Emissions in the cross-hairs

Solar power is one part of Swan’s carbon management strategy.
Solar power is one part of Swan’s carbon management strategy.

The draft strategy outlines a series of actions to minimise emissions, many of which have already started.

In 2012-13, the City started keeping track of its emissions from its municipal buildings and fleet of vehicles and machinery.

Since then, Swan has actually reduced its energy use by about 4 per cent despite an increase in rateable properties of about 11 per cent.

Meanwhile, emissions from the City’s fleet have risen by about 8 per cent.

Swan installed solar systems on several of its municipal buildings in 2011, but the systems are small by modern standards.

The City also has an “Environmental Champions” staff group that identifies emission reduction opportunities and champions corporate change.

Acting chief executive Colin Cameron said additional actions would be rolled out if Council adopted the Carbon Management Strategy in coming months.

Mr Cameron said there were several ways for local government to help reduce a community’s carbon footprint, such as the exemption of homes needing planning approval for solar panels.

“Local governments can also encourage retention and planting of street trees, which can drastically cool a suburb, thus reducing need for energy use through household airconditioning,” he said.

“(And) constructing and maintaining cycle paths and footpaths encourages walking and cycling rather than driving cars.”

Mr Cameron said requirements under the State Government’s R-codes, like parking concessions near public transport and minimum open-space requirements, also helped.

Further initiatives could also have long-term benefits to ratepayers. In 2014-15, $1.67 million was spent on electricity to parks, reserves, ovals and buildings in the City of Swan, while another $2.8 million was spent on streetlights.

Swan’s eastern neighbour, the Shire of Mundaring, will develop a Carbon Reduction Strategy in the 2018-19 financial year.

Mundaring is starting its Emissions Reporting Platform this year, which will record the Shire’s energy and water expenditure.

Acting chief executive Megan Griffiths said the Shire took advantage of the Commonwealth Government’s Community Energy Efficiency Program grants in 2011 to introduce emission-reducing initiatives.

Mundaring used the grant to upgrade solar at Bilgoman Aquatic Centre, which finished last year and has seen a 41 per cent reduction in energy use at the pool.

Solar panels have also been installed at the Shire administration building, operations centre and Brown Park Youth Centre.

Ms Griffiths said the Mundaring Indoor Recreation Facility and Boya Community Hub would start construction this year and include energy-saving measures like solar hot water and LED lighting.

“At MIRF, rainwater will be harvested and used to reticulate the nearby oval and evaporative airconditioning used, as it draws less energy,” she said.