Our sustainable city

20 September 2022

How Melbourne will be powered by 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030 and achieve zero net emissions by 2040.

Cities consume about 75 per cent of the world’s energy. So it makes sense that cities are where the climate crisis can be averted.

Like all cities around the world, Melbourne is facing a host of challenges that call for innovative solutions to ensure we retain our famed liveability.

Chief among those challenges is arguably the greatest challenge of our time – climate change and its impacts on communities.

By 2030, the CSIRO predicts Melbourne will be significantly affected by warmer temperatures and heatwaves, lower rainfall, intense storm events and flash flooding.

By 2070, we are predicted to be experiencing more than double the number of heat waves, an 11 per cent reduction in rainfall and a significant increase in storm events.

These climate changes will have a huge impact on businesses and the community.

The City of Melbourne strives to be a leader in responding to climate change, reducing our carbon footprint, building resilience and increasing urban biodiversity.

We recognise that sustainability, climate change and adaption lie at the heart of our liveability.

Melbourne’s eco-city credentials are strong. We are proud to be a member of the C40 Leadership Group, the 100 Resilient Cities Network, and part of ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability.

Being recognised internationally for our efforts addressing climate change means we also have the great privilege of setting an example for other cities.

Next month Lord Mayor Sally Capp will travel to Buenos Aires, Argentina for the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) World Mayors Summit 2022.

It is the first major climate convention of city leaders since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and precedes COP 27 in Egypt in November.

At this summit, the Lord Mayor will share the City of Melbourne’s biggest and boldest goals to fight climate change.

‘The City of Melbourne will be a city powered by 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030, and reach zero net emissions by 2040,’ the Lord Mayor said.

‘Since declaring a climate and biodiversity emergency in 2019, we’ve worked tirelessly to transition our city to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly place.

‘We are committed to being a global leader on climate action and are delivering emission reduction initiatives that are commensurate with that declaration,’ she said.

Our organisation directly contributes less than 1 per cent of the municipality’s emissions and has limited control to regulate the remaining 99 per cent.

Which is why we’re using our position to influence the community to take action too.

We’re setting the standard in climate action and sustainability in many ways.

Our operations have been certified carbon neutral every year since 2012.

Our major events such as Moomba, Melbourne Fashion Week, Melbourne Music Week and Melbourne Knowledge Week are all  certified carbon neutral. 

In 2015, Council passed a resolution to divest from fossil fuels, and in 2016 we were the first Council, and one of the first organisations internationally, to introduce 1.5C science-based targets for our operations.

Green powered

MREP was an Australian-first

n 2017, the City of Melbourne led the transition away from coal through a 10-year, $200 million renewable energy group purchase agreement.

In an Australian-first, the Melbourne Renewable Energy Project saw a group of local governments, universities and corporations collectively purchase renewable energy. 

We’ve now delivered two energy purchasing agreements, reducing the equivalent of 5 per cent of the city’s emissions – leading Melbourne to be the first capital city council in Australia powered by 100 per cent renewable energy. 

Energy is flowing into the power grid from the wind turbines at the Pacific Hydro wind farm at Crowlands, near Ararat. 

Every light on our streets, every treadmill in our gyms and every barbecue in our parks is now powered by renewable energy.

This model has been replicated across Australia and enabled production of 8GW of renewable energy.

Power Melbourne

We’re building on this success with Power Melbourne. 

Power Melbourne will establish a network of coordinated neighbourhood-scale batteries to deliver more renewable energy into the grid. 

Environment portfolio lead Councillor Rohan Leppert said ‘we’re going big with Power Melbourne’.

‘Delivering at a scale that is large enough to support the grid, participate in energy markets and provide a meaningful benefit to our community,’ Cr Leppert said. 

‘Neighbourhood battery technology is in its infancy in Australia, and we’re proud to be leading the way in creating cleaner energy solutions in Australia with Power Melbourne.’

While good for the environment, it will also make it easier for households and small businesses to access affordable renewable electricity. 

Many residents and businesses in our municipality are locked out of the renewable energy market. Those who rent or live in an apartment are often unable to install solar panels, and we know from market research that selecting an affordable green power option can be difficult. 

Through Power Melbourne we’ll install a network of batteries around the city to create a virtual energy grid. Solar and wind power will charge the batteries, allowing renewable energy to be stored, then released back into the electricity grid when it’s needed most.

‘Not only will Power Melbourne provide access to affordable green energy for tens of thousands of local residents and small businesses, it will also reduce emissions and contribute to a more sustainable future,’ Cr Leppert said.

We’re exploring suitable locations for Power Melbourne batteries on council-owned buildings,  including Queen Victoria Market, Library at the Dock, Kensington Recreation Centre and Council House 2 in the CBD.

We’d like to know what you think about neighbourhood batteries and how we can make it easy to switch your energy bills to a Power Melbourne plan. 

From 26 September to 31 October, have your say at Participate Melbourne.

Zero carbon buildings

More than 60 per cent of emissions in Melbourne come from commercial buildings.

We’ve recently formed a partnership with universities and private businesses to reduce emissions from these buildings.

We’re taking a lead role pursuing more sustainable planning requirements to ensure our neighbourhoods and buildings are built to the highest quality and environmental standards, and aligned to best practice in the Australian industry. 

We’ve introduced planning scheme amendments to ensure new development contributes to achieving our sustainability and green infrastructure goals, and ultimately helps to tackle the climate and biodiversity emergency.

Now we’re supporting the retrofitting and refurbishing older buildings to improve their energy efficiency.

BREATH is an innovative new retrofit project which aims to improve air quality and ventilation within commercial buildings and move the city closer to its goal of zero carbon buildings.

The project pilot tested and evaluated three types of ventilation systems over three months.

It found simple changes to ventilation systems can significantly decrease the transmission of COVID-19 and reduce energy consumption in office buildings. It’s given us the knowledge to predict the best type of retrofit to achieve these aims.

Displacement ventilation air conditioning – which supplies air from floor level – was the most effective and energy efficient system tested, reducing COVID-19 transmission by 83 per cent, while also reducing energy consumption by 20 per cent.

It is the most expensive to install, but there are no additional ongoing maintenance costs.

We’re set to begin consultation with the building industry so we can work together to ensure buildings in our municipality are zero carbon ready by 2040.

The initial phase will focus on commercial buildings, including high rise residential apartments which contain commercial space.

From 4 October, share your thoughts with us at Participate Melbourne.

Zero waste city

We are committed to reducing food waste and diverting it from landfill by implementing food and garden organic waste solutions tailored to different buildings within the municipality.   

We are aiming to increase overall waste diverted from landfill by 50 per cent by 2025.  

More than 22,000 City of Melbourne households use our Food and Garden Organic (FOGO) Service.   

As part of our mission to be a Zero Waste City, we have already diverted more than 1200 tonnes of organic material from landfill – that is the equivalent weight of 46 trams.   

Our waste trucks then picks up the garden waste and takes it to our processing centre.  

Here, it is turned into nutrient-rich compost to be used on Victorian farms and City of Melbourne parks and gardens.  

We continue to roll out Food and Garden Organic service across the municipality – with the service being extended to high-rises next.  

Our FOGO program is aimed at moving towards a more circular economy, where we design out waste wherever possible, and reuse and repair items as a priority. 

Alongside other inner-Melbourne councils we are investigating collaborative options to better manage a number of waste streams, including FOGO, glass recycling and residual waste.  

From 3 October to 27 November, have your say on how we can incentivise waste reduction and encourage recycling, at Participate Melbourne

Cooling our city

We’re greening our city to cool summertime temperatures by 4C by 2040

Through our Urban Forest Strategy and the urban landscapes adaptation program, our goal is to cool summertime temperatures in our city by 4C by 2040.

We’ll achieve this by doubling our tree canopy to 40 per cent and increasing the permeability of our city’s surfaces.

We plant 3000 trees every year to reduce the heat island effect in the city.

And we continue to work with developers to incorporate more green roofs in the CBD and to advocate for more greening in the city.

Our Urban Forest Fund provides financial support to new greening projects that otherwise would not be funded.

They could be green roofs, tree planting, green facades or landscaped spaces.

We’ll soon announce the latest Urban Forest Fund grant recipients to create a greener, more sustainable city.

‘City greening projects like these are essential to adapting our city to a changing climate, supporting its continual transformation into a thriving urban forest,’ Cr Leppert said. 

‘Together, these projects will increase our climate resilience by improving biodiversity and canopy cover, reducing air pollution and mitigating impacts of the urban heat island effect.’

Greenline to be a cool route 

The Greenline Project will create a dedicated Cool Route through the city

While we work to cool the city, we’re also exploring new ways people can keep cool when moving about the city.

We’ve developed Cool Routes to enable users to plot thermally comfortable journeys walking and cycling journeys across the municipality.

Cool Routes takes into account the time of day, the city architecture and surrounds to give users not necessarily the fastest route, but the route best protected from the sun and heat.

The Greenline Project will transform the northern bank of our city’s waterway, delivering a continuous four-kilometre promenade of parks and public space. It will become a designated cool route. 

The project will return areas of harsh concrete to its natural riverbank state, improving the flora and fauna of our river and increasing canopy cover by 40 per cent along the north bank.   

Not only will it deliver a $60 million benefit from protecting and enhancing the environment but it will also decrease discharge to improve water quality, improve soil quality and enhance greening, and establish ecological corridor for habitats.

To learn more about what City of Melbourne is doing to ensure a sustainable future for our city and have your say, visit Participate Melbourne.

To keep up-to-date with our latest environmental initiatives, subscribe to our Green Leaflet newsletter.

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