City sustainability projects recognised

CoGG's Aaron McGlade, Mahbube Subhani from Deakin, CoGG Innovative solutions portfolio holder Cr Peter Murrihy and Austeng's Ross George. (Supplied)

Two innovative sustainability projects spearheaded by the City of Greater Geelong have been recognised with awards recently.

The Dell Eco Reef at Clifton Springs took out the Special Projects Initiative category at the Victorian LGPro Awards for Excellence, while the sustainable bridges project at Cowies Creek in Seagull Paddock won an Excellence in Environment & Sustainability award at the 2024 International Public Works Conference in Melbourne.

The Eco Reef helps reduce coastal erosion and create marine life habitat through its 46 erosion mitigation units, sculptured domes made of recycled materials forming an artificial reef.

The visually distinctive domes, which won the Dezeen Award for Sustainable Design in London last December, also serve as a tourism drawcard for recreational snorkellers and swimmers.

The sustainable bridges, which have won a string of awards including three Institute of Public Works Engineers Australasia awards and a commendation in 2022, are made of geopolymer, an extremely long-lasting material that creates up to 80 per cent less greenhouse gases in production than concrete and also uses recycled materials.

The bridges were delivered by a partnership between the City, Deakin’s Waurn Ponds Carbon Nexus facility, Australian engineering company Rocla and local manufacturer and engineering solutions company Austeng.

Austeng managing director Ross George said the bridges had attracted a lot of attention from a range of industry organisations.

“Concrete accounts for eight per cent of the world’s CO2 emissions,” Mr George said.

“This geopolymer is a better engineering material than cement and concrete, but it’s got an incredibly low greenhouse footprint.

“It’s reinforced with glass fibre reinforced polymer, and so it doesn’t suffer from concrete cancer, so it’s got an incredibly long life.

“It’s great to see that the technology has been recognised by industry people.”

Councillor Peter Murrihy said the projects delivered environmental, financial and social benefits to the region.

“The Dell Eco Reef units help to build a healthier ecosystem along our coastlines, contain recycled materials and also protect humans from the fallout of storm surges and erosion,” Cr Murrihy said.

“Council was keen to encourage sustainable innovation as well as delivering safe and accessible infrastructure at Cowies Creek, by inviting companies to come up with solutions to the costly maintenance and waste problem associated with traditional bridges.”