Carbon Neutral Council

Brisbane City Council is committed to a clean, green and sustainable Brisbane.

Council maintains its carbon neutral status in line with the Australian Government’s Climate Active Carbon Neutral Standard for Organisations and is certified carbon neutral under the Climate Active program.

This certification is recognition of Council’s efforts to achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions. To achieve and maintain this Council:

  • measures our greenhouse gas emissions from all sources including the Rochedale landfill, electricity use in buildings and street lights and fuel use in Council buses and ferries
  • takes steps to reduce our carbon footprint where possible, such as through landfill gas capture and combustion, energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives
  • purchases and cancels eligible carbon offsets to cancel out all remaining emissions
  • publishes an annual Carbon Neutral Public Disclosure Statement.

Download our Public Disclosure Statements:

Our carbon footprint

Council’s carbon footprint for 2018-19 (the latest year for which data is available) was 589,615 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO²-e).

The four largest emissions sources - landfill, fuel use, street light electricity use and construction - currently account for 65% of the total carbon footprint. The remaining 35% is made up of emissions from building electricity use and indirect supply chain sources, such as  paper use, business travel and energy use by Council contractors and lessees.

Council is the only carbon neutral certified organisation in Australia with an operating landfill and large public transport service.

Emission reduction actions

This graph displays Council’s carbon footprint, in tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2-e), for financial year’s 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19. In 2016-17 Council’s carbon footprint was 644,039 tCO2-e; in 2017-18 Council’s carbon footprint was 635,352 tCO2-e; and in 2018-19 Council’s carbon footprint was 589,615 tCO2-e.

Council is continually taking action to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions as part of its carbon neutral commitment.

Since achieving carbon neutral status, Council’s overall carbon footprint has reduced by 8% - down from 644,039 tCO²-e in 2016-17.

The following actions are some of the ways Council is working to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

Energy efficient lighting

To reduce electricity consumption, Council is upgrading and replacing lighting in its buildings and facilities, the city’s streets and other public places with more energy efficient lamps.

More than 25,000 streetlights have been upgraded to date and all new and replacement lamps in street and other public lighting are to be LEDs, wherever possible.

The city’s traffic signals have also gradually been replaced with LEDs and facilities including the Story Bridge, Brisbane Riverstage and a number of workshops and depots have been upgraded.

Lighting upgrades and replacements implemented since achieving carbon neutral status in 2016-17 are estimated to reduce Council’s carbon footprint by around 1,720 tCO²-e per annum.

Solar power installations

On-site solar power systems allow Council to make use of available roof space to generate renewable energy that typically meets 20-30% of the site’s electricity needs and generally pay for themselves in four to 10 years, depending on the location.

As of December 2019, more than 1.5 megawatts of solar panels have been installed at Council sites, which are set to reduce Council’s carbon footprint by more than 2,139 tonnes of carbon dioxide per annum.

By implementing this technology, Council is producing around 2,300 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity annually which is equivalent to the energy required to power 421 Brisbane homes for a year.

Purchasing renewable energy

Council is using its purchasing power to support the Australian renewable energy industry and further negate the greenhouse gas emissions associated with our electricity use.

Council purchased around 50,000 MWh of renewable electricity in 2018-19, reducing the carbon emissions associated with electricity usage by more than 46,000 tCO²-e.

Overall, Council has purchased more than 920,000 MWh of renewable energy since it first started purchasing GreenPower for City Hall in 2003.

Reducing the impact of public transport

Council continues to innovate and incorporate technology to reduce emissions when purchasing new buses.  

A third of Council’s bus fleet is running on compressed natural gas, while approximately 60% of the fleet utilise new generation, high-efficiency Enhanced Environmentally-friendly Vehicle (EEV) diesel engine technology. 

Council is currently purchasing Volvo B8 Euro VI buses with 66 rigid buses and 20 articulated buses currently in service. The current contract allows for 60 new (rigid equivalent) buses per year that will be constructed to Euro VI specifications. Additionally, a Volvo B5 diesel-electric hybrid bus provides services on the City Loop route and Council has announced its intention to trial full electric bus technology in local operating conditions over the next two years.

The on-board software settings of over 500 of Council’s buses have also been modified to introduce: 

  • adapted gear selection profiles which better meet terrain conditions
  • automated five-minute idle shutdown
  • reconfigured transmission kick-down function. 

A program has also been piloted to integrate eco-driving techniques and technologies to alert drivers of uneconomical and inefficient driving practices.

Additionally, each full bus service equates to taking more than 40 cars off Brisbane roads, which reduces both emissions and congestion across the city, while also providing mobility options to all members of the community.

Council’s low emissions fleet

Council aims to improve air quality with every vehicle purchase by seeking lower emission vehicles, vehicles with alternate fuel sources and exploring innovative solutions to the vehicles we use to provide services to the community.

Council has had electric vehicles in the fleet since 2002. Our focus is on assessing trucks and passenger vehicles for electric or hybrid suitability and value for money. We currently have eight electric cars, 36 hybrid passenger vehicles and five hybrid trucks in the fleet. By the end of 2019-20 these numbers will increase by an additional 12 electric vehicles bringing the total to 20 electric passenger vehicles. This amount is set to increase annually.

Actively managing emissions from waste disposal

Council has a long-term commitment to reducing emissions from landfill.

Every year, more than half of the gas produced at Council’s operating landfill at Rochedale as well as five closed landfills is captured and either used to generate electricity or flared to destroy the methane component. More than 250,000 tCO²-e emissions are avoided annually through landfill gas capture and combustion.

Emissions at the Rochedale landfill are also reduced through Council’s green waste recycling service and community composting hubs which divert garden and food waste for alternative treatment and use as compost. Since 2010, the green waste service alone has diverted more than 159,000 tonnes, reducing the amount of organic garden waste ending up in landfill.

Carbon offsetting by Council

Carbon offsetting is a way for organisations to cancel out carbon emissions they are not able to completely eliminate by investing in projects that reduce or remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. It is an internationally recognised way for organisations to manage the carbon emissions that cannot be eliminated entirely and become carbon neutral.

Council purchases independently verified carbon offsets to negate the residual emissions from its operations, after emissions reduction initiatives have been taken into account.

Between July 2007 and June 2016 Council purchased almost one million carbon offsets to cancel out the emissions from its fuel use and business travel. From 2016-17, Council has offset all of its carbon emissions to ensure it maintains a net zero carbon footprint.

All offsets purchased by Council must be eligible under the Australian Government’s Climate Active Carbon Neutral Standard for Organisations.

Council purchases a mix of Australian and international offsets. Some examples of offset projects Council has purchased from include:

  • early season savanna burning projects in north Queensland and the Northern Territory
  • biomass, wind and solar energy projects close to Council’s sister cities in India and China. 
Last updated:10 June 2020