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Energy and Greenhouse

Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide absorb the atmosphere's solar heat and help maintain the planet's temperature through a natural process known as the greenhouse effect.

Human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels to generate energy, have accelerated the rate at which greenhouse gases are emitted into the atmosphere leading to the enhanced greenhouse effect and global warming.

Australia is one of the world's highest emitters of greenhouse gases per head of population. Approximately one-fifth of Australia's greenhouse gases, more than 15 tonnes per household each year, is generated by Australian households through everyday activities including energy use, transport and the disposing of waste to decay over time in landfills.

Scientists have found that the consequences of global warming from the enhanced greenhouse effect are very serious. Impacts such as changing weather patterns (more severe droughts and floods and higher rainfall intensity); higher sea levels (as oceans expand and glaciers melt) and a rise in the earth's temperature are already evident.

Council action to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Governments, industry and the community all acknowledge that steps can be taken to stem greenhouse gas emissions and reduce global warming. At the local government level, Councils have the capacity to influence activities that are responsible for more than 50 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.

Rockdale City Council has made a commitment to reducing emissions from its own operations and in the community by joining the Cities for Climate Protection Program (CCP).

As part of the CCP program, Council carried out an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions generated by its corporate activities and those in the community (using 1995 as the baseline year). The inventory found the energy consumption in Council’s buildings was the biggest source of emissions, followed by its streetlights and transport usage. In the community, industry generated the largest quantity of greenhouse gases, followed respectively by transport and the residential sector.

Council is currently implementing both the corporate and community greenhouse reduction plans. Projects undertaken that have resulted in emission reductions include:

  • Retrofitting lighting in Council’s building has resulted in a greenhouse gas saving of 68.2 tonnes per year and a cost saving of $7340.81 per year, including both energy savings and maintenance savings.
  • Installing monitoring equipment to measure the energy use of the lighting and air-conditioning within the administration building.
  • Retrofitting streetlights by replacing 10,000 20-Watt lights with 360 mercury vapour lights. This has resulted in a large greenhouse gas saving of 156 tonnes per year.
  • Installing 180 new LG Flatron monitors with an energy star rating, resulting in a saving of 10 tonnes of greenhouse gas per year.
  • Developed a travel/public transport guide for staff.
  • Conducted environmental assessments and retrofits for residents with an aim to reducing water and energy use as well as saving money.
  • Conducted environmental assessments and retrofits for businesses in the Rockdale Town Centre to help reduce water and energy use as well as save money.

In addition, Council has been working with the Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils to develop regional strategies to decrease greenhouse gas emissions. In 2003 a Regional Greenhouse Action Plan was developed, providing a common set of actions that will be implemented across the Southern Sydney region. For more information about regional actions please visit

CCP Plus

Council has now progressed to the CCP Plus component of the Cities for Climate Protection Program. This involves reviewing the current greenhouse action plan and ensuring further implementation occurs. Council is also participating in the Greenhouse Purchasing project which aims to ensure Council's purchasing decisions minimise greenhouse gas emissions.

For further information

To help reduce greenhouse gas emissions see our guide to energy efficiency at home.

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