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Reducing carbon emissions and managing energy, water and waste efficiently

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Planning Priority C19

The significant growth and development planned for the Central City District will mean that demand for energy and water and the generation of waste will increase. Without new approaches to the use of energy and water and management of waste, greenhouse gas emissions are likely to increase.

The District has an opportunity to include precinctwide energy, water and waste efficiency systems for land release, urban renewal, industrial and urban services land, centres and Collaboration Areas.

Adopting a place-based approach is necessary to achieve the best sustainability outcomes, including renewing and replacing inefficient infrastructure and organising utilities, waste management, car parking, amenities, open space, urban green cover and public spaces.

Better design of precinct-wide energy, water and waste systems will encourage a circular economy that improves efficiency. A circular economy means designing waste out of the system. For example, a food manufacturing plant could send waste to an adjacent anaerobic digester to power the plant.

A low-carbon District

More efficient use of energy and water in the District will reduce impacts on the environment and the District's greenhouse gas emissions.

The Commission has been seeking to better understand greenhouse gas emissions for each district across Greater Sydney and will continue to explore this area to improve opportunities for planning initiatives to support the NSW Government's goal of achieving a pathway towards net-zero emissions by 2050.

Potential pathways towards net-zero emissions in the District include:

  • new public transport infrastructure, electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles to connect residents to their nearest strategic centre or metropolitan centre within 30 minutes
  • a range of transport demand management initiatives including working from home, improved walking and cycling, improved access to car sharing, carpooling and on-demand transport
  • new building standards and retrofits so that energy, water and waste systems operate as efficiently as possible in residential and nonresidential buildings
  • building and precinct-scale renewable energy generation
  • waste diversion from landfill.

The way Greater Sydney's urban structure and built form develop in the future can support NSW's transition towards net-zero emissions. Better integrating land use with transport planning will help slow emissions growth by locating new homes near public transport and high quality walkways and cycle paths.

Building on existing public transport connections with electric vehicle transport hubs, shared autonomous vehicles and other innovative transport technologies can further reduce greenhouse emissions, and reduce levels of noise and air pollution. Prioritising parking spaces for car sharing and carpooling can support more efficient use of road space and help reduce emissions. Emerging transport technologies will reduce the need for parking spaces and help reduce congestion.

Designing high-efficiency buildings and incorporating renewable energy generation will reduce emissions and reduce costs over time. This means improving the energy and water efficiency of buildings, and reducing waste in urban renewal projects and infrastructure projects.

Recycling local water and harvesting stormwater creates opportunities for greening public open spaces including parks, ovals and school playgrounds. Recycling water diversifies the sources of water to meet demands for drinking, irrigating open spaces, keeping waterways clean and contributing to Greater Sydney's water quality objectives.

Photograph of man in a recycling plant

Sustainable waste management

Recycling and reducing waste

There is diminishing capacity in existing landfill sites in Greater Sydney, with more waste being sent to landfill outside the region. This increases costs to the community. Additional sites for waste management in Greater Sydney would improve efficiencies in managing waste.

The planning and design of new developments should support the sustainable and effective collection and management of waste. The Environment Protection Authority has prepared a range of guidelines and other information to assist in the sustainable management of waste.

Treating separated organic waste and then processing it through an energy-from-waste facility will reduce waste to landfill, and help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Blacktown, Parramatta and Cumberland councils use alternative waste treatment facilities to capture and recover more recyclable materials from the redlid general waste bins. This process helps to increase the recycling rate.

In higher density neighbourhoods, innovative precinct-based waste collection, re-use and recycling would improve efficiency, reduce truck movements and boost the recycling economy. This approach could be initially established in the District's larger centres, such as Greater Parramatta, Blacktown, Sydney Olympic Park and Norwest. Where possible, additional land should be identified for waste management, reprocessing, re-use and recycling.


By 2050, GPOP residents will consume more than 40 gigalitres of water each year. To address this, non-drinking water will be used for toilet flushing, irrigation of green spaces and other appropriate uses in homes.

GPOP presents the opportunity to change the way that water resources are managed. This will shift from reliance on coastal treatment and ocean discharge of treated wastewater and will plan a new facility on a site up to 17 hectares in GPOP's urban services area.

Collaboration and strategic partnerships can develop a hub where this valuable resource is managed and recycled locally. This facility would become an innovative and integrated resource recovery facility which, would produce recycled water; co-digest domestic biosolids and food waste to generate energy; and potentially be a net electricity exporter to the grid.

Exploring opportunities to leverage the Olympic legacy of the 'Green Games' and the Sydney Olympic Park Authority Act 2001 that encourages the use of renewable energy with the goal of developing and attracting clean and green industries.

Precinct-scale approaches have also been adopted in the Rouse Hill Town Centre, which is a low-water, low-energy and renewable energy-based precinct. These principles could be extended to other growth areas and urban renewal projects.


Support initiatives that contribute to the aspirational objective of achieving net- zero emissions by 2050, especially through the establishment of low-carbon precincts in Growth Areas, Planned Precincts, Collaboration Areas, State Significant Precincts and Urban Transformation projects.

Councils, other planning authorities, State agencies and State-owned corporations


Support precinct-based initiatives to increase renewable energy generation and energy and water efficiency, especially in Growth Areas, Planned Precincts, Collaboration Areas, State Significant Precincts and Urban Transformation projects.

Councils, other planning authorities, State agencies and State-owned corporations


Protect existing and identify new locations for waste recycling and management.

Councils, other planning authorities and State agencies


Support innovative solutions to reduce the volume of waste and reduce waste transport requirements.

Councils, other planning authorities and State agencies


Encourage the preparation of low-carbon, high efficiency strategies to reduce emissions, optimise the use of water, reduce waste and optimise car parking provision where an increase in total floor area greater than 100,000 square metres is proposed in any contiguous area of 10 or more hectares.

Councils, other planning authorities, State agencies and State-owned corporations


Investigate potential regulatory mechanisms such as a Protection of the Environment Policy (PEP) that sets low-carbon, high efficiency targets to be met through increased energy efficiency, water recycling and waste avoidance, reduction or re-use. This could include a framework for the monitoring and verification of performance for precincts in Growth Areas, Planned Precincts, Collaboration Areas, urban renewal precincts and housing growth areas that are planned to have an increase in total floor area greater than 100,000 square metres.

Environmental Protection Authority