Green Cities 2013 Welcome

(9am, Wednesday 6 March 2013, Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre)

Thank you, [Robert Whitehead, MC]. Good morning, everyone. I'd like firstly to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the people of 200 nations who live in our City.

I'd also like to acknowledge the Green Building Council and the Property Council of Australia who have jointly hosted this event for the past seven years, and to welcome everyone here today.

The City continues to be a long-term supporter of this conference. Ensuring our cities are sustainable and liveable is our most important task if we are to inhabit a sustainable planet.

The world's cities cover only 2 per cent of the earth's land surface, but they house well over half the world's population, and generate 75 per cent of the world's greenhouse emissions.

So creating sustainable cities is the essential first step towards a sustainable planet.

Since 2004, this has been our chief concern at the City: to ensure Sydney's future by shaping it as a sustainable city. Every one of our ambitions for Sydney - that it is prosperous, liveable, equitable, lively and beautiful - can continue to be fulfilled only if it is first sustainable.

We began work on that process shortly after I was elected in 2004, and we are continuing to implement and refine Sustainable Sydney 2030.

The targets we've set ourselves for 2030 include:

  • Reducing greenhouse emissions by 70 per cent
  • Supplying 100 per cent of our energy from local sources, with 30 per cent from renewable sources
  • Reducing potable water use by 10 per cent

It quickly became obvious to us that no single initiative would get us to those targets, and we would need to develop a range of solutions.

So we began with retrofitting as a simple, cost-effective solution which could be quickly implemented.

We awarded a major tender to Origin Energy to retrofit 45 of our major buildings with energy and water saving measures, this work is well on its way. This will reduce greenhouse emissions by 23 per cent a year, and water consumption by over 53,000 kl.

We've also installed LED lights across the city, with the aim of replacing over 6,000 conventional lights, saving almost $800,000 a year in electricity bills and maintenance costs.

Our Green Infrastructure Plan is based on an integrated approach to energy, water and waste, enabling by-products of one process to be use in another. It includes master plans for Trigeneration, Renewable Energy, Advanced Waste Treatment and Decentralised Water.

While trigeneration has helped single developments like the outstanding Number 1 Bligh Street to a six-green star rating, our modelling showed us that trigen hubs serving buildings in a precinct would be more effective than a building-by-building rollout.

If achievable we would like for example to see a hub as part of the massive Green Square urban renewal.

We were heartened by the Federal Government's support under the Liveable Cities Program which has contributed $8.75 million towards these projects.

We're also looking to renewable sources to provide 30 per cent of our electricity by 2030, including solar electric panels and hot water, onshore and offshore wind turbines and geothermal and renewable gases.

We have greened our own operations and those of the city as whole, by reducing, recycling and exploring new ways of doing things and we've formed productive alliances such as our Better Buildings Partnership with Sydney's 14 major commercial landowners.

This is helping cut carbon pollution and save energy, water and waste in 60 per cent of the commercial office buildings in the inner city.

We've also created Environmental Upgrade Agreements to give building owners a new way to pay for energy and water-saving improvements, sharing the costs with the tenants who benefit.

No-one solution is right for every city, or every building but those solutions are out there, and we need to work together, to find them and I wish you a productive Conference.