Penrith City Council in NSW has implemented software to measure, monitor and report on its carbon emissions and water use.
The council is a member of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiative, and has signed on for its Cities for Climate Protection program and its Water Campaign.
NSW councils must also meet the obligations of the state government's water and energy savings initiatives, which require high water and energy users to prepare actions plans to assess water or energy use and identify ways to save.
As part of this approach, Penrith council tasked its sustainability team with establishing corporate and community reduction goals, adopting an action plan and implementing initiatives.
It adapted its existing financials software to create a new ledger for its environmental ‘budget’. The system has allowed the council to move away from a manual system of recording, formatting, monitoring and reporting on carbon emissions and water usage — a lengthy data entry process.
“We used to have to manually record our water and energy consumption through bills, and from there we would then start to report on the water and our carbon emissions,” sustainability co-ordinator, Carmel Hamilton, said.
“It took a long time to get all the information, and by the time we had it all, it was already out of date. We decided there had to be a better way of doing it.”
Penrith chose to adapt its existing TechnologyOne Financials system after investing possible options in market.
“By adding a new ledger to TechnologyOne Financials and using a system that was already familiar to everyone in the organisation, it has made it much easier for staff to use,” Hamilton said.
The council estimates it is saving a minimum of three weeks a year in data collection. The ability to showcase results against targets has also helped the project gain traction within the organisation.
“So far we have managed to reduce water consumption by almost 40 per cent from the 2001-02 level,” Hamilton said.
Penrith City Council joins South Australia’s Campbelltown City Council, which is implementing TechnologyOne Enterprise Budgeting and its Business Intelligence software to calculate its emissions, helping it to achieve a South Australian target to reduce emissions by 60 per cent by 2050.
TechnologyOne Executive Chairman, Adrian Di Marco, said Penrith City Council had shown that identifying an organisation’s environmental impact does not have to be difficult or expensive.
“It is not a huge stretch to apply certain formulae and configure the system to report in a certain way; a good solution will be able to dissect the data so each manager can see in real time how their unit can reduce its environmental impact,” he said in a statement.
“Every organisation should start this tracking now because it is inevitable environmental reporting will soon be as common as the need to comply with HR and financial regulations.” Earlier this week, the South Australia government and the state's Technology Industry Association (TIA) struck a new deal aimed at reducing electronics and ICT industry greenhouse gas emissions. The Business Sustainability Alliance within State Government will initially see a range of resources to five electronic businesses as a trial to demonstrate the commercial benefit in energy and greenhouse gas emissions reduction.