The most populous city in Australia is eager to become a world leader in environmental action. Sydney, Australia has created a city program, “Sustainable Sydney 2030,” that aims to improve living, improve the environment, build a thriving economy, support art and culture, and get people connected within the community and the world. It has big goals and too many to name, but the strong commitment from city leaders and community members has made the 2030 program into a success only five years over. Here are some of the ways Sydney’s 2030 program has already benefited the environment and looks to improve the city’s conditions well before the deadline.
One of the biggest priorities of Sustainable Sydney 2030 is reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. The city has set the ambitious goal of reducing its emissions by 70% from its levels in 2006. Its $18 million investment into this objective has put Sydney well on its way to reaching this goal, as it is set to halve its emissions by 2012. The installation of 1,200 solar parking meters has saved 1.4 tons of greenhouse gases per year, and energy-efficient LED street lights will improve energy efficiency by 50 percent. The city already has $12 million set aside for further investment in renewable energy for the next 5 years.
Electricity and infrastructure
At the start of the program, coal-powered electricity was responsible for 80% of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. To lower this figure, Sydney has implemented a trigeneration energy network so it can create low carbon electricity, heating, and cooling to buildings in the central business district. It has begun installing photovoltaic solar panels on City buildings as well as solar water heating, and it has formed the Sydney Better Buildings Partnership with its major landlords to reduce carbon emissions, energy and water use, and waste in 60% of the city’s commercial office space.
The population of Sydney creates 40,000 tons of waste each year. Thanks to the 2030 program, all of this waste is now collected and diverted into alternative waste treatment facilities for recycling, where up to 70% of it can be recycled or used for energy generation or high-grade compost. Renewable gases are also collected at these treatment facilities for further use in the city’s new energy systems.
Water conservation and reuse
The 2030 program seeks to reduce the city’s water use by 25% from 2006 levels and provide half of the water supply from a city-wide recycled water network. To date, 49 water harvesting and recycling systems have already been built, and enough water has been saved to fill 142 Olympic swimming pools. According to the city’s research, only 10% of the city’s water of drinking quality is drunk or used for cooking purposes. In light of this, the city moved to reduce other uses of this water supply and distribute from its water recycling network a water supply for non-drinking purposes such as toilets, air conditioning, irrigation, and other purposes.
To make Sydney a more attractive and enjoyable city, its program aims to increase its green space so that it has 24 square meters per resident. It also plans to increase its urban canopy by 50% and plant 20,000 new trees. There have been 30 rainwater tanks installed thus far to provide water for the city’s green spaces, and its plan to use raingardens should reduce pollutants by 50% in waterways while also introducing stormwater harvesting.
Widespread public transportation is a major goal in Sydney, and its popularity happens to be growing while transit by car is lessening. Light rail and buses are becoming more widely used as well as car sharing and zero-emissions bicycling and walking. In fact, Sydney is making citywide efforts to encourage bicycling with its goal of 10% of all trips being made by bicycle by 2016. Apparently it’s working, because the most recent year has shown transportation by bicycle to increase by up to 60% at peak travel hours. Bicycle routes are being upgraded and extended to connect major destinations and areas beyond the city.
The city of Sydney set out with a mission and it has become a reality in change for environmental sustainability. There were several goals for this project: stabilizing emissions, reducing use and demands for energy, water, and wasteful resources, ensured energy security, and the ability to cope with rising sea levels and increased flooding. To make this happen, the city leaders began the program and got the community involved. Initial consultation involved more than 12,000 people, major community workshops, public exhibitions, and forums with indigenous communities. The city currently holds 50 public conversations per year and continues consultations with residents and business owners regarding any issues with the objectives. The program has found success because the whole city is not only involved, but they area also willing and motivated to make their city sustainable and successful.
Sydney, Australia is setting a worldwide example for sustainable innovations and environmental awareness. Its program has already found success in its vision to be “Green, Global, and Connected.” It has become green by lessening its impacts on the environment and increasing green spaces and vegetation. It has become global with its growing economy, global knowledge exchange, and its open-minded, global outlook and attitude. It has become connected by getting the people involved, creating a sense of belonging, well-being, and equality, and by making an accessible city that encourages communication between its government and its people. Sydney is at the forefront of sustainability efforts worldwide, and it makes a great place to visit during a lifetime.