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Shire adopts sustainable approach to its buildings

January 26, 2022 BY

The Surf Coast Shire council has already taken some steps towards climate action, including installing a collective 135kW of solar panels across four of its buildings. Photo: SURF COAST SHIRE

THE Surf Coast Shire council has adopted a policy that will result in better outcomes for the environment from the organisation’s facilities and buildings.

The Environmentally Sustainable Council Facilities Policy outlines the council’s commitment to implementing the principles of Environmentally Sustainable Design (ESD) and ensures that climate change is considered at new facilities, renewals and upgrades.

The policy sets minimum ESD requirements and uses the widely adopted Green Star and Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard (BESS) rating systems for higher value projects.

Initiatives under the new approach will include procuring renewable electricity supply for all new buildings, avoiding new gas installations, and ensuring the incorporation of circular economy and carbon neutrality considerations during design and construction.

While the shire expects the policy will add some upfront costs to projects, it is expected to result in an overall cost reduction over the lifecycle of facilities through reduced future operational costs due to reduced utility expenditure and carbon offsetting requirements, as well as avoiding the later need to upgrade or retrofit environmental considerations into facilities.

Councillors adopted the policy last year, and the policy now applies to all council facilities and buildings including administrative offices, leisure and aquatic facilities, libraries, recreation reserve facilities, town halls, childcare centres, kindergartens, and works depots.

Cr Kate Gazzard described the Environmentally Sustainable Council Facilities Policy as a key step on the council’s low emissions journey.

“Emissions associated with the construction and operation of council facilities have historically been a significant contributor to council’s corporate greenhouse gas emissions profile,” she said.

“We recognise the policy means there are going to be more upfront costs to projects but ultimately, it will result in an overall cost reduction, with lower energy use and ongoing operational costs, knowing these facilities and buildings are going to be utilised by community members and visitors for years to come.”

She said she was pleased to adopt the policy, which is an action on the council’s Climate Emergency Corporate Response Plan 2021-2031.

“Thanks to this policy, we are going to see important outcomes including procuring renewable electricity for all new buildings, water efficiency, transitioning away from gas, and avoiding waste – both during construction and when the facilities are up and running.

“It will all help as the council strives to become a carbon-neutral organisation.”