provider perspective.
These include both national and international schemes.

Council’s offset purchases over the 5 years of carbon neutrality have included investment intwo windfarms in China and a Wastewater treatment and Biogas Utilisation project in Thailand which produce NCOS accredited offsets.
Previously, Council has invested in accredited GreenPower™ to balance emissions created from electricity use in buildings, open spaces and street lighting.
However, in September 2011 Council resolved to achieve its 2011-12 carbon neutral status through the purchase of  NCOS approved offsets for its entire emissions, rather than purchasing GreenPower™ to cover the emissions from electricity.

Investing in carbon neutral practices recognises that climate change is a global issue and that emission reductions made elsewhere have the same positive effect as those made locally.

 

The journey to become carbon neutral

The goal of becoming a carbon neutral organisation was first outlined by Council in its 2008 Yarra Environment Strategy.

Developed through extensive consultation with the community in 2007, the Yarra Environment Strategy set directions for introducing sustainable initiatives and reducing Council's own energy use and carbon emissions.

Council prioritised actions to minimise its greenhouse emissions in the following order:

  • Measure all emissions and evaluate the effectiveness of previous reduction measures
  • Avoid using energy at all opportunities and eliminate waste
  • Reduce what energy needs to be used through efficient technology and behaviour change
  • Green energy supplies by switching to low or no emission sources
  • Sequester and offset all residual emissions that can’t be eliminated through avoiding, reducing and changing energy supplies.

 

Measuring our emissions 

In 2015/16, Council's emissions were  12,787 tCO2.

Emissions were determined by using nationally recognised calculation methods that used data from a variety of sources including utility bills, direct fuel purchases and contractor fuel use, waste, use of public transport, taxis, flights, hire cars/buses, paper use, water use and emissions from refrigerant gases found in air conditioning equipment.

 

 

 

 

 

Emission source

Tonnes CO2-e

 

Electricity

4,553

 

Electricity- Street Lighting

2,934

 

Natural gas

1,939

 

Transport Fuels 

860

 

Transport Fuels - Contractors 

1,844

 

Stationary Fuel use - Contractors

0

 

Waste 

39

 

Fugitive Emissions 

202

 

Paper 

112

 

Business Travel of Employees 

44

 

Water

176

 

Asphalt

85

 

Total Emissions

12,787

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a full description of how Council determines its emissions boundary, see our Public Disclosure Summary

Verifying our numbers

To meet the NCOS assessment requirements, Council employed an independent auditor from the Register of Greenhouse and Energy Auditors to check its methodology for calculating the organisation's annual carbon emissions.. This independent audit is required every second year. The audit/assurance statement is here

 

Next steps

As part of NCOS certification, Council must present audits of its energy use for review and approval annually.

It is important to note, that Council's journey towards long term sustainability does not end with the NCOS certification.

Becoming carbon neutral through the purchase of offsets is just one of the ways Council can reduce its energy footprint.

Council will continue to invest in infrastructure projects and programs such as retrofitting buildings to reduce its annual energy use in real terms.

To effectively provide the community with the services and facilities that it needs, Council inevitably has to consume energy.

The goal is to account for that energy through more efficient use, a greater reliance on renewable energy sources and investment in renewable energy projects via the purchase of offsets.

Further information
Yarra City Council 
Environmental Management
9205 5555
info@yarracity.vic.gov.au

 

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