Adapting to a changing climate

aerial view of solar panels on building roof

Council's response to climate change

Most people will acknowledge we are seeing the effects of a changing climate over recent decades, not only in southern Australia, but around the world. In the City of Unley we have experienced higher temperatures and adverse weather events becoming more intense.

Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and reducing our carbon footprint, through use of smarter technology and renewable energy, is important. The City of Unley is working with other councils and state government bodies to share information and work together in a more coordinated response to be 'climate-ready' for challenges we face as communities.

Council is taking direct action in our operations to reduce the impact on our environment.

Addressing the causes 

Known as 'mitigation', Council is focusing on three key focus areas to help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which include:


  • A total of 105kW of solar has been installed since 2016 at our Civic Centre, Unley Swimming Pool, Clarence Park and Fullarton Community Centres and our Depot. This includes a 9.8 lithium ion battery installed at the Fullarton Community Centre.
  • Replacement of existing Council-owned streetlights to efficient LED lighting in residential streets.
  • Energy-efficient upgrades, including a 70% power consumption reduction in our IT server room in 2018.
  • Business support via the CitySwitch Green Office Program.
  • Information for our community on energy efficiency tips, tools and links to other incentives.


  • Ongoing delivery of the Walking and Cycling Plan(PDF, 8MB) is helping encourage more active modes of transport which in turn reduces car use.
  • Six 'e-bikes', funded through State Government grants, are used by Council staff to reduce car trips.

Waste management

  • Reducing waste to landfill, particularly methane releasing food waste, is a key priority for Council. A range of services and education programs has been implemented by Council to help reduce our waste footprint
  • Kitchen caddy and compostable liner roll out in 2020 with grant from Green Industries SA.

Responding to the effects 

Known as 'adaptation', there is a wide range of Council projects helping our City respond to the effects of a changing climate, including:


Unley takes pride in its trees and landscaped areas which add to the character of our City and help to cool and improve the urban environment.

  • Our Tree Strategy(PDF, 9MB) has a target to increase canopy cover by 20% by 2045 to keep Unley leafy for future generations.
  • We are reclaiming hard surface for more greening through Pocket Parks and Living Streets projects.
  • We have installed over 173 artificial habitat boxes(PDF, 749KB) for birds, possums and micro-bats which are regularly assessed and maintained.
  • Our Greening Verge incentive has seen 330 newly-greened verges created since 2017, which are gardened and maintained by residents.


Council has many projects that aim to conserve, recycle and improve water quality for the City and beyond. This process is called water sensitive urban design (WSUD).

  • Ridge Park and Heywood Park combined recycle up to 90ML of stormwater every year, used for irrigating parks and reserves through Manage Aquifer Recharge.
  • There are hundreds of 'water wells' in our kerbs which direct stormwater into the nature strip to water street trees.
  • Ongoing use of the Glenelg-Adelaide Pipeline (GAP) water on reserves since 2010 in conjunction with SA Water.
  • Numerous 'rain-gardens' created, including the Orphanage Park car-park spoon drain replacement upgrade in 2019. 


  • Working with Resilient East we completed aerial flyovers of Unley to map urban heat, and these heat-maps have been made available online to the public. This information informs urban planning and smart responses to increases in temperature. 
  • Many of our greening and water projects contribute towards reducing urban temperatures. 

Preparedness programs

We have actively been part of implementation of the Brown Hill Keswick Creek Stormwater Management Plan to help reduce flooding events along the catchment. 

Council has also been working closely with the Red Cross and the Resilient East alliance to provide training and support which improves resilience, in order to cope with the challenges and opportunities associated with climate change.