Local climate change heroes recognised at awards

From Australia’s first carbon-neutral kindergarten to a unique carbon fund, Australia’s local climate champions have been applauded.

Councils leading the charge against climate change were on Thursday recognised at the Cities Power Partnership Awards in Sydney, which boasted a record number of entries.

The awards recognise the work of local councils in promoting renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable transport, community engagement and project funding.

The City of Port Phillip, the ACT Government, Blue Mountains, Newcastle and Noosa councils were all recognised for their efforts to  combat global rising temperatures with innovative green initiatives.

The ‘Butterfly that changed the world’

Australia’s first carbon-neutral kindergarten was one project to receive national acclaim at the awards yesterday.

The project, a joint partnership between the City of Port Philip and Albert Park Kindergarten, saw a local kindergarten partner with the council over a six year period to completely eradicate its carbon footprint.

The kindergarten worked with council to install solar panels, decrease water use by 64 per cent, electricity use by 24 per cent, gas use by 76 per cent and waste by 75 per cent.

‘The Butterfly Effect’ installation

In acknowledgement of the traditional custodians of the land, the kindergarten made a promise to Bunjil, a creator deity, to take care of the children and land – an ethos which underpinned the schools’ commitment.

The kindergarten’s entry, titled ‘The Butterfly Effect’ is an art installation of dozens of handcrafted butterflies made from hessian and non-toxic paint, documenting their journey towards sustainability.

The initiative was awarded Community Engagement Project of the Year.

“Every part of the Australian community has an important role to play in tackling climate change, and The Butterfly Project shows how a partnership with City of Port Phillip helped a little childcare centre realise their ambitious goal to reduce their climate impact,” said David Craven, director of the Cities Power Partnership.

Another entry, a Carbon Revolving Reserve project from the Blue Mountains in Sydney took out the top gong for Project Financing Innovation.

The project saw council develop a long-term self-sustaining funding source to help council plan long-term for energy efficiency.

The pool of funds have helped council fund energy efficient LED lighting upgrades and the installation of 290 kilowatt rooftop solar at five sites.

Blue Mountains Mayor Mark Greenhill said the reserve has enabled Council to shift its carbon reduction commitment from a 20 per cent to 30 per cent.

Smart Moves 

Newcastle Council also took out a gong , recognised for its data-powered green infrastructure project.

The Smart Moves project has seen Council partner with transport operators and other partners across the city to install digital data sensors for key insights into the city’s operations.

The initiative took out the Sustainable Transport Achievement Award.

The project is about using data to enable council to better inform key infrastructure projects while also keeping citizens up to scratch on public transport.

The information is also set to inform the installation of smart lighting, environmental sensors and an electric bike share network.

L to R, Council’s Waste and Sustainability Team, Jo-Anne Allan, Rebecca Tempest and Rob Morrison, Blue Mountains deputy mayor Chris Van der Kley, Culture and Community Services director Kirrilly Twomey and Councillor Brent Hoare

Other winners include:

  • Renewable Energy Achievement Award

Winner: Next Gen Energy Storage Program, ACT Government

  • Energy Efficiency Achievement

Winner: Energy Efficiency Improvement Scheme, ACT Government

  • Ambassador Award (elected representative)

Winner: Cr Tony Wellington, Mayor of Noosa Shire Council

  • Climate Champion Award (council staff)

Winner: Adam Clarke, Program Coordinator, City Innovation and Sustainability, City of Newcastle

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