Brisbane boosts its clean and green credentials on the world stage

Brisbane has further advanced its reputation as a clean and green city, a destination that is known for being the ideal location for events of all shapes and sizes.

According to the Global Destination Sustainability (GDS) Movement, a worldwide program to drive environmentally and socially responsible practices across the business events and leisure tourism industries, Brisbane’s overall score has improved by four per cent over the last two years.

The GDS Index found Brisbane had shot up 12 per cent in the environment category, due to the city’s focus on green space, biodiversity and the circular economy.

Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner welcomed the finding, saying Brisbane’s growing status as a sustainable, prosperous and accessible city was just adding to its suite of competitive advantages over rivals.

Cr Schrinner said the city’s success improving its score in the respected survey reflected the Brisbane Economic Development Agency’s role in delivering immediate and sustainable initiatives for business.

Artist impression of Kangaroo Point Green Bridge.

“The GDS report highlights how Brisbane is on its way to becoming a global leader in sustainability because of our strong focus on preserving and activating parklands and outdoor facilities while maintaining its reputation as a sub-tropical lifestyle city,” he said.

In 2021, Brisbane Economic Development Agency (BEDA), the economic arm of Brisbane City Council, released the Sustainability Action Plan, building on a 2020 initiative to incorporate sustainability-related criteria into the city’s major event assessment processes.

This included projects to align with the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals and actions to ensure accountability and transparency with benchmarking and reporting.

Cr Schrinner said city leaders and the events industry in Brisbane were actively aiming to improve their sustainability initiatives.

“Our city and suppliers, who are passionate about sustainability, work with event planners to tailor event services and create legacy initiatives that deliver on the event and organisation’s social and environmental objectives,” he said.

Across the events and tourism community there are also strong initiatives underway to decrease environmental impacts.

Crystalbrook Vincent has partnered with EarthCheck as part of its commitment to offer ‘responsible luxury’.

Major events venue Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre has achieved EarthCheck Platinum Certification in recognition of its leading environmental and social best practice.

The award-winning South Brisbane facility of 44 multi-purpose event spaces installed solar panels and LED lighting inside the Exhibition Halls and car parks, and introduced a food waste dehydration system that has cut waste 85 per cent, waste that is then converted into fertiliser for the adjacent South Bank Parklands.

Tourism attraction Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary has declared its goal to be the world’s first off-grid zoo, and to achieve this, the acclaimed animal sanctuary is driving down energy use in day-to-day operations. It is also using solar and geothermal power sources and converting food waste to compost.

At Spicers Retreats, sustainability has long been a focus of their operations. The luxury accommodation provider – which operates Spicers Balfour in Brisbane, the Scenic Rim’s Spicers Hidden Vale and Spicers Peak Lodge and Scenic Rim Trail, and Tamarind Retreat and Spicers Clovelly Estate on the Sunshine Coast – has goals of net zero emissions by 2030, net zero waste by 2030 and 50 per cent water use on 2021 levels by 2025. Spicers is also running a green hydrogen trial at its Scenic Rim eco-cabins with a vision of expanding the pilot across its accommodation.

And in the heart of Brisbane city, Crystalbrook Vincent offers “responsible luxury”, with the Crystalbrook hotel network using biodegradable or recyclable bathroom products for waste-free amenities. The 166-room hotel at Howard Smith Wharves has removed single-use items, replacing them with Forest Stewardship Council paperboard containers and reusable drinkware as well as recycled wooden items. Crystalbrook Collective has also formed a partnership with leading certification and advisory group EarthCheck to boost their sustainability initiatives.

The Howard Smith Wharves precinct is committed to reducing its wastage.

The greater Howard Smith Wharves precinct is also leading the way to reduce their environmental impact. Businesses across the popular riverside dining hub recycle all plastics and paper, process all glass bottles for reuse, and compost up to 800kg of food waste daily, and the end-product goes to Maleny Dairies for use in their dairy operations.

Cr Schrinner said that at a city level, Brisbane City Council (BCC) has been recognised for its leadership on emissions reduction, biodiversity and promotion of green buildings, and is Australia’s largest carbon-neutral organisation.

He said that for more than a decade, BCC has been one of the biggest buyers of green power, with solar power and gas generated from landfill emissions also contributing to the energy used, and that solar power has been installed across council roof spaces, generating more than 2.2 megawatts of power (as at December 2020).

Cr Schrinner also acknowledged that across the central business district, about one in three buildings is certified by the Green Building Council of Australia, meaning they meet strict requirements for energy, water use and resilience.

He said the city’s green bridge program is also underway which will greatly improve connectivity, making it much easier for people to get around Brisbane by walking, cycling or using an e-mobility device.

Brisbane is aiming to increase its natural habitat cover.

The city’s 1,200-strong bus fleet is 100 per cent wheelchair accessible and efficient, and one in three runs on compressed natural gas, and about 60 per cent are high-efficiency EEV diesel.

Brisbane City Council, with oversight of more than 15,000 hectares of parks and bushland, has also operated the longest-running free plants program, encouraging residents to plant more trees.

Additionally, work is also progressing transforming the former Victoria Park golf course into a 64-hectare inner-city greenspace with recreation and activities for all-ages.

Cr Schrinner said Council would continue this leadership in sustainability with the Brisbane. Clean, Green, Sustainable 2017-2031 plan to improve environmental outcomes, including the goal to increase the city’s natural habitat cover to 40 per cent cover by 2031, which involves fast-tracking bushland acquisitions.

“Brisbane is delighted to have advanced its score on this global index, and BEDA will continue to work with business and industry to help deliver initiatives that drive environmentally and socially responsible practices across the business events and leisure tourism industries,” he said.