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Reducing carbon emissions and managing energy, water and waste efficiently

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A city supported by infrastructureInfrastructure
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Planning Priority W19

The significant growth and development planned for the 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 precinct-wide 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 Greater Sydney Commission has been seeking to better understand greenhouse gas emissions for each District across Greater Sydney and will continue to explore 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 cluster 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 non-residential buildings
  • building and precinct-scale renewable energy generation
  • waste diversion from landfill.

The way Greater Sydney's urban structure and built form develops 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, 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. There is an opportunity to apply these new technologies in the Western Sydney Airport Growth Area.

Designing high-efficiency and incorporating renewable energy generation into homes will reduce emissions and reduce costs overtime. 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 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.

Recycling and reducing waste

There is diminishing capacity for land filling in Greater Sydney, with more waste being landfilled outside the region. The West District has a number of waste treatment facilities including landfills, transfer stations and organic treatment facilities. As the District's population grows, the need for new recycling and resource recovery infrastructure will help manage the growth in waste. Additional sites for resource recover in Greater Sydney would reduce waste going to landfill and the associated transport costs.

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.

Managing residual waste through an energy waste facility can also allow for energy recovery and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Photograph of Penrith Weir


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

In higher density neighbourhoods, innovative precinct-based waste collection, re-use and recycling would improve efficiency, reduce truck movements and boost the recycling economy. Where possible, additional land should be identified for waste management, reprocessing, re-use and recycling.


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.

Environment Protection Authority