Council Operations

Staff engagement

Green Smart

Green Smart is Cairns Regional Council's staff program for workplace sustainability that's all about:

  • environmental stewardship,
  • good work practices, and
  • sharing ideas across and up.

Focus areas include saving paper (52% paper reduction in 2013/14 compared to 2009/10), saving energy (switch off before you knock off) and workplace recycling.

New Staff Inductions

All new Council staff receive a sustainability induction as part of their introduction to the Council workplace.

Recycling in the workplace

General recycling

Council uses the two-bin system (one for waste, one for general recycling) throughout its offices and depots to keep bottles, cans, plastic containers, paper and cardboard in the recycling loop.

Specialised recycling

Council recycles its own hand-held batteries (AA, AAA, C etc), fluorescent lights, mobile phones and printer cartridges as part of Green Smart, the workplace sustainability program.

Waterway health

Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrades

The Cleaner Seas Project was an innovative, $188 million upgrade of Council's northern, southern, Edmonton and Marlin Coast wastewater treatment plants to improve the quality of wastewater discharged to marine environments including the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef.

Delivered in partnership with the Queensland Government, the project has significantly reduced nutrient loading on the marine environment and created opportunities for high-quality recycled water for use by industry. Read more in the Cleaner Seas Project brochure ( PDF, 0.77 MB ).

Reef Guardian Council 

Land-based runoff is a major pressure on the reef. In 2007 the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority developed the Reef Guardian Council program to work with councils on this issue. Since then, 13 councils from Bundaberg to Cooktown have joined the program, covering an area of 317 271 km2 and a combined population of greater than 890 000.

As a Reef Guardian Council, Cairns Regional Council is committed to driving improvement in:


Council's workplace sustainability initiatives include

Energy and Emissions Management

Emissions Reduction Target

By 2020, Council aims to slash its greenhouse gas emissions by 50%. This ambitious target is on-track through landfill gas management, energy and fuel efficiency and renewable energy installations, including an additional 800 solar panels in 2016.

Energy and Emissions System

Council monitors energy use, costs and emissions for its 450+ electricity accounts using a purpose built Energy and Emissions System. The EES is an important tool for identifying energy efficiency priorities and quantifying the on-ground benefits of investing in energy efficiency.

Annual Greenhouse Gas Inventory

An annual report that provides a detailed breakdown of Council's greenhouse gas emissions profile including electricity and fuel use, refrigerants and fugitive emissions from landfill and wastewater treatment.

New Buildings and Renovations

Council has Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) to ensure new buildings and major renovations meet specific energy efficiency criteria. These MEPS are supported by Council's Sustainable Design Principles.

Solar Power

An additional 165 kilowatts (kW) of solar power was installed on five Council buildings in 2016, reducing Council greenhouse gas emissions by around 270 tonnes CO2(e) per year and saving more than $100,000 a year in electricity costs. Smithfield Library (30kW), Muddy’s Playground (15kW), Stratford Depot (30kW), Portsmith Materials Recovery Facility (60kW) and Gordonvale Depot (30kW) join existing solar installs at the Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre (20kW), four Wastewater Treatment Plants (40kW), two community halls (8kW) and two libraries (6kW).

Building Retrofits

Head Office:

Council's Spence Street office consumed 24% less electricity in 2013/14 compared to 2010/11, due to a series of upgrades including a lighting retrofit, ultra-violet sterilisation of the air-conditioning system and fine-tuning of the air-conditioning set-points via an improved building management system.

Main Depot:

Council's Martyn Street Depot consumed 19% less electricity in 2013/14 compared to 2010/11 due to a series of upgrades including a lighting retrofit and air-conditioning upgrades.

Reef Guardian Council

Reef Guardian Council, Great Barrier Reef, Turtle Money, Turtle Rehabilitation More

State of Environment Reports

Facts and figures on Council's sustainability performance, covering waste, recycling, water, wastewater, energy and emissions, conserving biodiversity, governance and community. More

Sustainability in Practice

Information about Council's workplace sustainability initiatives. More

Council is embedding triple-bottom-line decision making throughout its operations to ensure environmental, social and economic costs and benefits are fully considered as part of service delivery, from policy to practice.


Our sustainability commitments include:

Last updated: 15 May 2017