This Response to the Boroondara Low Carbon Strategy document was written and submitted by David Coote, from the Eastern Suburbs Permaculture Group.
a/ Nothing in the strategy detailing what is best practice in this area for local government in Australia and overseas and how the Boroondara strategy compares to best practice. A number of councils in Australia are aiming for cuts of 60% in emissions and some even aiming for zero carbon.
b/ Strategy to list all available grant, rebate etc schemes Council could tap into to defray costs of any proposed measures and if these funding sources are not being used why not.
c/ Strategy to list how gas and electricity are used across each council property and what potential exists at each site for:
- i/ energy efficiency: proposed measures; reduction in required energy; reduction in emissions; indicative cost. This should cover as a minimum energy efficient appliances and IT, energy efficient office and street lighting, natural lighting where possible, insulation, weather-proofing, double glazing in some situations etc
- ii/ Hot water: Potential to use solar hot-water and/or combined heat and power to supply the hot-water (used for process heat, if any, heating, washing, showers etc) ; reduction in gas and electricity; reduction in emissions; indicative cost.
- iii/ Heating. Potential to displace gas or electricity heating required from CHP and/or solar.
- iv/ Residual electricity required after above measures: Potential to use PV's and/or combined heat and power to supply the electricity needed; reduction in emissions; indicative cost.
d/ The current proposals within the strategy are worthy but nowhere near pushing the envelope. Some appraisal of a few more adventurous ideas would be worthwhile. As a suggestion:
- i/ Solar-powered street lighting. As well as saving energy this promotes local resilience through decoupling from the grid. After a number of the hurricanes in America over the last decade or so solar-powered lighting has provided residents with very useful night-time lighting. After Hurricane Andrew many residents used solar-powered lighting to illuminate cooking on barbecues etc
- ii/ Production of ethanol/methanol by fermenting and distilling food waste from local supermarkets and use of the ethanol/methanol in alcohol fuel-cells. The price of alcohol fuel cells has come down dramatically in the last few years. No reason why Council shouldn't have a few kW of alcohol fuel cells on a demonstration site. Perhaps the Eco-Centre?
- iii/ Converting a number of council vehicles to run on 85% ethanol or purchasing new E85 vehicles as vehicles reach end of service life. E85 is available commercially or use ethanol to be produced by Council as discussed above.
- iv/ Council to purchase hybrid vehicles and perhaps a few electric vehicles. If council is producing its own power from cogen plants, PV's etc this drastically reduces the net emissions of running EV's.
- v/ Wind-turbines along the south-eastern freeway. I should say that I don't know how good the wind regime is along the freeway.
- vi/ Biomass powered thermal heating and cogeneration using waste biomass from within Boroondara.
- vii/ Possibility of joint cogeneration in the Camberwell junction area with the electricity and heat powering and heating council properties, commercial premises, police station, residences etc
Suggestions from Julia Thornton
Tighten up on the target emissions. 2006 is not a very aspirational baseline year.
Council to investigate how to set up local area energy grids including looking at legislative impediments.
Allow residents to divert stormwater to water gardens or nature strips.
Develop policy that makes tree retention on private property a net benefit.
Suggestions from Fiona Armstrong
An excellent overview – this would make a great framework for a submission to the strategy. It is clearly another huge missed opportunity.
Many of these issues could be better addressed if the Boroondara Council would commit, as Moreland and Yarra have done, to establishing a Boroondara Energy Foundation which could help the Council and the community reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
This could this also be included in a submission as a key “ask”.