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City of Sydney to accelerate environmental action plan

Clover Moore Town Hall

The City of Sydney has approved its Environmental Action Plan, which will see it push for net zero emissions by 2050 and get 50 per cent renewables for the entire local government area by 2030.

The draft plan was revealed in June last year and, following a period of consultation, has been amended and finalised, with Lord Mayor Clover Moore pushing for speedy implementation.

“In December, council supported my proposal to accelerate the implementation of the action plan, including in our own operations. Now the plan has been adopted, we can press ahead with this vital work,” Ms Moore said.

Not much has changed from the draft we covered last year, with the engagement process garnering just 20 online survey responses – 10 organisation submissions and five submissions from individuals.

Better standards promoted

A key concern from industry was around a section on guidance around excellence for new building construction, which promoted standards above the minimum, including on energy and emissions, water efficiency, materials and resource recovery, landscaping, biodiversity and community gardens.

Some of the respondents thought the guidelines could be interpreted as mandatory new minimum performance standards, so the voluntary nature of the guidance has been stressed.

The plan also calls for higher BASIX targets for residential development, including BASIX 60 or higher for single dwellings, BASIX 50 or higher for apartments 2-5 storeys and BASIX 40 or higher for apartments of 6+ storeys (double the current standard).

A submission from Mirvac argued against these higher BASIX targets.

“Increased BASIX benchmarks will result in substantial cost implications and limited environmental improvement,” it said.

City shows that higher standards equate to less than 1 per cent in cost increases

However the City said research it commissioned found the “marginal cost of reaching higher BASIX targets equates to less than one per cent of the total sale price of an average apartment in the City of Sydney”.

It has now included examples of excellence in building construction, including One Central Park, the St George branch at Barangaroo and 1 Bligh Street in Sydney; the Alto Hotel in Melbourne; and the dsquared Consulting office fitout in Adelaide.

Other improvements to the plan include increased targets for tree and shrub planting and more up-to-date data inclusion.

Upcoming actions in the plan include the rollout of a net zero emissions building challenge, a $10 million investment to increase renewable energy uptake, the facilitation of a large-scale water recycling project and the development of targeted sustainability plans for the commercial office, accommodation and entertainment sectors.

“We’re looking at how we can improve the city’s environmental performance through our capital works projects, our property portfolio and our operational waste management,” Ms Moore said.

The city is partnering with the C40 City Solutions platform to determine the most effective way to investment the $10 million allocated to renewables. A recent community workshop found that bulk buying of energy from new renewable projects was the most supported mechanism.

“These new plans will help us achieve better environmental outcomes for our city and make 2017 a defining year in our long-term commitment to action on climate change,” Ms Moore said.

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