Visit the Official Maroochy Shire Council Website
Visit the Official Maroochy Shire Council Website
Greenhouse Program
The Greenhouse Effect
>What is it?
>What do we know so far?
>What about Maroochy Shire?
>Can we stop it?
>What can I do?
>Build an environmental home
>Green building guide (pdf 810KB)
>Getting government support
>The Maroochy Greenhouse Program
>Progress so far
>Where else can I get information? (Links)
Download Energy Savings Calculators (MS Excel format)
>Energy Efficient Lights (528KB)
>"Standby" mode (518KB)
>Shower roses (518KB)

What is it?

The greenhouse effect occurs naturally. Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere - like carbon dioxide and methane - trap some of the sun's heat to keep the earth warm.

But because of human activities, the increasing amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere means more of the sun's heat is being trapped, causing global climate change. This climate change is what is also known as the greenhouse effect.

The Greenhouse Effect

What do we know so far?

The consensus amongst the scientific community is that the enhanced greenhouse effect is very real. A report released in 2001 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), made up of hundreds of scientists from all over the world, concluded:

"The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate".

It is also possible that current levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere haven't been exceeded for the last 20 million years.

If we continue without reducing our emissions of greenhouse gases, the IPCC predict a global increase in average temperature by up to 5.8oC in the next 100 years. This increase would result in:

"…the 1990s was the warmest decade and 1998 the warmest year in the instrumental record, since 1861".

  • increases in sea level, droughts, floods and extinction of species;
  • the spread of deserts and loss of agricultural land; and
  • spread of vector-borne diseases - such as malaria or Ross River Virus.

What about Maroochy Shire?

Australia is the one of largest emitters of greenhouse gases per head in the world and we here in Maroochy Shire certainly contribute. The Maroochy Shire Council undertook an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions in 1998 (shown in figure 1) and if we did not do anything to slow our emissions of greenhouse gases, they would increase significantly in line with the growth of the Shire (as shown in figure 2).

Figure 1

Figure 1. Emissions of greenhouse gases (tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents) per sector from the Maroochy Shire in 1998.

"There has been widespread retreat of mountain glaciers in non-polar regions during the 20th Century"

Figure 2

Figure 2. Inventories of greenhouse gas emissions (carbon dioxide equivalents) from Maroochy Shire were carried out for 1994 and 1998 and a "Business as Usual" projection made for 2010.

Can we stop it?

There have already been consequences of global warming - the shrinking of ice sheets and glaciers and an increase in global average sea level by 10-20cm. Because of how long greenhouse gases live in the atmosphere, the effect of what we have already emitted will last for hundreds of years. But it doesn't have to get worse.

What can I do?

In 1998, an amazing 1.7 million tonnes of greenhouse gases were emitted from the Maroochy Shire. But there are plenty of things that you can do to help reduce this total and often save money at the same time.

  • When you're not in the room, turn the lights off. And when you are in the room, ask yourself whether you need the lights on or whether there is enough natural light for what you are doing.
  • As your light bulbs die, buy energy efficient ones. They cost more up front, but they save a lot of money, electricity and greenhouse emissions over the long run.
  • When you can, use your microwave oven in preference to less energy efficient means of cooking and re-heating.
  • When it's hot, close your blinds when you leave the house in the morning. Otherwise the sun gets in and heats up your house all day. Then you come home and have to put the air conditioning on!!
  • When it's hot, open windows and doors in opposite walls for cross-ventilation and use fans in preference to air conditioners as they require more electricity to run.
  • In Winter, leave the blinds open on the north and west sides of your home to let the sun in, but leave blinds closed in other parts of the house because they add insulation value to your windows. When the sun starts to go down, close all the blinds to keep the day's heat in over night. You may still need your heater, but not quite so early in the evening.
  • Instead of leaving your TV or stereo in "stand-by" mode, turn them off. Every item in "stand-by" mode creates about 90 kilograms of greenhouse emissions a year.
  • Be careful to manage your water usage - getting water to and from homes is one of Council's most energy consuming activities, accounting for nearly half of our greenhouse gas emissions. For example, turn the tap off while brushing your teeth; if you really need to water your garden; limit watering to just before sunset; use water efficient plumbing fittings such as cisterns, taps and shower roses; take shorter showers; etc.
  • Subscribe to a renewable energy program such as "Earth's Choice" from Energex, where they will guarantee that the amount of electricity you buy from them will be produced from renewable sources such as solar and wind.
  • When buying new appliances for home, the office or wherever, choose energy efficient ones.
  • Best not to use if you’re unsure of source/accuracy. When buying a new car, seriously consider the fuel type (eg. LPG instead of unleaded) and fuel consumption and ask yourself whether you really need that larger vehicle. Keeping your fuel bill down means keeping your greenhouse gas emissions down.
  • Organise a car pool for travelling to and from work.
  • Plan your trips more efficiently so that you can make fewer of them or make fewer detours.
  • Buy locally made goods - they need less transport to get to you.
  • Buy goods with less or no packaging - think about how much energy goes into packaging.
  • Install a solar or heat-pump hot water system and/or a solar photovoltaic electricity generation system on your roof. There are government subsidies to help with the costs of these technologies.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list. There are so many things you can do to help reduce our impact on global climate change and some of these help your budget stretch further at the same time. It's a win-win situation.

"… global average sea level rose between 0.1 and 0.2 metres during the 20th century"

Think of some more things you can do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This will be easy if you can stay conscious of your environmental impact with all things you do.

Build an environmental home

There are plenty of things we can all do to reduce our impact on climate change and when we're building a new house, we can do more again. In addition to wanting a house we can fondly call "home", we need to consider our home's impact on the environment. Here's some reasons why:


The average Australian house produces between 8 and 18 tonnes of greenhouse gases each year - those gasses which are contributing to global climate change. Saving our use of electricity generated from fossil fuels (where the majority of our electricity comes from now), can reduce these greenhouse gas emissions substantially. Cumulatively, savings nation-wide can be enormous. These savings would not only decrease our impact on global climate change, but have the spin-off benefit of reducing our electricity bills.


On average, people in Queensland produce over 800kg of waste each year, most of which ends up in landfill. Most of this "waste" is not waste at all. Much of it can be reused or recycled. In fact, a lot of it doesn't need to be used in the first place! We can reduce the amount of waste going to landfill by:

  • reducing waste at the point of purchase by, for example, choosing products with less packaging (or at least less non-recyclable packaging);
  • reusing waste by, for example, composting organic and green waste such as food scraps and lawn clippings; and
  • recycling waste - sorting our litter and actively recycling as much of it as possible.


On average Queenslanders use 635 litres of water every day. It makes environmental and economic sense to reduce our water usage. Saving water, by using it more sensibly, will defer or perhaps avert the need to build new dams and will reduce expenditure on storing, treating and distributing water. Hence, governments can save money and household water charges can be kept down.


Biodiversity is essential in the maintenance of all life on earth, yet Australia's record on losing biodiversity since 1788 has been very poor with the highest number of vascular plant (eg trees and shrubs) and mammal extinctions in the world. We also have one of the highest rates of threatened species in the world. There are numerous factors which contribute to this, but one of these is urban sprawl and its range of associated environmental problems.

Urban development is inherently unsustainable, however, in the short-term, we have an opportunity to decrease our impact substantially. We can do this by designing homes to fit within an environment and by landscaping and planting to encourage life to grow.

Getting government support for environmental features at home

Maroochy Shire Council, through Maroochy Water and WaterWise, is offering a Water Conservation Rebate Scheme to Shire residents within the water reticulated area who install water efficient products:

  • The AAA Shower Rose Rebate is available for residents who install a AAA-rated shower rose in their home. The maximum rebate is $20.
  • The Rainwater Tank Rebate is available for residents who install a rainwater tank on their premises. Rebates are between $20 and $250, depending on the size of the tank installed.

The Queensland State Government, through the Environmental Protection Agency, offers Renewable Energy and Solar Hot Water Rebate Schemes:

Renewable Energy Rebate Schemes include:

  • The Photovoltaic Rebate Program (PVRP) for installations of PV systems,
  • The Renewable Energy Diesel Replacement Scheme (REDRS) for installations of renewable energy systems and equipment in off-grid areas, and The Working Property Rebate Scheme (WPRS) for family-owned working properties located in regional Queensland not connected to the electricity grid. It assists with the installation of Stand-alone Power Systems (SPS) [also known as Remote Area Power Supply (RAPS) Systems].
  • The Solar Hot Water Rebate Scheme is aimed at increasing the use of domestic solar hot water heating throughout Queensland.

The Federal Government, through the Australian Greenhouse Office, also offers rebates for renewable energy technologies including the Photovoltaic Rebate Program (PVRP), which is available for households or community-use buildings installing grid-connected or stand-alone photovoltaic systems. (This rebate information was current as of October 2002. For the most recent information please call 1300 369 388 or visit the EPA website.)

The Maroochy Greenhouse Program

In 1998, Maroochy Shire Council joined an international program called Cities for Climate Protection (CCP) which helps local government authorities all over the world to implement strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Since joining the program, Maroochy Shire Council has established the Maroochy Greenhouse Program.

"The present [atmospheric] CO2 concentration has not been exceeded during the past 420,000 years and likely not during the past 20 million years"

The objectives of the Maroochy Greenhouse Program are:

  • to decrease the emission of greenhouse gasses by reducing the need and use of energy produced by burning fossil fuels
  • to promote the use of renewable energy sources
  • to attain culture change where energy considerations pre-empt personal actions
  • to lead by example

Progress so far

The Maroochy Greenhouse Program has so far:

  • carried out an inventory of emissions from the Shire
  • established greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets
  • developed an action plan to reach those targets, and
  • implemented an overseen a range of projects aimed at reducing emissions from within and from outside of the Maroochy Shire

Our goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the Maroochy Shire to 5% below 1998 levels by 2010 (shown in figure 3 below). For Council's own operations, we aim to bring our greenhouse gas emissions down to 20% below 1998 by 2010.

Figure 3

Figure 3. A comparison of greenhouse gas emissions (carbon dioxide equivalents) from Maroochy Shire between the "Business as Usual" scenario and the target set by Maroochy Shire Council for 2010.

The Maroochy Shire Greenhouse Action Strategy was endorsed by Council in 2000 and sets the path to further reductions in greenhouse gas emissions until 2010 and beyond.

Where else can I get information?

All quotes on this page have been taken from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports "Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis" and "Climate Change 2001: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability".

Other related web sites include: