Greenhouse gas emissions from some of the city’s major buildings are preventing the City of Greater Bendigo from reaching its aspirational target of halving emissions by 2020.
The city’s latest environmental activities report, released on Wednesday, revealed natural gas emissions from council buildings jumped from 615 tonnes in 2015-16 to 1000 tonnes last financial year – an increase of almost 40 per cent.
The Bendigo Aquatic Centre and the Bendigo Art Gallery were the main contributors to that increase, according to the report, which warns of further pressure on emissions in the next financial year with the opening of the Gurri Wanyarra Wellbeing Centre at Kangaroo Flat and new air conditioning installations at some community buildings.
Overall, total greenhouse gas emissions have dropped to 45,385 tonnes, from 47,801 tonnes in 2015-16.
However, the target to reduce emissions from 2011 levels by 50 per cent in 2020 is based on energy use from “activities directly under city control”, which includes council buildings and facilities.
These emissions have increased, from 8742 tonnes in 2015-16 to 9312 tonnes, which the report attributes to increased energy consumption at the Queen Elizabeth Oval, Lake Weeroona toilet blocks, Alexandra Fountain, Heathcote RSL Public Hall and the Eaglehawk landfill.
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Energy-saving measures, including investment in solar, has not been enough to counter these increases in consumption, the report stated.
“The city now has three years to achieve a 50 per cent reduction in emissions and it is clear that ‘business as usual’ won’t deliver this result,” the report read.
“Significant investment is required for more energy efficiency, more on-site solar, development of solar farms, more initiatives across light and heavy fleet, as well as a shift toward purchasing renewable energy instead of coal-fired electricity and natural gas.”
The council will conduct a feasibility study on a local, large-scale solar facility this year, in a bid to reduce emissions.
Emissions from the region’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, the Eaglehawk landfill, have decreased slightly – from 30,690 to 28,775 tonnes – which contributed to the overall decrease in emissions.
Encouragingly, the total waste to landfill has decreased by 3566 tonnes in the 2016-17 financial year despite approximately 1000 new garbage or recycling services coming into the kerbside collection system each year.
The report suggested the introduction of the organics services in September 2016 had contributed to the drop.
From September 2016 to June 2017, 9644 tonnes of organic material was collected from 38,011 properties.
City of Greater Bendigo manager strategy Trevor Budge admitted the carbon target was ambitious but necessary.
“We can't be advocating and cajoling other people to improve their environmental performance if were not prepared to do it ourselves,” he said.
Some of the older council buildings were not designed to reduce emissions, he said, adding the council had to look at sustainable building designs going forward.
The Gurri Wanyarra Wellbeing Centre was a classic example of the conflict between sustainability and cost, Mr Budge said.
The roof of the centre was not designed to hold solar panels.
The council were considering building a heavier, more expensive roof to hold the panels, but during that time lighter solar panels had been created, which will be placed atop the building.
“Things are changing, technology is advancing at such a rapid rate – the goalposts have shifted,” he said.
Waste was the main area the council would look to make gains in emissions reductions in the future, Mr Budge said.
Bendigo council environmental activities report 2016-17