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Case studies

Featured projects:

Port Macquarie-Hastings Council Long Term Sustainable Energy Options

Sustainable Business Consulting was engaged by Port Macquarie-Hastings Council in January 2016 for the development of Council’s long term sustainable energy plan for Council’s operations.

Key components of the project included:

* Providing Council with contextual information that can influence future directions and targets for Council. This includes collating global, national, regional and local responses to abatement and renewable energy needs.* 25% renewable energy by 2020
* Assessing Council’s energy use and emissions across all stationary energy forms and covering all of council’s assets, including water & sewer systems, buildings, recreation facilities, street lighting, airport facilities and emergency response facilities. This includes projecting energy demand and emissions (BAU-basis) to 2030.
* Identifying and evaluating options for abatement across all assets and on Council land through site technical inspections and engagement at multiple levels across Council. Options include LED street lighting, motor system efficiencies, HVAC improvements, IT and appliance procurement, rooftop solar PV, solar hot water, mid-scale renewable energy generation (i.e. 1MW to 10MW) on Council-owned land (or water).

Key guiding parameters supplied by Council at the outset of the work included that the long-term sustainable energy options should:

* focus on the future financial sustainability of Council
* reference similar and leading organisations (public and private)
* identify future potential partnerships that may be available to Council in the development of energy initiatives
* identify short, medium and long-term objectives/initiatives that Council could pursue in its upcoming Delivery Program to achieve components of the long-term energy strategy i.e. a roadmap

Key outcomes included the development of recommended short, medium and long terms plans across all abatement opportunity areas, as well as the presentation of findings to Council management as PowerPoint and Word report, and provision of all Excel workings to Council to aid with future work.

Coffs Harbour Renewable Energy and Emission Reduction Plan

On 18 December 2014 Coffs Harbour City Council adopted a 100% renewable energy target as per Council resolution 372.  Sustainable Business Consulting (SBC) was engaged to develop a Renewable Energy and Emission Reduction Plan (REERP) for Coffs Harbour Council that would develop pathways to achieving this target.

The development of the REERP formed part of a clearly defined Council framework for monitoring, reviewing and reporting on Council’s emissions. Council provisionally adopted the following goals:

* 25% corporate emissions reduction by 202025% renewable energy by 2020
* 25% renewable energy by 2020
* 25% renewable energy by 2020
* 50% corporate emissions reduction by 2025
* 50% renewable energy by 2025
* 100% renewable energy by 2030

Our work involved the preparation of a corporate emissions reduction plan outlining actions to be undertaken by Council to achieve the adopted emission reduction targets. The REERP identified and prioritised areas that would yield the largest emission reductions per unit cost. The REERP was underpinned by analysis of Council’s energy use and carbon emissions data, stakeholder engagement workshops and one-on-one meetings, extensive site visits, Councillor and Mayoral briefings, and consultation with various industry stakeholders including retailers, networks, solar PV suppliers, CSIRO, finance organisations and others.

Following adoption of the REERP by Council, which is expected in early 2016, the next stage will be about the implementation of the actions that were identified in the REERP, from energy efficiency in Council facilities, upgrading streetlighting, rooftop solar PV, waste-to-energy, and potentially large-scale solar PV on Council land or via agreement with a regional renewable energy project developer.

The major deliverables for the REERP included:

* Evaluated and costed plan for 2020 (FY2020) which includes streetlighting and ‚behind-the-meter’ PV within Council’s facilities,
* FY2025 plan for energy efficiency and renewable energy generation on Council facilities and land, and
* FY2030 plan for renewable energy developments that will see Council reach its 100% goal

Upskilling an Inner West Council to insource the NCOS application in house

We have upskilled an Inner West Council to effectively complete the annual NCOS application in house. We worked with the nominated staff member to complete the NCOS reporting to the standard required to achieve carbon neutral certification on an annual basis. We facilitated the learning of the staff member, including enhancing their ability to identify and meet any challenges in completing the required reports.

A key deliverable of this project was a report that details the NCOS application writing process, including key learnings as well as any feedback provided to Council in preparing the NCOS application. The process was clearly and comprehensively documented so that any new staff member joining the organisation could replicate the process to the level required by NCOS for certification.

The key outcome was a report that details everything about the NCOS application process, including how greenhouse gases will be monitored and reported, the records required, the process for establishing and maintaining these records as well as how to control data quality.
Council is now able to repeat the NCOS process every year without external assistance.

Performing sustainability assessments for small businesses

In 2012, Leichhardt Council started the SMART program which was aimed at improving the environmental performance of businesses in the Local Government area. Specifically, the program wanted to help businesses with:

* Reducing water use
* Reducing energy use
* Reducing waste generated and waste going to landfill
* Reducing operating costs

In 2015, SBC was tasked with recruiting new businesses to the program and with conducting sustainability assessments for them. We were able to recruit 26 additional businesses in less than a month and over the next three months assessed these organisations across 35 resource areas (energy, water, waste). Businesses that joined the program were childcare centres, cafés, hotels and retail stores. 20 out of 26 business owners indicated that energy was of the greatest interest and wanted the sustainability assessment to focus on this resource.

For the sustainability assessments, we used SBC’s in-house developed Sustainability Assessment tool, which specifically focuses on improving the sustainability with SMEs.

Across all the organisations, our assessments identified the following resource and $ savings:

* Total average annual $ savings per SMART business: $4,592
* Total annual $ savings identified across all businesses: $119,394
* Total annual electricity savings across all businesses: 372,912 kWh
* Total annual water savings across all businesses: 1,169kL
* Total annual cubic metres of waste diverted from landfill across all businesses: 473m3

These results show that by undertaking a proper sustainability assessment, the average SME can save about $4,600 per year. If all recommendations to conserve energy were implemented, the emission of 358 tonnes of carbon emissions would be avoided. The total annual kL savings that were identified equal half the size of an Olympic swimming pool. These are great sustainability outcomes that are good for the environment and help businesses increase their bottom line.

The recommendations included savings on utility and waste tariffs, as well as reduced energy consumption through efficiency upgrades and the optimisation of current equipment. Additional benefits were savings in water use through upgrades, the installation of tap flow restrictors, the use of rainwater for toilets, as well as the diversion of waste to landfill through improved recycling.

As a result of the project, the participating businesses have now got an increased awareness about environmental and sustainability issues. They have also benefitted from being featured on Council’s web page, which has enhanced their reputation in the market and potentially helped with customer retention and acquisition. Knock-on benefits for Leichhardt Municipal Council are indirect economic benefits due to the increased financial bottom line of the businesses in the LGA, and an increase in the reputation of Council as a provider of quality services.

SBC was also tasked with evaluating the overall SMART program outcomes, which included the assessments that had taken place before we were engaged by Council. The feedback from program participants was positive with the majority stating that the SMART process was excellent, that they are now ‘highly aware’ of sustainability opportunities for their businesses and that they would recommend the program to others. Businesses also valued the advice and practical solutions provided by the assessors to help them save money and achieve sustainable outcomes. Comments about the assessments provided under the SMART program included:

* “they were extremely beneficial in raising awareness about sustainability opportunities”
* “they helped us understand where consumption occurred and where to prioritise efforts”
* “the process was easy and reports very detailed and would like to recommend the program to other businesses they know who are interested”
* “the assessment was the springboard to exploring other sustainability opportunities”

Renewable Energy Master Plan for Lismore Council

Lismore City Council set itself the target to generate 100% of its electricity needs from renewable energy sources by 2023. This arose from the Imagine Lismore process, through which the community’s vision for Council as a model of sustainability was articulated.

Sustainable Business Consulting developed the Renewable Energy Master Plan (REMP) and associated action plan by analysing Council’s electricity consumption, undertaking site energy audits, and by analysing energy efficiency and the renewable energy potential. We consulted extensively with stakeholders through one-on-one meetings and a number of workshops. Council’s preferred technologies were analysed in depth and presented to stakeholders, leading to the selection and development of seven energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions that will underpin the achievement of the 100% self-generation target.

Reaching the goal of 100% self-generation will be delivered in two stages. In phase 1, a range of energy efficiency and ‘behind-the-meter’ solar PV systems will be implemented to deliver a significant part of the target. The second stage of works is a bigger and more ambitious undertaking, involving the implementation of large scale solar energy generation, augmented by solar PV storage and virtual net metering solutions as these become available and commercially viable.

So that the REMP could be implemented easily within Council, we also developed an energy action plan, which will facilitate the planning and implementation of the REMP annually during the target period. The action plan will ensure that budgets and resources are available for implementation and will support the communication of the REMP to the community and Council.

Energy audit of Leichhardt Council’s Aquatic Centre

submetering small

A Level 2 Energy Audit in accordance with AS/NZS 3598:2000 was conducted during 2015 at the Leichhardt Park Aquatic Centre. The centre is Council’s single largest energy consumer (apart from street lighting owned by Ausgrid).

The energy audit followed a systematic approach with data analysis and sub-metering of major energy using areas and equipment underpinning the development of an accurate breakdown of energy use at the facility.

Drawing on this information as well as an assessment of the existing equipment and controls at LPAC it was possible to identify areas where energy efficiency can be improved. It was also possible to highlight, and quantify some of the benefits Council has previously made with energy efficiency, renewable energy and low-carbon energy generation at the site. For example cogeneration, solar hot water and heat pumps have all led to significant improvements in efficiency and carbon emissions reduction.

The audit drew on supplier inputs, technology research and the audit results to make practical and costed recommendations for further energy efficiency improvements at LPAC. These, allied to past improvements as well as Council’s ongoing upgrades to facilities and implementation of renewable energy at the site, will see LPAC contribute positively towards council’s ongoing energy and carbon management efforts.

Hornsby Council Energy Management Support

Hornsby Council staff attended Sustainable Business Consulting’s energy management training and requested consulting support with their energy needs. Specifically, we provided help in the following areas:

  • Influenced the selection of new HVAC plant so energy efficiency is maximised
  • Reviewed alternatives for a HVAC installation that are energy efficient and cost effective
  • Reviewed the Voltage Reduction unit and gave recommendations
  • Analysed the interval information and the energy usage at Council sites
  • Established needs for sub-metering and BMS installations at Council Admin building and at the aquatic centre
  • Documented our findings and advised Council on next steps

Property Sector Survey and appetite for EUAs for Parramatta City Council

The report documents findings based on discussions with the local Parramatta property sector in regards to the current drivers in the Parramatta CBD office building market for building upgrades and the role that Environmental Upgrade Agreement (EUA) finance may have.

The report has been commissioned by Parramatta City Council (PCC) to provide specific feedback on the following key issues:

  • What is the expected appetite for office building upgrades within Parramatta’s CBD
  • What has been the impact of council’s current EUA program to date in stimulating building upgrades
  • What is the potential for the use of EUAs to finance future building upgrades
  • Recommendations for what PCC could do to increase the uptake of EUA finance

The primary source of information for this project was derived through face-to-face interviews with various stakeholders in the commercial building sector. Desktop research was also undertaken, including City Scope data provided by Parramatta City Council. The desktop research provided information about the property market in Parramatta, the drivers for environmental upgrades and background information on EUAs. It was also used to verify comments made during the interview process.

TfNSW compliant GHG reporting for Monorail Removal Project

Sustainable Business Consulting was engaged by Metropolitan Demolitions and Aver to perform the carbon reporting for the Monorail Removal Project, which started in August 2013.

The client, Transport for NSW (TfNSW) mandates that all projects with a capital expenditure exceeding $10m must submit a GHG inventory report. In August 2013 we submitted the initial report, which covered the estimated greenhouse gas emissions for the project per emission source (e.g. cranes, EWPs, diesel generators, compactors, trucks, staff commute, embodied emissions in materials, waste, etc.), and carbon savings that were targeted. The carbon report not only contained scope 1 and scope 2 emission sources, but an extensive set of scope 3 emission sources, which gave a complete picture of the greenhouse gas emissions that were going to be caused by the project. The report also included an uncertainty assessment of the scope 1 emissions.

In May 2014 we submitted the final report, which tracked the actual activity against the projected data and measured whether the sustainability objectives and targets were met through the use of defined greenhouse gas indicators. The report also calculated the net environmental carbon benefits of the recycling efforts, given that more than 95% of the demolition waste was successfully re-used, re-purposed, or recycled. The Greenhouse Gas Inventory report adhered to the following standards and guidelines:

  • TfNSW Greenhouse Gas Inventory Guide for Construction Projects;
  • GHG Protocol, A Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard (GHG Protocol);
  • ISO 14040:2006;
  • ISO 14044:2006;
  • GHG Protocol: Product Life Cycle Accounting and Reporting Standard;
  • GHG Protocol: Corporate Value Chain (Scope 3) Accounting and Reporting Standard.

Climate resilience risk management for Inghams

Sustainable Business Consulting helped Inghams with performing a strategic risk and opportunities assessment across all their operations for climate change. The project enabled Inghams to integrate climate change as a risk in their existing risk management methodology and raised awareness amongst the executive and senior management team about the climate change risks that the organisation faces and how these risks can be managed to alleviate the impact. Ingham’s whole supply chain was mapped to analyse existing vulnerabilities.

We also looked at how various business components like assets, raw materials, people, finance and other areas would be impacted by climate change. The end result was a strategic risk management plan for climate change related risks that is now being implemented in the organisation. The risk management process highlighted that water-related issues are a key area and we have since conducted more detailed operational risk assessments.

Inghams felt that having the process facilitated by an external expert worked well for them.

NCOS accredited carbon neutrality for Oak Flats Bowling and Recreation Club

SBC is the implementation partner for many of Oak Flats Bowling and Recreation Club’s sustainability initiatives and has helped the club become carbon neutral under the Australian Government Scheme NCOS (National Carbon Offset Standard). Oak Flats Bowling and Recreation Club is the first club ever to go carbon neutral. We have helped measure and reduce OFBRC’s carbon footprint since 2011.

Getting a carbon inventory ready for independent verification and getting it through Low Carbon Australia approval requires rigorous data management processes and a good quality control system. We were able to help OFBRC with setting up the necessary processes, making sure that the right data was measured and recorded appropriately with the necessary management systems that surround this. Due to the high quality submission we put in Low Carbon Australia was able to turn our application around in LESS THAN TWO WEEKS, which was unprecedented to this stage.

As part of the NCOS submission package we had to submit the Emissions Management Plan which details energy efficiency measures the club is undertaking. In 2013 the Club acquired the Illawarra Yacht Club which triggered the re-calculation of the Club’s baseline.

EUAs for Penrith City Council – Building Stock Survey and Upgrade Scenarios

Penrith City Council wanted to investigate the feasibility of offering Environmental Upgrade Agreements (EUAs) as a means of encouraging investment in the upgrade of local building stock to improve environmental outcomes and marketability. EUAs involve undertaking work in a commercial or industrial building that results in an environmental improvement and could include renewable energy projects, improved energy or water efficiency, reduced waste and greenhouse gas emissions, recycling, and pollution prevention or reduction. There are over 2000 commercial and industrial buildings in the Penrith LGA, with a range of ownership types.

SBC undertook site inspections and walk through audits, examined and extrapolated data on the LGA’s building stock, conducted interviews with stakeholders, analysed the energy consumption in the LGA and delivered a 90 page report with the following content:

  • analysis of the current commercial and industrial building stock in the Penrith LGA taking into account building and land values;
  • definition of typical building groups;
  • assessment of the likely benefits associated with the application of EUAs;
  • provision of typical upgrade scenarios for each building group to determine the financial and environmental implications of each upgrade scenario for the building owner and tenants;
  • identification of common industrial process equipment that may be suitable for upgrading using an EUA;
  • determination at what value an EUA becomes cost effective for a building owner based on likely interest rate discounts and the fees and charges incurred;
  • benefits of and constraints for EUAs through ‘soft’ costs (legal, application, audit costs, etc.);
  • assessment of the potential benefits of EUAs and other relevant funding support mechanisms (e.g., Energy Saving Certificates) for commercial and industrial building upgrades.

Lismore City Council GHG emissions monitoring and reporting

SBC helped Lismore Council with managing their greenhouse gas emissions monitoring and reporting processes. We held a workshop on site for senior managers that presented the latest information on Climate Change and carbon accounting. We also mapped the current data collection and dissemination processes, and examined existing GHG monitoring at Council. The workshop achieved the following goals:

  • improved understanding of Carbon Accounting and the business case for it;
  • significant improvement in staff knowledge of Councils current monitoring and reporting system;
  • promoted staff engagement;
  • increased the responsibility and collaboration of carbon accounting across Council;
  • improved the interdepartmental communication flows;
  • highlighted areas for improvement.

We also helped the Council with the finalisation of the 10 Year Progress plan to ‘Cities for Climate Protection’ (CCP) Program.

The first workshop was a huge success and Council invited us back a few months later to facilitate a follow-up workshop. We outlined the current data collection processes and mapped an improved collection and dissemination process that involved Council departments, Planet Footprint and external energy suppliers. We also showed how carbon hotspots can be identified and how GHG emissions can be reduced even further. The outcome of this workshop was a detailed action list for improving the existing GHG processes, which assigned responsibilities and due date to Council staff.

Comparative Carbon Life Cycle Assessment for Ecoflex

Ecoflex Australia recycles used tyres into construction material for paving, retaining walls and use in erosion prevention. Ecoflex builds roads applying the conventional method with lots of aggregate, and using the revolutionary method of putting down recycled car tyres. Ecoflex approached Sustainable Business Consulting to perform a comparative Carbon Lifecycle Assessment on the two methods.

The goal of the LCA was to quantify the carbon emissions generated by the two pavement methods and to communicate credible, independently verified information to inform decisions of stakeholders, both internally and externally. We decided to use the construction of 1 km of unsealed access road as the functional unit, and performed all our carbon calculations on this defined unit. Our report concluded that the conventional method is significantly more emissions-intensive than the Ecoflex E-Pave method, primarily due to the amount of aggregate required.





  • Guide to Carbon Neutrality for Business
  • Energy Management Basics