Recent research has highlighted just how serious the issue of global warming is and what kind of world our children and grandchildren will inherit. It is imperative that we all act now to reduce emissions.
While most governments have been slow, many businesses are already doing their part. The CitySwitch program, co-founded by the City of Sydney, has helped some of Australia's largest commercial property owners and builders reduce their impact on the environment.
On Monday night I presented DEXUS Property Group and Buildcorp with the 2012 CitySwitch Green Office Awards at a ceremony at Customs House.
These two companies stood out in a crowd of more than 473 tenancies who are taking part in CitySwitch.
DEXUS, at 343 George Street, Sydney, increased its office's energy-efficiency rating (NABERS) for 2011-12 from to 4.0 stars to 4.5 stars. It reduced its electricity use by 17 per cent, saving $15,500 a year and reducing carbon pollution by 70 tonnes.
Energy-efficiency measures included investing in software to reduce the number of computers left on after hours, better air-conditioning controls and a program that enables staff to halve how much they print.
Buildcorp installed a 21-kilowatt solar panel system on the roof of its office building in Mallet Street, Camperdown, and installed motion-sensor lighting, which greatly reduces energy consumption. It has reduced its electricity use by 5,580 kWh, saving $1,250 a year in power bills and 27.8 tonnes of carbon emissions.
CitySwitch is Australia's flagship office energy-efficiency program, with members accounting for nearly two million square metres of commercial office space. It began in Sydney in 2005 and became a national program in 2008.
There has been particularly strong growth in NSW this year, with 157 tenancies now signed-up covering a total of 969,600 square metres of office space - 21 per cent more than last year.
As a founding member of CitySwitch, the City of Sydney is also working to improve the energy and water efficiency of our own buildings. We have already done work in Sydney Town Hall, Customs House and many of our libraries, pools, parks and depots.
The retrofit will cut electricity use by about 6.4 million kilowatt hours (kWh) a year, enough to supply about 870 households a year, and save an estimated $880,000 a year in power bills.
The City of Sydney is Australia's first officially certified carbon neutral government. The City's 2030 target to reduce carbon pollution by 70 per cent is one of the most ambitious targets of any Australian government.