The draft Energy Efficiency Master Plan for the City of Sydney is open for comment until 4 May. It can be accessed at http://sydneyyoursay.com.au/energy-efficiency-master-plan. The Master Plan is a good news story as it provides strategies that will achieve significant greenhouse gas reductions while saving money for business and residents.
The effectiveness of energy efficiency measures has already been demonstrated by a five per cent reduction in energy used by buildings in the City of Sydney between 2005 and 2012, at the same time as employment has risen 17 per cent and population by 13 per cent. However, this decrease cannot be relied on to continue in the face of ever-increasing population unless new energy efficiency measures are adopted.
The Master Plan proposes eleven actions to ensure continuing compliance with existing policies and programs; new policies and programs setting higher targets, and enabling actions to make it happen. Effective existing programs include Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS), NSW Building Sustainability Index (BASIX) and the National Construction Code (NCC), as well as information and incentives programs and targets. Opportunities for extending these programs include building retrofits, standards for existing building, and mandatory reporting requirements.
The Glebe Society has submitted a response to the Draft Master Plan, supporting its aims and strategies. We also recommended action to involve and inform local residents, specifically:
- That Council develop a strategy for reporting progress in each of the ‘villages’ within the LGA. In particular Council should collaborate with major business to promote local awareness of progress in energy efficiency.
- In the Glebe/Forest Lodge area, the main large and medium businesses are Broadway Shopping Centre, AAPT and Woolcock Institute. Information about the action being taken by these businesses to achieve energy efficiency in line with Council’s targets, and regular reporting of achievement, would be welcomed by the Glebe Society and the community generally.
- The Glebe Society also looks forward to community engagement strategies by Council to assist residents to improve their own household energy efficiency. The project ‘Our Solar Future’, an initiative of the Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils which is being launched in April this year, provides a model which the City Council could emulate for use with City of Sydney residents.
Residents are also encouraged to submit their own comments on the Draft Master Plan, through the SydneyYourSay website. While it may seem that a plan to reduce energy use while saving money is self-evidently worthwhile, we have plenty of evidence to show that action in relation to climate change is far from universally supported. Those who support such action need to make their voices heard.