A $300,000 federal government grant will help Lismore City Council reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by a phenomenal 12 tonnes each week and save hundreds of thousands of dollars in electricity costs.
The Community Energy Efficiency Program (CEEP) funding will be spent on improving technology at the Goonellabah Sports and Aquatic Centre (GSAC) and the Lismore Memorial Baths
Council will upgrade large pool pumps, replace lighting with modern LED lights and install solar heating for the pool water.
This will cut electricity usage at GSAC by 25 per cent and at the Baths by 58 per cent, saving more than $100,000 a year on power bills.
Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell told Echonetdaily Council was committed to reducing its carbon emissions by 20 per cent and the changes would help Council towards that target.
‘Council has to set the example. If we want the community and businesses to cut energy use and be sustainable, we have to take the lead,’ Mayor Dowell said.
‘We already have a revolving fund, the Cities for Climate Protection Fund, and we will match the CEEP funding dollar for dollar from that fund. The energy savings will see that money paid back to the fund for yet more projects in the future. The federal government grant has allowed us to do more and do it quickly.’
Baths centre manager Graham Walker said that electricity is the second-largest cost after staffing at the pools and costs are going to increase further in the future.
‘The whole team were thrilled when they got the news… we put a lot of work into the application and feel rightly proud of this achievement, being one of only 20 local government projects selected Australiawide,’ he said.
Mr Walker said the application was the result of an energy audit of the two facilities.
‘When I was first employed by Council it was really emphasised to me that sustainability was important and the team was conscious that with technology improving every year there could be some savings to be had,’ Graham explained.
‘The energy audit showed that there were inefficiencies and indicated where improvements could be made, so with the help of Council’s Environment Department the team put together a really strong application.
‘Because there is such a huge saving in electricity costs it means Council’s contribution will be paid back in three years.’
As part of the project Council staff will also run a major education campaign to show other Council staff, local businesses, and the broader community what energy efficiencies and costs savings are possible.