What is Council doing?
In 2019, Council reaffirmed its commitment to take action on climate change by recognising we face a global climate emergency, requiring urgent action by all levels of government.
We are currently experiencing a climate that is around 1.1oC warmer since 1910 (CSIRO, 2018). This rise in temperature has seen an increase in extreme heat events and an increase in the severity of drought during times of below average rainfall. We have seen this in recent unprecedented storm events, which are predicted to occur with greater frequency.
In 2020 Council endorsed our Liveable Climate Plan which contains the following targets:
- Net zero emissions by 2040 with 60% reduction by 2025
- 100% renewable by 2030
- Zero operational spend on energy by 2024
Key actions to achieve this include:
- Source council’s energy from renewables
- Transition council fleet, plant and equipment to ensure zero emissions
- Improve the energy and water efficiency of all council facilities and equipment and develop a resilient buildings strategy
- Ensure environmentally sustainable design outcomes are achieved
- Consider, and adapt for, climate change in all future policies, programs, and services.
Find out more
Read the Environment Strategy 2015-2025
Read Council's Liveable Climate Plan(PDF, 4MB) and its accompanying Action Plan(PDF, 822KB)
Council measures its greenhouse gas emissions each year to ensure we are on track to Net Zero by 2040. Sources of emissions are mainly from electricity, fuel and natural gas. These emissions are reported using Climate Active Reporting methodology – part of the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) Scheme.
July 2021 - June 2022 data
Collective Power Purchase – VECO
Yarra Ranges Council signed on to Victorian Energy Collaboration (VECO), the largest ever emissions reduction project by local government in Australia. The ground-breaking project will reduce participating council’s energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions using 100% renewable energy generated in Victoria. By joining the project, Yarra Ranges Council will power all its facilities and streetlights with 100 per cent renewables.
Find out more about VECO
Over 65 buildings have a solar system installed, generating 1.47MWp of renewable electricity for use in council facilities, including libraries, links, halls and venues. The remainder of our energy supply that is not provided on-site is received through the Victorian Energy Collaboration, allowing our facilities to be powered by 100% renewable energy.
Find out where our solar installations are:
Council received a state government grant through the Growing Suburbs Fund to build a Biochar Facility. This was a flagship action in the Liveable Climate Plan and will contribute to the net zero emission goal.
By making biochar from woody waste and other plant material, we are stabilising carbon that was absorbed from the atmosphere through photosynthesis when the plants were growing.
Find out more
Energy Resilience for Townships
Council is working toward creating resilient energy townships by updating key facilities which can be activated and used by community when the power grid is down following a major event such as a storm, bushfire or heat wave. These events are happening more frequently with climate change.
The Yarra Glen Memorial Hall, Healesville Memo, the Yarra Centre, and the Healesville Library, on were all recently fitted with battery energy storage systems which allow the buildings to operate off grid when the power is out. More community facilities are being upgraded with solar, batteries, and generator plug in points as funding becomes available. As of July 2023, 15 community facilities had received generator plug in point installs.
Council has two primary Emergency Relief and Recovery Centres (ERRCs), which are ready for use during bushfire season, however, the 2021 June 9 storm demonstrated the need to have secondary centres ready year-round.
Federal government funding has enabled Council to partner with Monash University to conduct a microgrid feasibility study in Healesville, Yarra Junction and Monbulk.
Find out more
As part of our Integrated Transport Strategy we aim to connect neighbourhoods and create 20-minute walking zones which will help foster local community connection. The Footpath Prioritisation Framework we’re developing will guide where footpath links should be created.
Council purchase two Hyundai Ioniq electric vehicles for its fleet in 2018 and eight Hino hybrid tipper trucks were purchased in 2021. The trucks are used for township maintenance duties and works at sporting fields parks and bushlands. The hybrid truck provides an increased efficiency over diesel engine-trucks, with a fuel saving of 25%, reducing greenhouse gasses.
Council also uses eBikes for recreation trail inspections. These bikes allow greater access to tricky to reach areas while reducing council’s carbon footprint.
The number of publicly available chargers in Yarra Ranges is increasing. Council is working with electric vehicle charging companies to support development of a network of electric vehicle charging stations in Yarra Ranges.
Council is ensuring new buildings and facilities upgrades will be completed using the sustainable design principles.
Council is working on a Policy for Ecological Sustainable Development (ESD) upgrades and improvements to guide decisions on building design. Lifecycle assessment costs – social, economic and environmental – will be used to determine design to ensure long term operation costs are minimal, along with limiting the impact to the environment while ensuring our facilities are fit for purpose and comfortable for our community.
Council are members with Council Alliance for the Sustainable Built Environment (CASBE) and the Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard (BESS) to ensure we are across the latest in this field and work collaboratively with other Local Governments.
2023 and Beyond
Council’s Sustainability Team has many projects underway including:
- Solar program – continue with installation of rooftop solar on council and community buildings
- Climate resilient buildings - upgrades to community facilities to withstand the pressures of climate change and ensure they can be used as community hubs and gathering points following power outage
- Energy resilient townships – Healesville, Yarra Junction and Monbulk Microgrid feasibility study to create energy independence during grid failure
- Community energy transition - partner with Solar Savers to ensure homeowners can make the switch to renewable energy
- Business Energy Transition - programs including, Energy Saver Program and Environmental Upgrade Agreements continue to support businesses to reduce operating expenses and improve their sustainability brand
- ‘Climate thinking’ integrated across Council to ensure environmental sustainable design is considered from the outset
- Water management – protecting our platypus from increased stormwater flows with community help through catchment scale rainwater tanks. Transforming stormwater for fit for purpose use in irrigation and public toilets.
- Resource Smart Schools – environmentally focussed education in local schools and schools across the eastern region in partnership with (EASL).
Community and Business
Yarra Ranges Council partnered with Solar Savers in 2019 to deliver quality and affordable household solar systems to help our community become more sustainable and ensure no one is left behind in the renewable energy transition. The team at Solar Savers provide advice, information and arrange for trusted installers to fit systems as well as provide government rebate assistance for those who are eligible.
Find out more about Solar Savers
Council offers support to residents via the Gardens for Harvest and Gardens for Wildlife programs. Gardens for Harvest aims to inspire home gardening and local food production while Gardens for Wildlife aims to create backyard havens for our precious flora and fauna, linking corridors of habitat for native animals like our possums and bird life.
Find out more about Gardens for Harvest
Find out more about Gardens for Wildlife
Our Ribbons of Green Program helps property owners, schools and community groups restore and connect habitat across the landscape . The program has been running since 2008 and to-date we have helped 800 property owners’ plant nearly one million native grasses, shrubs and trees on their properties. This is important to help build resilience into the landscape in a changing climate and provide habitat for animals and insects. The plantings also help landowners create wind breaks for stock, increase soil stability and water retention, harbour beneficial insects and reduce carbon emissions by planting more trees!
Find out more about Ribbons of Green
Council has actively supported community groups and projects become more sustainable through in-kind support and funding. Council also offers an annual community grants program.
Visit our Grants page