Sustainability in Practice

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Cairns Regional Council is committed to embedding sustainability into its operations. As one of the largest organisations in the region there are significant opportunities to lead the way, with triple bottom line benefits for the environment, economy and community. Council's internal workplace sustainability initiatives include:

More detail on Council's sustainability performance and initiatives across the region (including natural areas management, water and waste, sustainability engagement, planning etc.) can be found in the annual State of Environment reports.

Energy and Emissions Management

Cities Power Partnership

In 2017 Council joined the Cities Power Partnership, a national pledge program led by The Climate Council to celebrate and accelerate the emission reduction and clean energy successes of Australian towns and cities.

Emissions Reduction Target and Renewable Energy

By 2020, Council aims to slash its greenhouse gas emissions by 50% from 2007/08 levels. This ambitious target is on-track through landfill gas management, energy and fuel efficiency and renewable energy installations, with a tenfold increase in 2017, bringing Council's total solar capacity to one megawatt (enough to power 276 homes).

Energy and Emissions Monitoring

Council monitors energy use, costs and greenhouse gas emissions for its 500+ electricity accounts using a purpose built Energy and Emissions System. This includes electricity and fuel use, refrigerants and fugitive emissions from landfill and wastewater treatment. It is an important tool for identifying priorities and quantifying the on-ground benefits of investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives.

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.

Energy Efficiency

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.

Fleet: With GPS monitoring enabling improved fleet management and over 20 hybrid vehicles, Council has reduced its fuel consumption by 32% in 2016/17 compared to 2013/14.


Council uses the two-bin system (one for waste, one for general recycling) throughout its offices and depots to keep consumables in the recycling loop.

Batteries, fluorescent lights, mobile phones, printer cartridges and some office consumables such as coffee pods and stationary are also recycled in house.

Waterway Health

Reef Guardian Council

Land-based runoff is a major pressure on the reef. In 2008, Council joined the Reef Guardian Council program coordinated by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to work with other councils on this issue. Since then, 13 councils from Bundaberg to Cooktown have joined the program.

Head to Council's Reef Guardian webpage to find out more about Council's work, including water quality monitoring and improvements, land use planning, storm water and erosion control, revegetation and community education.

Water Conservation

Council monitors its water consumption, uses recycled water on some of its facilities and has a specialised irrigation team to monitor and adapt water use in public spaces.

Staff Engagement

New Staff Inductions

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

Workplace Giving Program

Council matches staff donations to raise over $10,000 each year for the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre.

Resource Efficiency

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

Celebrating Sustainability

Each year Council recognises staff who have contributed to improved sustainability outcomes in their work area, through special projects or improved processes in the annual staff training and excellence awards.

Last updated: 21 December 2017