Assets and infrastructure
How are councils considering the financial implications
of climate change for asset management?
What can I do?
Have you checked on your insurance recently? Are you covered for significant weather events?
Your biggest asset may be your home. Insurance claims and rising premiums are some of the most significant financial implications of climate change when it comes to having private & personal assets. The Financial Rights Legal Centre run the Insurance Law Service, a national service advising consumers. The Insurance Law Service provide factsheets on insurance for bushfires and floods – natural hazards projected to become more frequent and intense under conditions of climate change.
How are councils responding?
Many councils are undertaking assessments of their assets and infrastructure to determine their exposure and vulnerability to climate impacts to understand the financial impact on maintenance and replacement regimes.
At the 2019 Victorian Greenhouse Alliances Conference, councils hosted a panel of speakers to discuss the financial risk posed by climate change, sponsored by the Insurance Council of Australia. Climate change is creating a growing need for mitigation infrastructure; councils that are hazard prone are becoming more exposed in a climate changed future. Councils discussed what mitigation infrastructure is – what types of assets, how to prioritise mitigation projects by need (exposure, vulnerability) and how to access capital through Government or private capital.
How are councils supporting the community
through resilient infrastructure?
What can I do?
Have you looked around your home and identified which risks are relevant to you?
Natural hazards impact homes, businesses and community infrastructure. Hazards such as bushfire and floods are projected to become more frequent and intense with climate change – the Country Fire Authority (CFA) and the Victorian State Emergency Service (SES) provide detailed information on preparing for these hazards.
The CFA have developed the Fire Ready Kit, a comprehensive resource detailing actions you can take to prepare for bushfires. Fire Preparation meetings and Bushfire Planning Workshops can also help you prepare for the bushfire season.
If you live in high risk bush- or grass-fire area, and can get together with four or five local households to discuss keeping your home and neighbourhood safe, the CFA also run the fire safety program Community Fireguard. This program is designed to help you think through a range of scenarios, make informed decisions, and maintain a fire smart house and garden.
Flooding poses a risk to homes and businesses. The Victorian SES provide local flood guides and emergency plans for a number of flood-prone communities across Victoria, and detail how to prepare your home or business for flooding.
The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) have also released the Building Resilience Rating Tool. The Tool identifies risks in terms of fire, flood, hail and wind, against building materials and construction, to identify the resilience of buildings. The ICA suggest ways to improve building resilience which they note may result in reduced insurance premiums.
How are councils responding?
Councils collaborate with other agencies through Integrated Water Management (IWM) Forums. The IWM Forums have been established across the state to identify, prioritise and oversee the implementation of collaborative integrated water management opportunities. Projects implemented through these forums are important in the context of climate change that will see reduced rainfall overall, but more instances of extreme precipitation. Councils have an important role to play in stormwater drainage infrastructure and are implementing innovative collaborative projects to improve regional water security, reduce flood risk, and contribute to healthy waterways and ecosystems.
Many councils are also members of The Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia (IPWEA), the peak association for the professionals who deliver public works and engineering services to communities in Australia and New Zealand. IPWEA provide a methodology and guidance for asset managers on how to assess the impact of climate change on infrastructure useful life to the year 2100.
Councils are also implementing capital works projects to manage climate risks, including projects such as coastal protection works to manage sea level rise, and shade infrastructure to manage more hot days and more heatwaves.
Future assets forumFrom October to November 2015, the Eastern Alliance for Greenhouse Action (EAGA) and the Northern Alliance for Greenhouse Action (NAGA) in collaboration with Arup delivered a customised training program for council asset and facility managers to embed building vulnerability assessment approaches within ongoing asset management practices and capital works programs.The capacity building program featured presentations from the Essential Services Commission on the rate capping and variation framework and the requirement for evidence based approaches in proposed variations. This was accompanied by detailed a case study presentation from the City of Whitehorse where the building vulnerability assessment methodology has been in use since 2012.In addition to the workshops, a number of resources were developed for practitioners across the sector, including all assessment sheets, training guide and outcomes from attendee pilot trials. All program materials are available through EAGAs website.
Making Carnegie Library more resilient
Libraries are community spaces that are creative and safe spaces for everyone in our community. They’re also places of respite and refuge on extreme weather days.
As part of Glen Eira City Council’s energy-efficiency upgrade program, we identified an opportunity at Carnegie Library to improve its resilience to extreme weather days by reducing grid-based energy consumption and carbon emissions.
In 2016, we installed 240 LED lights and a 70 kWp solar system. This has reduced Council’s carbon footprint by 522 tonnes. This is equivalent to taking 113 cars off the road each year. Solar allows us to generate clean energy on-site and protects us against rising energy costs.
In the past four years, we've saved $97,849 and 487,779 kilowatt hours. This represents a 21 per cent reduction in energy bills and a 35 per cent reduction in kilowatt hours. Carnegie Library is now a climate resilient building that is ready for the future.
Coastal erosion works
Bayside City Council is working to address the impact of coastal erosion at the southern end of Dendy Street Beach and prevent further wave and wind damage. This includes installing a low sandbag wall to protect the fragile dunes and coastal vegetation adjacent to Holloway Bend from further erosion. The 45m long wall was constructed above the high tide mark to protect the foreshore. The work included harvesting clean sand from the northern section of the beach for sandbag fill, construction of a low sandbag wall to protect the dunes and minor beach renourishment. Council has sought expert guidance from coastal engineers and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning on these works and received a Heritage Permit for the works from Heritage Victoria.