While the National Heritage-listed Adelaide Park Lands provide a green outline to the city, the culture within this one square mile is slowly but surely changing its hue.
Smart, green, liveable and creative are the themes of the draft City of Adelaide 2016-2020 Strategic Plan, where the green lens is both metaphorical and physical. Last December, the Adelaide City Council became a signatory to the Compact of Mayors and the Lord Mayor was an invited speaker at the Sustainable Innovation Forum, the biggest business–focussed side event at the United Nations Paris Conference of Parties (COP21).
The City also continues to work with State Government and other national and subnational governments on keeping the effect of climate change to under 2°C. It has made a good start; the City has achieved a 20 percent reduction in carbon emissions while increasing economic activity by 28 percent and residential growth by 27 percent since 2007.
During this time, Council realised an annual cost–saving of $800,000 in avoided energy costs through energy efficiency upgrades within its own operations, further demonstrating that decoupling carbon emissions provides multi–faceted benefits.
Joined by the State Government in the Carbon Neutral Adelaide partnership, the City has its sights on being the world’s first carbon neutral city. The question is how? Most of the Adelaide City Council’s carbon emissions are attributed to electricity and transport fuel.
The Council has a multipathway approach including supporting residents and businesses to transition to renewable energy supported by battery storage. This includes investigating barriers to uptake such as landlord approval and removing the up–front cost of solar panels for residents on low–income or in rental properties, via adaptation of Darebin City Council’s award–winning Solar Savers program. But addressing the transport–related emissions is the trickiest task. Metropolitan Adelaide’s low density makes efficient public transport difficult to achieve, which is reflected in our CBD having the highest number of per capita car parks in the nation.
Within the CBD, plans are afoot for thoughtfully placed electric charging points and reduced parking costs for electric vehicles. The move to electric vehicles will be embraced by council, who has committed to developing a purchasing plan for low– or zero–emission vehicles in its own fleet by 2017.
This will play a part in the new transport mix as will developing green pathways that provide shaded and secure journeys, making these attractive places to walk and cycle.
By further planting and shading the Park Lands and built–up areas of the CBD, significant temperature reductions can be made in the summer months, resulting in reduced energy demand while creating more walkable surroundings, good for both public health and emissions reduction.
The Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect occurs when cooling plants are replaced with heat absorbing asphalt and building materials. In Adelaide, the UHI has been shown to be responsible for up to a 6 degree celsius difference in temperature between the Adelaide Park Lands and parts of the CBD.
With an increase in frequency and intensity of heatwaves predicted as a result of climate change, this temperature difference can have consequences relating to the health of our most vulnerable citizens as well as a spike in electricity use.
The primary strategy for mitigating the UHI is re–greening streets, roofs, walls, and open spaces including the Park Lands. The use of treated wastewater and stormwater for irrigation of plantings further enhances the green credentials of council, while enhancing the Adelaide coastal council’s landscape through deflecting a significant quantity of stormwater and treated wastewater that would otherwise enter our coastal waters.
Council has plans to increase its current use of the Glenelg Treated Wastewater from 25 percent to an overall 80 percent by 2020. Greening the Park Lands with Indigenous plantings will further enhance the biodiversity of the city.
Council’s newly released design strategy, the Adelaide Design Manual, will not only contribute to achieving the green objectives set out in Council’s Draft Strategic Plan, but provides a framework to guide all city design work, with a strong focus on sustainable and green projects.
For instance, Council is currently collaborating with the West End Village Association to provide new street trees, rain gardens with mixed plantings and permeable paving to a section of Waymouth Street West, and other projects such as Council’s Green Wall and the Gouger and Wakefield Street median plantings will work towards the 100,000 square metres by 2020 target, contributing to a reduction in city temperatures by 2040.
Council’s experience in transitioning to renewable energy and associated energy storage, application of alternative water resources, water–use efficiency, and state of the art waste management, provides serious opportunities to build international trade partnerships based around knowledge transfer on how to achieve carbon neutrality and a sustainable city.
The City has established relationships through the Sister City Program with cities in the USA, China, Malaysia, Japan, and New Zealand, but there is no need to stop there. A Green Way of Life is one of the four pillars of the City of Adelaide’s draft Strategic Plan 2016–2020.
It may well be that it is the foundation stone for the remaining pillars: an agile economy, an enviable lifestyle and an Adelaide experience.
This article is sponsored by Adelaide City Council