Sustainability initiatives

  Vic Park Solar installation

The protection of our environment is an important global and local responsibility. We want to continue to lead the transformation in how we live and use our resources in the future. 

We have a proud history of environmental action and leadership. We take our mandate for environmental leadership from a passionate and engaged community who demand strong action to meet our urban sustainability challenges. We are guided by our Yarra Environment Strategy 2013-2017, adopted in December 2013. You can download a copy of the strategy here and a summary of the strategy here.  We are also Victoria's first carbon netural council.

We have led the way on best practice carbon management at the local government level, becoming the first accredited carbon neutral Council in Victoria in 2012 (and the second in Australia).

In 2017 we announced our partnership in the Melbourne Renewable Energy Project (MREP), marking the first time in Australia that a group of local governments, cultural institutions, universities and corporations have collectively purchased renewable energy from a newly built facility. Learn more about MREP

Some of our other achievements include:
  • reducing our greenhouse emissions (before offsets) by 37% from 2001 levels
  • meeting 25% of our own energy needs from local, renewable and low carbon sources
  • water tanks at over 35 sites, including many parks and reserves

Reducing our greenhouse footprint

Our target is to reduce Council's greenhouse emissions (before offsets) by 60% by 2020 (from 2001 levels), and we are already well on the way, having achieved 37% reduction by June 30 2016.

Solar electricity generation (PV) panels have been installed on 42 of our buildings, totalling over 740kW generation capacity. The largest installation is a 99.75kW system located at Victoria Park.

Other smaller systems are located on various buildings including childcare centres and libraries. These not only produce energy, but also enable children, their families and other residents to see solar panels in action.

Tesla 2 batteries are installed in 6 community facilities, including leisure centres, libraries and sports pavilions. The total battery storage capacity is nearly 100kWh – which is the equivalent to powering 9 average Yarra households, each day. 

Natural Gas Cogeneration systems installed at our aquatic centres generate onsite electricity and 'free' heat and from natural gas, with a total 180kW generation capacity.

We also have Solar Hot Water and Heat Pump units installed across 14 sites, reducing the usage of gas and electricity.

In 2010 we were a leader in changing the first of about 4000 streetlights to energy efficient globes. We have now reduced electricity use from Streetlights by approximately 60% and cut our carbon emissions by over 4000 tonnes per year.

Our staff are motivated and committed to being more sustainable. We work together to promote sustainable behaviour at all our offices, turning off lights and appliances not when they are not being used. We also have an internal staff Green Team.

Yarra's Energy Performance Contract 

In 2014 we initiated our innovative 10 year Energy Performance Contract (EPC). 

This major Council project aims to reduce Councils greenhouse gas emissions by over 2,000 tCO2e per annum and pay off the capital expenditure in less than ten years by reducing Council’s energy and maintenance related costs by over $270,000 per annum. 

An EPC is a unique way to retrofit buildings for environmental and financial benefits by using a large-scale turnkey project, made up of many actions, and providing a guaranteed return on investment. 

Yarra’s EPC project was supported by a Federal Government grant and built on the existing State Government’s Greener Government Buildings program.

Yarra was the first Victorian local government to implement a holistic EPC, setting an example in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which have since been adopted by other Victorian Councils.  

Find out more about how the EPC is going.

Environmentally Sustainable Development

We have played an active role in the development and approval of Environmentally Sustainable Development (ESD) policy into the Yarra Planning Scheme. ESD helps ensure best practice in sustainable development from the design stage through to construction and operation.

We ensure all new and renovated Council buildings include significant ESD features, such as the 6-green star rated 'Bargoonga Nganjin, North Fitzroy Library' building. 

One Planet

In 2014, our world-class sustainability program saw us become the first Australian local government to achieve national certification against the One Planet Council Standard.

'One Planet Living' is an internationally recognised benchmark bestowed on regions around the world, for being exemplars of sustainable living. Our sustainability performance was audited again ten principles that allow communities to live and work within their fair share of the Earth's resources.

You can read more on City of Yarra's sustainability program analysis by downloading the summary

Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy

In 2017 Yarra joined over 7,436 other cities around the world in the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy.

The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy is an international coalition of cities and local governments with a shared long-term vision of promoting and supporting voluntary action to combat climate change and move to a low emission, resilient society.

This is an historic and powerful response by the world’s cities to address the climate challenge.

Northern Alliance for Greenhouse Action

We are an active member of the Northern Alliance for Greenhouse Action (NAGA) along with eight other local Governments and the Moreland Energy Foundation.

NAGA's goal is to achieve significant greenhouse reductions by delivering effective programs and leveraging council, community and business action.

External recognition of our sustainability leadership

Our sustainability profile and programs for the community have been recognised in a number of coverated awards.

These include:

Yarra Energy Foundation

In 2010, we established the local not-for-profit Yarra Energy Foundation (YEF) to help Yarra's households, businesses and community groups to save energy and money, while reducing their carbon footprint. 

The Yarra Energy Foundation team provides a range of services and advice to make it easy for those living and working in Yarra to access knowledge on sustainable energy.

Find out more about the Yarra Energy Foundation on their website.