Councils and organisations across Victoria have been recognised at the 2023 Premier’s Sustainability Awards – held on 23 November – which recognise leaders in positive environmental and social change.
One council, the Brimbank City Council, and a cross-council collaboration, My Smart Garden, both received awards during the awards ceremony.
Brimbank City Council took home the Community Champion Award in the Sustainable Places Category for its Brimbank Aquatic and Wellness Centre, Australia’s first 100 per cent renewable energy-powered, zero greenhouse gas emissions aquatic centre.
Brimbank Aquatic and Wellness Centre uses an integrated four-pipe heat pump for simultaneous use in pool, domestic water, space heating and cooling, combined with a heat recovery system, 500kW onsite rooftop solar PV and a thermal energy storage system with a 88,000L capacity.
Compared to a conventional gas-powered design, the all-electric and renewable energy-powered centre is 76 per cent more energy efficient overall and is modelled to avoid 1,192t of greenhouse gas emissions per year, a reduction of approximately 17 per cent of the council’s overall annual greenhouse emissions.
Sustainability Victoria’s Interim CEO, Matt Genever, said he applauded Brimbank City Council for taking action to bring about positive change.
“With the Brimbank Aquatic and Wellness Centre, Brimbank City Council has challenged the status quo and shown true leadership in Sustainable Places. I feel inspired to hear their story and learn about the difference they’re making,” Mr Genever said.
My Smart Garden included a cross-council collaboration between Hobsons Bay, Moonee Valley, Maribyrnong, Brimbank, Wyndham, Stonnington, Merri-bek, and Yarra City councils, and is a free sustainable gardening program supporting residents to transform their outdoor spaces into productive, functional gardens.
Offering solutions for small rental balconies through to larger suburban gardens, the program has successfully changed behaviours across five themes: food, waste, water, shelter, and habitat.
The program also tackles climate change, biodiversity loss, and resource consumption, and increases health and wellbeing through food security, cost-of-living help, improving physical and mental health, and providing social connection.
Participants report that they feel more positive, that My Smart Garden is saving them money, and that the program is influencing other sustainability practices like buying local, cutting food waste, avoiding chemical use, participating in revegetation programs, and reducing consumption.
“My Smart Garden has demonstrated some fantastic sustainability outcomes and is a program with tremendous potential to be rolled out more widely across Victoria,” Mr Genever said.