Keep Australia Beautiful NSW Office Opening

(5.30pm, Wednesday 31 July 2013, 270 King Street Newtown)

Thank you, David [Imrie, KAB]. Good evening, everyone. Welcome to the new Keep Australia Beautiful headquarters. 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 want to take this opportunity of congratulating everyone at Keep Australia Beautiful for the fantastic work that you do - to keep our city, our state and all of Australia not only beautiful, but sustainable as well.

Since 1981, you've been running the Tidy Towns Sustainable Communities program, looking to preserve the environmental, cultural and heritage qualities of our towns. Your anti-littering campaigns have a high profile - and I hope you saw the City's fabulous "Yuk" installation in Hyde Park, alerting people to the many thousands of cigarette butts dropped across the City each week.

You also run campaigns for clean beaches and waterways, and the EnviroMentors education program. And of course your Sustainable Cities program is designed to inspire city communities to work together and with government and business to make a lasting contribution to a healthier, more sustainable environment.

I'm happy that the City of Sydney has now featured twice in those awards as we have been working steadily since 2004 to create a city that is liveable, beautiful and sustainable, a city that people want to live and work in, and to visit.

We engaged the entire Sydney community - workers, businesses, residents and even visitors - in a conversation about our City's future. Overwhelmingly, people told us they wanted action on climate change, they wanted a global city that was also engaging and liveable and one with a strong sense of community.

We summed up those aspirations in the words Green, Global and Connected.

We set ourselves a series of ambitious, but achievable, goals to reduce our carbon footprint and to green the City.

Our target is to reduce emissions across our own operations and across the City by 70 per cent of 2006 levels by 2030. We rigorously measure our progress, and I'm happy to say we're getting close to our interim target of 20 per cent for own operations by 2016.

We've made these savings through energy efficiency retrofits, Australia's largest building-based solar photo-voltaic system now installed, and our roll-out of LED street lighting. This last step will save us almost $800,000 a year in electricity bills and maintenance while reducing emissions from City-owned lights by 51 per cent. So the $7 million cost of the project will pay for itself within a decade.

We've refitted 45 of our major buildings for energy and water-saving to meet our 20 per cent reduction target, which puts us well on track to our ultimate goal of 70 per cent by 2030.

As well as bringing us improved NABERS ratings for our commercial offices and tenancies, the upgrades will help us avoid significant maintenance costs and an expected $160,000 in carbon pollution costs.

Our four-year target to reduce the City fleet's light and heavy vehicle emissions by 20 per cent by 2014 has already been met, despite an increase in service levels. Our parks, footpaths and roads are now serviced by diesel-electric hybrid trucks that emit up to 30 per cent less CO2 and we're increasing the number of hybrid vehicles in the fleet, and where possible, we use sustainable biofuels in our diesel trucks.

As you know, meeting the sustainability challenge is also about education and behavioural change and we encourage and support our staff to walk or use public transport, or the City's own bicycle fleet wherever possible.

Our Decentralised Water Master Plan aims to reduce demand, provide sustainable water supply sources, and improve stormwater quality.

By the end of this year, we will have delivered - with the help of some Federal funding - Sydney's largest water-harvesting system in Sydney Park which will be used for irrigation and to top up the park's wetlands.

Our Renewable Energy Plan on public exhibition. It has established that there are enough renewable gas energy sources within 150 km of Sydney to replace reliance on natural gas.

It identifies opportunities for solar energy within the Local Government Area, and shows how the city can meet its target of 30 per cent of energy from renewable sources by 2030.

In making Sydney sustainable, we are also making it more beautiful through massive increases in the tree canopy, improving our parks, encouraging community gardens and street plantings, encouraging green rooftops and buildings hung with greenery.

We'll continue to forge ahead with our own projects, and to work with organisations like your own to make Sydney one of the world's greenest global cities.

Once again, I congratulate you for your wonderful work, and I'm pleased to formally open this new Sydney headquarters.