Singleton Council has been awarded as part of the 2021 Local Government NSW Excellence in the Environment Awards.
The council was awarded top prize in Division A (for council areas with a population below 30,000) in the Innovation in Planning, Policies and Decision Making category for its Sustainable Future Project.
Singleton Council General Manager Jason Linnane said the award from the peak industry body for local councils showed the Sustainable Future Project represented best practice in NSW.
"It's really good external recognition that we're on the right path and that we have a really good direction and we're actually doing what we say we're doing in terms of how we bring to life sustainability in not only the operation of our organization, but how we're also engaging with our community and providing the vision for our community as well," Mr Linnane said.
According to Singleton Council, the Sustainable Future Project is a two-pronged program of investment and engagement in local implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals comprising a community-based Sustainability Strategy and a council-based Sustainable Future Statement
Mr Linnane said the award recognises the hard work of many in the Singleton community, including the council's sustainability committee which includes representatives from the wider community.
"The most exciting thing is, it's just a starting point on our sustainability journey," Mr Linnane said.
"We're really punching above our weight and we're going to make sure we keep doing that into the future."
Mr Linnane said sustainability was important for all businesses, however councils had a higher level of responsibility to act sustainably on behalf of their communities as custodians of a range of assets and public spaces.
"When we're talking about sustainability, we're not just talking about environmental sustainability," Mr Linnane said.
"That is very important, it's one of our pillars, but we're also talking about social sustainability and financial sustainability.
"What we're finding, and we're finding it on an ever increasing basis, is that engaging in this sustainability journey is actually also delivering significant financial benefits."
Mr Linnane pointed to a council project to roll out solar panels on all of its major energy using sites.
"We borrowed some money to do that, and the payback period is about six or seven years, but after that we'll be saving around $130,000 to $140,000 per year," he said.
"We've also just involved ourselves in a tender process with a whole range of other big councils down in Sydney for the provision of our power across our network.
"We've increased the amount of green power we buy to 50 per cent, and as a result we're saving around $140,000 from that as well."
Other sustainability projects currently being implemented by Singleton Council according to Mr Linnane include changing streetlights to LED lighting and using recycled materials for fencing at Howe Park and the resurfacing of a car park at the Singleton Waste Management Facility.
"(The car park) was done using a very innovative product which contained soft plastics, glass, toner from printer cartridges, crushed rubber and reclaimed asphalt," he said.
"That cost us around $80,000 which is a really good example of how we can contribute to the circular economy to do major infrastructure projects as well."
The full list of award winners in the 2021 Local Government NSW Excellence in the Environment Awards is available at the organisation's website.
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