Improving Energy Efficiency at Council

Council aims to be a leader in the use of new energy efficient technologies. Local businesses, community groups and households can learn from Council's experiences and potentially invest in these technologies as well, thereby reducing their energy costs and CO2 emissions. Council has recently installed several energy reduction and replacement technologies:

Ammonia based chiller

While Ammonia based chillers have been used in industrial refrigeration applications for many years, the system installed at Council's Administration Centre is the first example of this technology being used to supply office air conditioning in Australia. The technology provides three cost and environmental savings:

  • By using Ammonia, a so called 'natural refrigerant', rather than conventional Freon refrigerants, the system avoids all costs associated with the carbon price, as it relates to refrigerants,
  • The system is highly energy efficient with a coefficient of performance of 5.79, radically reducing energy costs, and 
  • Any ammonia leaking from the system will have no global warming impact as opposed to Freons which have a large global warming impact.

It is estimated that the system is saving $200,000 a year in costs relative to the system it replaced, resulting in an approximate five year payback period.

Energex subsidises projects that contribute to significant reductions in peak demand. This system does that so they awarded Council a $34,000 subsidy.

Solar PV

Council has invested heavily in solar PV in recent years, installing 16 systems. More details on Council's solar PV systems are available on Council's solar PV webpage.

Energy efficient lighting

The lighting in numerous Council facilities has been upgraded using more energy efficient technologies recently. For example, as part of the wholesale refurbishment of sections of Council's Administration Centre, the previous double T8 fluorescent light fittings were replaced primarily with single T5 fluorescent fittings, resulting in up to a 65% reduction in electricity consumption per fitting.

Dichroic halogen down lights were also once common in Council buildings. These have now either been replaced with LED down lights or are in the process of being replaced. The latest generation LEDs offer comparable light levels but use around 70% less electricity. They also have significantly longer life spans meaning that savings in maintenance costs can be achieved in addition to the electricity cost savings.

Both of these technologies have recently been installed at the Beenleigh Events Centre and Beenleigh Library. 

Efficient computer use

Council has implemented policies to improve the environmental performance of its computer systems. These include:

  • Setting up all printers to automatically print double sided, saving significant amounts of paper,
  • Setting screen savers on computers to automatically turn off after ten minutes, rather than operating indefinitely, and 
  • Enacting a policy requiring that staff shut down their computer at the end of every work day.

It has been estimated that these changes are saving Council $37,000 a year in electricity and paper costs, and 195 tonnes of CO2.

For any businesses that use computers, these steps could quite easily be taken, usually at no direct cost.

Variable speed drive pumps

Council has connected a number of its water pumps to Variable Speed Drives (VSD). These allow the pumps to only work at the level that is required, rather than either at 100% power or entirely off. A pump running at 80% load will use only 50% of the electricity of full load operation; thus energy savings are made. These have been installed at the Bethania, Beenleigh, and Eagleby Aquatic Centres with each saving around $1,300 in electricity costs a year.

Voltage reduction

On certain pieces of equipment only, voltage reduction can be a good a way to reduce electricity consumption. Older fluorescent light fittings with magnetic ballasts are one such piece of equipment, particularly where existing light levels are higher than required. Voltage reduction equipment was installed in the gym at AquaLogan Springwood. In this case the energy consumption of the lights was reduced by around 30% yet light output reduced by only 15%. The voltage reduction device is saving around $900 in electricity costs and 9.4 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.

Hot water systems

With the help of the Federal Government under the Local Government Energy Efficiency Program (LGEEP) Council replaced many of its old mains electric storage hot water systems with highly energy efficient solar hot water systems or heat pump hot water systems. By using the heat of the sun as their primary energy source, these can use around 80% less electricity than standard electric systems. A total of 22 systems across 13 Council owned facilities were installed.

Street and park lighting

With the help of the Australian Government through the Department of Industry, Council has replaced the existing public lighting at thirteen locations across the city with compact fluorescent lamps and LEDs.

Air conditioning system coil cleaning

Air conditioning systems work at their most efficient when the condenser coils are undamaged and clean allowing air to pass easily between the coils. As the coils age they can deteriorate and corrode. By cleaning the coils and coating them with an anticorrosive treatment it is possible to improve the operating efficiency of the system, while simultaneously extending their lifespan. The air conditioning system at the Animal Management Centre was treated resulting in estimated savings of $1,000 a year.

Pool blankets

Pool blankets are utilised where applicable on Council operated pools. They help to retain heat and therefore reduce water heating requirements.

Helping the community

Council also undertakes projects to help the local residential and business community improve energy efficiency including:

  • The Resilient Business initiative
  • The "DIY Sustainability" booklet, available at all Logan libraries
  • The Logan Climate Smart Business Cluster (over 2011-12)
  • Regular "Reduce Your Power Bill" information sessions in the Logan Libraries, and
  • Promotion of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable living at LEAF.