Council uses Australian software to measure and reduce environmental impact

Penrith City Council is using software developed in Australia to measure, monitor and report on its carbon emissions and water use.

The Council has adapted its existing TechnologyOne Financials software to create a new ledger for its environmental ‘budget'.

Penrith City Council has a long history of leading local government sustainability, signing up to the International Council for Local Environmental Initiative (ICLEI) Cities for Climate Protection (CCP) program in 2000 and ICLEI's Water Campaign in 2003.

To meet its commitments to these programs and its obligations under the NSW State Government's statutory Water and Energy Savings Action Plans, Penrith City Council assigned its sustainability team to establish corporate and community reduction goals, adopting an action plan and implementing initiatives.

Carmel Hamilton, Sustainability Coordinator at Penrith City Council, said that manually recording, formatting, monitoring and reporting on carbon emissions and water usage previously required a lengthy data entry process, even though the information was being captured elsewhere.

"We used to have to manually record our water and energy consumption through bills, and from there we would then start to report on the water and our carbon emissions," she said.

"It took a long time to get all the information, and by the time we had it all, it was already out of date."

"We decided there had to be a better way of doing it."
Following a search for a solution, the Council chose to adapt its existing TechnologyOne Financials system.

"By adding a new ledger to TechnologyOne Financials and using a system that was already familiar to everyone in the organisation, it has made it much easier for staff to use," Ms Hamilton said.

"TechnologyOne provided value for money compared to other providers that we had initially considered and staff were already familiar with the system, so implementing it was quick and easy."

Penrith City Council estimates it is saving a minimum of three weeks per year in data collection and, because staff can see how the facilities they are responsible for are faring against reduction targets in real time, the whole organisation has embraced the initiative.

"So far we have managed to reduce water consumption by almost 40% from the 2001-02 level."

TechnologyOne Executive Chairman, Adrian Di Marco, said Penrith City Council had shown that identifying an organisation's environmental impact does not have to be difficult or expensive.

"A truly integrated enterprise software solution should be capturing all the data needed, such as electricity, gas, fuel and water usage," Mr Di Marco said.

"It is not a huge stretch to apply certain formulae and configure the system to report in a certain way; a good solution will be able to dissect the data so each manager can see in real time how their unit can reduce its environmental impact.

"Every organisation should start this tracking now because it is inevitable environmental reporting will soon be as common as the need to comply with HR and financial regulations."