Council is embedding triple-bottom-line decision making throughout its operations to ensure environmental, social and economic costs and benefits are fully considered in how Council serves the community, from policy to practice.
Information on Council's annual sustainability performance and key initiatives including waste and recycling, water and wastewater, energy and emissions, biodiversity conservation and sustainability engagement.
As a gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, Council recognises the important role that reef stewardship plays in the environmental, social and economic sustainability of the entire region. Find out more about the work Council has done.
Council has joined a national coalition of local governments committed to accelerating emissions reduction and the transition towards clean energy. The program is led by the Climate Council of Australia and in January 2018, represented over 70 local governments. Find out about the pledges Council has made as a part of the program.
Recycling in the workplace
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.
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.
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 ).
In 2016, the Wet Tropics Healthy Waterways Partnership began pooling decades of scientific data to produce the first annual report card on the health of wet tropic river systems, including the Barron, Mulgrave and Russell Rivers.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Our sustainability commitments include:
- Corporate Sustainability Policy ( PDF, 0.14 MB ) – a commitment to embed sustainability considerations into Council processes and decision making.
- Energy and Emissions Management Policy ( PDF, 0.03 MB ) – a commitment to reduce Council's greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2020.
- Climate Change Strategy ( PDF, 1.24 MB ) – a framework for delivering on climate action, including Council's emissions reduction target.
- Biodiversity Strategy ( PDF, 4.47 MB ) – a framework for managing the natural environment under the jurisdiction of Council.
- Sustainable Building Design Policy ( PDF, 0.03 MB ) - a commitment to lead by example and consider sustainability in the design of all Council buildings and renovation projects