Human activities were seen as the major proponent for climate change. Based on the 2007 report published by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): The increase in greenhouse gas emission for the past 5 decades is attributed to human activities. Australia is vulnerable to climate change as it’s exposed to drought, extreme heat, and severe weather events.
While Australian Governments at all levels have taken steps to address climate change, Local Governments have a unique opportunity to implement sustainability initiatives at the community level.
Although some Councils have taken early initiatives in starting their sustainability journeys and have already developed action plans, conducted climate change risk assessments, and have even implemented renewable energy projects and other carbon reduction measures, not all Local Government Areas (LGAs) have a sustainability plan – or if they have a plan, they have yet to implement energy conservation measures to achieve their targets.
Now, if you or your Council is only starting to implement its own sustainability initiatives, it’s okay to feel overwhelmed with the sheer amount of planning and effort involved to achieve ambitious targets such as Carbon Neutrality or Net Zero Emissions.
The Struggle is Real
“Creating a low-carbon economy over the next 30 years is going to be one of the greatest challenges ever faced by the human race.” – Michael Hayes of KPMG
Yes, the struggle to real when it comes to meeting Net Zero-emission goals. If your Council is starting out on its journey then it’s normal to experience the following:
- You know you have to tackle climate change but don’t know how to effectively address the issue.
- Feeling confused or de-moralised by the lack of clarity and direction, i.e., not having a clearly defined sustainability action plan, or lacking details on how the plan will achieve established targets.
- Feeling overwhelmed by not knowing where to start or what kind of projects your council needs to implement.
- Frustated that you don’t have access or visibility of detailed statistics and benchmarked data of your Council’s carbon emissions – both at the portfolio level and for each site or facility.
- Frustrated that you’re unable to obtain sufficient budget approval to invest in new and unproven initiatives.
At Ecosave, we understand how sustainability managers in LGAs feel, and yet it doesn’t have to be this way. Challenges have solutions and a logical approach is the best way to address complex issues, such as the above-mentioned.
Three practical ways for Local Councils to Kick-start their Sustainability Journey
As the ancient Chinese proverb states: “A Journey of a Thousand Miles, begins with a single step” – in this article, we offer three practical steps you can take to kick-start your sustainability journey for your Council.
Measure and Establish Benchmarks
The Father of Management Thinking, Peter Ferdinand Drucker, once said:
You cannot manage what you do not measure.
Measuring and establishing benchmarks are key to not only starting your Council’s sustainability journey, but also effectively manage activities and intitatives in support of a higher target or goal.
The best place to start is by measuring your current energy usage patterns and emissions profile and establishing key performance indicators (KPIs). Following measurement, next task is to establish Key Performance Objectives (KPOs) – ideally mapped out as milestones along the sustainability journey towards a larger goal or destination (e.g. Net Zero by 2030 or 2050).
Finding the right Energy Specialists and implementing Energy Management & Carbon Reporting tools will enable you to not only define where you are right now, but also give you the tools to effectively monitor and track the KPIs you’ve established in relation to various KPOs and of course, your ultimate sustainability goal.
Ecosave’s team of Sustainability Analysts utilise leading-edge software (Ecosave Watch) which can efficiently measure your Council’s energy usage in near real-time. Our team of specialists and software can:
- Consolidate various streams of data sources into insights and actionable intelligence (Transform “Big Data” into “Smart Data”).
- Benchmark current carbon emissions profile and energy performance
- Monitor and track sustainability KPIs to help you better manage your Council’s sustainability performance
Leverage Expert Analysis to Determine a Minimal Viable Project (MVP)
You will be hard-pressed to achieve your sustainability goals if you will only rely on measuring and benchmarking alone as understanding your data is only one (yet essential) component of your sustainability journey. The next step is to leverage the advice and recommendations of experts who can help you determine the most viable place to start your journey in terms of specific measures that are proven to reduce carbon emissions and generate a healthy return on investment.
For Councils that are new or starting their journey, it’s generally considered best practice to focus on developing and implementing a Minimal Viable Project (MVP) first, where extensive conservation measures are implemented at one location (or at locations that are representative of your entire portfolio), rather than trying to upgrade your entire portfolio from the get-go.
Since one of your goals is to identify which projects are viable in your Council, it is highly recommended that you engage a specialist Energy Advisor to conduct a portfolio analysis who may conduct site assessments or audits as well as analyse various data sourced from energy utility bills and the like.
A quality specialist advisor should be able to quickly identify and categorise buildings/facilities/locations based on relative energy consumption and carbon emissions as well as by various energy conservation measures based on return on investment potential (both in terms of environmental and cost savings). The outcome of this activity and engagement is typically a report on recommended conservation measures – including a costed MVP – as well as a roadmap of subsequent projects with estimated costs and return on investment projections.
Partner with Ecosave’s team of experts to help you identify and implement an MVP model tailored to your Council – click here to Connect with Ecosave to develop your MVP strategy
Implementing a Minimal Viable Project and Replicate Its Success Across the Entire Council
The final step in kick-starting your sustainability journey is to combine steps 1 and 2.
Partnering with a specialist firm to design and implement an MVP in step 2 will not only serve to establish a proven model that can be replicated across the Council (quickly), but it will also help determine the budgetary requirements to implement portfolio-wide upgrades at a larger scale.
If the first step of Measurement and Benchmarking was implemented effectively, you will also be able to measure and report on the success of both the MVP and subsequent projects. Measuring baseline energy usage is critical in implementing a successful project, especially if you’re results-oriented and looking to achieve certain KPOs or targets.
Successful Minimal Viable Projects can be easily replicated if the first two steps are followed and met. Partnering with net zero specialists, such as Ecosave, will save you time and money developing strategies for your sustainability journey.
When you implement an MVP, make sure that your Energy Savings or Net Zero Partner provides a performance or savings guarantee to ensure outcomes are achieved and that success can be replicated across the portfolio with minimal risks and maximum benefits.
To learn more about Ecosave’s experience in implementing portfolio-wide upgrades in Councils and our Savings Gaurantee, click here to connect with Ecosave.
Zero debt project funding solutions for Councils
We understand that COVID-19 and the economic recession has placed a huge burden on ratepayers which has in turn impacted Local Councils abililty to fund their sustainabilty ambitions. If there’s a will, there’s always way. At Ecosave, we specialise in project funding solutions through Energy as a Service / Net Zero as Service Agreements. To find out more, register your interest here.
Partner with Ecosave to Kick-Start Your Sustainability Journey
Need expert advice and assistance to either begin or kickstart your sustainability journey? Ecosave has helped dozens of local government councils across Australia design and implement innovative sustainability measures and achieve their sustainability targets. We have a team of specialist advisors, Net Zero experts, solution architects and project engineers who are experienced in working with local council environments and facilities. We specialise in end-to-end solutions for Councils who are beginning their journey as well as those Councils who are more advanced and looking for what’s next to support them in the race to Net Zero.