Published on March 25th, 2013 | by Mridul Chadha


Melbourne Is Now A Certified Carbon Neutral City

March 25th, 2013 by  

Melbourne has reduced and offset its emissions to become a certified carbon-neutral city under Australia’s National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS). The city has also launched several programmes to reduce its energy consumption and emission production as part of the Net Zero Emissions strategy.

Timber shutters on the western facade of CH2

Timber shutters on western facade of CH2
Image Credit: Melbourne City Council

The city has identified four areas where significant emission reduction opportunities exist:

  • Commercial sector; Reduce emissions by 25% from business-as-usual levels by 2020
  • Residential sector; Cut emissions by 20% by 2020
  • Transport: 20% reduction in emissions from public transport by 2020, 15% emission reduction from cars and 100% increase in use of bicycles
  • Power sector; 19% emission reduction from energy production by 2020

The city council has helped several businesses and buildings improve their energy efficiency and has also conducted energy audits of 12,000 homes across the city. Clean transport has been encouraged through innovative programmes like the Cycle Melbourne scheme. Small-scale solar power generation to reduce dependence on fossil fuels have also been encouraged.

While the city is believed to have achieved significant emission reductions from these measures, it is believed to have offset its emissions through the NCOS, Australia’s voluntary carbon offset scheme.

“The NCOS Carbon Neutral Program, administered by Low Carbon Australia, allows Australian organisations, products and events to be certified as carbon neutral,” they write on their website. “This means that net associated emissions are equal to zero. Consumers can have confidence that organisations, products and events bearing the NCOS trademark have achieved carbon neutrality in a way that achieves a genuine reduction in overall emissions.”

The centre-piece of the city council’s sustainability efforts is the Council House 2 (CH2). A plethora of measures have been implemented in this building to reduce energy consumption, waste generation and enhance captive power generation.

The building has a cogeneration plant which generates 30% of its total power demand. The waste heat generated from this plant is used for air-conditioning. The building is also fitted with a small 3.5 kW solar photovoltaic system and elevators that generate electricity while braking. Hot water is provided through solar water heaters. The building purchases 100% accredited green power.

The western facade of the building features recycled timber shutters. These shutters close with varying speeds during summer and winter to optimise the inside temperature and allow natural light to enter the building. The building is equipped with several water conservation and recycling equipment as well. These include sewer mining, re-use of fire sprinkler test water, and rainwater harvesting.

Low Carbon Australia certified the city for achieving the carbon neutral status. Low Carbon Australia’s CEO Meg McDonald, while congratulating the city council, said;

Global leading cities like City of Melbourne are responsible for an extraordinary range of economic activities and services and are critical to our move to a low carbon future. Quantifying the carbon footprint of such an organisation and reducing carbon emissions is a mammoth task, but one that can have substantial benefits for the environment, the city and for ratepayers. Councils taking this type of leadership position are important in showing the way in their communities for a prosperous low carbon future.

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About the Author

currently works as Head-News & Data at Climate Connect Limited, a market research and analytics firm in the renewable energy and carbon markets domain. He earned his Master’s in Technology degree from The Energy & Resources Institute in Renewable Energy Engineering and Management. He also has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering. Mridul has a keen interest in renewable energy sector in India and emerging carbon markets like China and Australia.

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  • Ronald Brakels

    Note that the City of Melbourne is not to be confused with Melbourne which is a city. Melbourne which is a city has made a good start by installing about 100,000 rooftop solar systems, but it is still the giant battle zoid of Australian emissions and is busy pumping CO2 into the atmosphere that has not seen the light of day since fungus was invented.

    • Craig Allen

      Yeah, I think this probably just refers to the buildings in which council employees work, and the vehicles they drive. Perhaps also some municiple facilities. Things like street lighting or waste treatment are the responsibility of the (coal loving) State government I’m pretty sure. It is important that they’re working with businesses, but the carbon neutral classification is a bit misleading without that context being explained.

    • anderlan

      “CO2 into the atmosphere that has not seen the light of day since fungus was invented” I’m copying that for sure. Such a memorable way of emphasizing that point that we are not only abusing the carbon cycle, but that most of our fossil fuel burning is carbon that was thought to be permanently removed from the carbon cycle by Providence–it was sequestered/buried before life could even break it down and ‘burn’ it. Thanks.

      • Adam Grant

        A certain atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases is desirable, and as we mature as a species we’re going to have to manage these levels in a responsible way, possibly clamping total GHG to the equivalent of 200 ppm of CO2 or so. Remember, if this level is allowed to fall too low, the climate’s natural course will include ice ages.
        For now though, the challenge is to break corporations’ political power, slow the release of additional GHG’s, and soak up the worst of the excess carbon in the air and seas.

      • yeah, that’s a great one. 😀

    • say who?

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