Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, 2008
Managing the department (continued)
This section is presented in accordance with the requirements of section 516A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
Section 516A requires government departments to report on:
- how their activities accord with the principles of ecologically sustainable development (subsection 6a)
- how their outcomes contribute to ecologically sustainable development (subsection 6b)
- the environmental impacts of their operations during the year, and measures taken to minimise the impacts (subsections 6c, d and e).
The department administers the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and the Natural Heritage Trust of Australia Act 1997, both of which support the principles of conserving biodiversity and protecting the environment.
Examples of how the department applies the principles of ecologically sustainable development are summarised in the table below. More details on specific programs are contained in other chapters of this annual report.
The Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts is the lead Australian Government agency for developing and implementing national policy, programs and legislation to protect and conserve the natural environment. One of the key functions of the department is to promote and support ecologically sustainable development.
The department’s outcomes contribute to ecologically sustainable development as follows:
Outcome 1: Protecting and conserving the environment helps to maintain the ecological processes on which life depends.
Outcome 2: Australia’s Antarctic interests include a strong focus on protecting the Antarctic environment, and managing the sustainable use of marine resources.
Outcome 3: Australia’s water resources are managed and used sustainably and efficiently.
|Integration principle: decision-making processes should effectively integrate both long-term and short-term economic, environmental, social and equitable considerations||Integrated natural resource management: The department develops and invests in natural resource management plans and other strategies to maintain ecosystems, including the regional component of the Natural Heritage Trust and bioregional marine plans. These plans integrate long-term and short-term economic, environmental, social and equitable considerations
Integrated reporting: The department publishes its own sustainability report and State of the Environment report
|Precautionary principle: if there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation||Environmental impact assessments: The department applies the precautionary principle to prevent serious environmental damage when assessing the possible environmental impacts of proposed actions. Assessments must often be made in the absence of full scientific certainty, most notably through the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, and through chemical and gene technology assessment schemes
National response to climate change: The department develops Australia’s national and international response to the threat of climate change in the absence of full scientific certainty. It manages for uncertainty, including preparing Australia for unavoidable climate change impacts
|Intergenerational principle: the present generation should ensure that the health, diversity and productivity of the environment is maintained or enhanced for the benefit of future generations||Pollution prevention: The department applies laws and National Environment Protection Measures to prevent environmentally harmful substances entering the environment. Laws include the Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Act 1981, the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989, and the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989
Whole-of-government policy development: The department seeks to ensure that environmental protection is appropriately considered in the development of other Australian Government policies, including major energy and water reforms
Community capacity building: The department administers the Australian Government’s major natural resource management programs that have an environmental focus, including the Natural Heritage Trust (now Caring for our Country). These programs increase the capacity of Australians to conserve ecosystems for future generations
|Biodiversity principle: the conservation of biological diversity and ecological integrity should be a fundamental consideration in decision-making||Biodiversity conservation: The department applies laws for the conservation of biodiversity to protect wildlife and places with environmental values, including the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, and through the Natural Heritage Trust, marine protected areas, terrestrial parks and reserves|
|Valuation principle: improved valuation, pricing and incentive mechanisms should be promoted||Conservation incentives: The department promotes incentives for protecting wildlife and habitats on private land through covenants. It supports fishing industry adjustment processes to reduce pressures on the marine environment
Waste reduction incentives: The department provides incentives for more efficient use of resources. This includes markets for waste products, such as: used lubricating oils, water efficiency labelling, and product stewardship programs to reduce plastic bag consumption and to recycle used oil
The Sustainability in Government program aims to achieve improvements in the contributions made by the public sector to sustainability (particularly ecological sustainability), through actions including better environmental management, energy efficiency, public reporting and sustainable purchasing.
The department helps agencies to develop and implement ISO14001 environmental management systems and to integrate environmental considerations into public procurement decisions. During 2007–08 the department:
- released the report ‘Energy Use in the Australian Government Operations 2005-2006’. This report outlines the levels of energy usage and emissions for the Australian Government at both a whole-of-government and an individual agency/department level. It encourages individual agencies to improve their performance over time and meet the targets already set under the Energy Efficiency in Government Operations (EEGO) policy
- produced a set of generic fact sheets to assist Australian Government Agencies to reduce energy usage in commercial office buildings
- conduced an Energy Forum for Australian Government agencies to facilitate energy efficiency uptake and behaviour change
- worked alongside the Department of Defence to establish more comprehensive metering and monitoring of selected key defence bases, as part of EEGO policy
- negotiated an increase to 10% in the proportion of greenpower purchased under the whole-of-government electricity contract for agencies in the ACT
- negotiated energy efficiency strategies amongst stakeholders of Australian Government public buildings, laboratories and computer centres as part of EEGO policy.
The department coordinates and provides support to enable agencies to report against National Environment Protection Measures (NEPM). Activities this year included convening a workshop for Government agencies to work though reporting responsibilities, and simplifying reporting procedures, and coordinating and drafting the Commonwealth’s NEPM implementation annual report. During 2007–08:
- access to the model Environmental Management System (EMS), developed for use by Australian Government agencies, was enhanced by ensuring the document is available on the DEWHA website in both PDF and Word formats
- departmental officers attended the Government Agency Environmental Network (GAEN) forums held in Canberra to provide policy and technical support to agencies that are operating or planning to set up an agency EMS.
The following tables summarise the environmental performance of the department’s four major operational areas in 2007–08:
- head offices in the John Gorton Building, the Burns Centre and Farrell Place in Canberra and the Fyshwick and Queanbeyan warehouses
- Australian Antarctic Division in Tasmania and the Australian Antarctic Territory
- Parks Australia Division
- Supervising Scientist Division in Darwin.
|General||Consumption of tenant light and power was 4,907 megajoules per person per year. Consumption is well within the revised Australian Government energy use target of 7,500 megajoules per person per year|
|Environmental management system||The Department’s Canberra based Environmental Management System (EMS) has maintained its ISO 14001: 2004 accreditation and continues to operate, and develop effectively, an eco-efficient business philosophy
Two ‘Top Management Review’ meetings were held, managed by the Corporate Strategies Division (CSD). In these meetings senior Departmental management gave input and endorsement for EMS activities in the environmental performance of the Department. Aspects of the EMS have also been included in the online orientation program for all new staff
|Energy (electricity)||The department extended its energy contract for the supply of 100% green energy to the John Gorton Building (JGB) and 5 Farrell Place in Civic
Tenant Light and Power (TLP) savings initiatives include staff awareness, energy efficiency reminder signage, lighting system control, and reducing the number of lighting units used. Through heightened staff awareness, EMS auditing and ‘ECONet’
Inspections, and energy efficiency measures are evaluated continuously.
|Transport||The Ministerial Office is currently trialling a fuel efficient ‘hybrid’ Toyota Prius, on loan from the Departmental fleet.
The Department’s vehicle fleet achieved an average greenhouse and air pollution rating of 11.2 out of 20. This rating exceeds the target of a 10.5 set for all Government fleet vehicles.
The Department’s reporting methodology for the vehicle fleet has also been improved to increase the accuracy of reporting.
|Greenhouse gas emissions||The department continues to work towards minimising its greenhouse gas emissions. Total net greenhouse gas emissions resulting from electricity use, vehicle fuel consumption and organic waste disposal have fallen from 665,670 kilograms in 2006–07 to 351,640 kilograms. This is due to a decrease in the use of fuel for business travel as well as a move to a more energy efficient building at Farrell place, serviced by green power. These factors combined with an increase in staff numbers in Canberra offices has resulted in a drop in greenhouse gas emissions to around 255 kg per person per year.|
|Water||The John Gorton Building has had flow restricting plumbing installed to ensure water flow throughout the building does not exceed 9 litres per minute. A follow-up water audit is scheduled for 2008–09. The new Farrell Place building has water saving features, such as waterless urinals|
|Waste (including paper)||Internal waste audits, undertaken in May 2008, confirm that around 87% of all waste is being recycled, with potential for further improvement
Waste being collected through the organics recycling stream has increased by around 9% indicating a reduction in waste going to landfill
The mobile phone recyling program was expanded by installing a mobile phone collection receptacle in the café within the JGB. This initiative collected a total of 61 kg of used mobile phones.
Bins made from recycled milk containers were purchased for use in the café within the JGB
The Department disposed of 423.5 kg of fluorescent tubes, which were recycled, diverting this waste from landfill. While fluorescent tubes remain the most commonly used lighting source in the JGB, the established collection system ensures that the small amounts of mercury found within the spent tubes are correctly collected and processed by a specialist treatment facility interstate
|Green procurement||The department has renewed its contract for the supply of 100% accredited green power to the John Gorton Building, and will continue to source green power where possible for other sites. Currently the department uses 60% recycled content print paper in its printers and photocopiers. Opportunities to use 100% recycled paper are being explored. The department is committed to further integrating environmental principles into procurement processes|
|Other||The department has begun work on including its new major building at Farrell Place in its environmental management system for Canberra-based offices
The department maintains its status as a Greenhouse Challenge Plus member.
The Environmental Coordination Team continues to participate in the Government Agencies Environment Network, to facilitate better environmental performance across Australian Government departments through collaboration. The team has engaged consultants to update the department’s model EMS so that it is compliant with the latest ISO 14001 standard. The new model will provide agencies and office based businesses with a tool to develop a simplified EMS suited to their operations.
The department’s environmental network, the Environmentally Conscious Officer Network (ECONet), remains a valuable resource in raising staff awareness, identifying areas for improvement and facilitating EMS implementation.
|General||The Australian Antarctic Division complied with all applicable environmental laws and agreements, and required compliance with them by participants in activities supported by the Australian Antarctic Division, by other Australian visitors to the Antarctic, and by our contractors and suppliers.
The Australian Antarctic Division has implemented measures to prevent or minimise pollution, waste and other human impacts in all environments in which we operate.
|EMS||The Australian Antarctic Division continues to operate a certified Environmental Management System to the international standard AS/NZS ISO 14001. This system ensures that management measures to protect the environment are implemented for those aspects of the organisation’s activities most likely to have more than a negligible environmental effect. Australia is a major proponent of this systematic approach to environmental management through the International Committee for Environmental Protection.
For the Australian Antarctic Division to meet its triennial certification requirements, the external auditor was transported to the Australian Antarctic Territory to conduct a successful onsite surveillance audit of Casey Station and the new Wilkins Aerodrome in January 2008.
|Energy (electricity)||The offices in Kingston, Tasmania consumed 4.181 million kWh of electricity|
|Transport||The Australian Antarctic Division’s Kingston based fleet vehicles consumed 10,358 litres of fuel. The fleet includes a Toyota Prius hybrid vehicle.
Vehicular fuel consumption at the Australian Antarctic Divisions four stations for 2007–08 was 136,371 litres, a decrease of approximately 28% from the previous year. This was due to a reduction in vehicle hours required for the construction of the Wilkins blue ice runway near Casey station.
|Greenhouse gas emissions||The division’s greenhouse gas emissions were 18,365 tonnes.|
|Water||The Kingston offices consumed 9,449 kilolitres of water.
The Australian Antarctic Division’s four stations in Antarctica (3) and Macquarie Island (1) consumed 4,854 kilolitres of water.
|Waste (including paper)||The division reused or recycled 15 per cent of waste, landfilled 31 per cent and treated and disposed of 54 per cent of all waste.
The warehouse ordered 5,044 reams of A4 and A3 paper on behalf of the Kingston office and stations.
|Green Procurement||The division’s purchasing accords with departmental guidelines.|
|Other||Fuel usage for power and heating at the stations was 1,628,916 litres, a reduction of 2.8% from the previous year.|
|General||Management plans for individual protected areas include environmental management goals and prescriptions.|
|EMS||In 2007 Booderee National Park introduced actions to minimise the carbon foot-print of the Park. Some initial and immediate short term actions were introduced and had a dramatic impact, with a 50% reduction in water use and a 40% reduction in electricity used within the Park. In May 2008 Booderee National Park engaged a firm to undertake Booderee’s first formal Carbon Emissions Audit. The audit identified a number of priority areas to further reduce carbon outputs, which will be progressively implemented.|
|Energy (electricity)||Electricity use was reduced by 11.4 % from last year across Parks Australia Division.
The Australian National Botanic Gardens, which consume 57% of Parks Australia’s total purchased electricity, is continuing to investigate and implement more efficient energy use options. 10% of contracted electricity purchased by the Australian National Botanic Gardens is Green Power under a bulk government agency purchasing arrangement.
|Transport||A BioDiesel (B5) trial commenced on 1 January 2008 in Booderee National Park. 6 vehicles ran on normal diesel for the first 3 months and then commenced running on BioDiesel. BioDiesel will be used for 12 months and regular reports will be made on the environmental performance and mechanical implications of the fuel.|
|Greenhouse gas emissions||Greenhouse gas emissions are down by 12%. This change is due in part to a reduction in purchased and generated electricity and a reduction in the use of diesel.|
|Water||Booderee National Park’s water usage was down 50% compared with 2006–07. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park’s water usage was down 52.2% compared with 2006–07 (The Park and the Mutitjulu community together consumed 74,732 kilolitres). The Australian National Botanic Gardens consumed 155,030 kilolitres, down 17%.
The Australian National Botanical Gardens (ANBG) continued to implement its water management strategy, including the installation of soil moisture sensors, rain water tanks, latest technology irrigation emitters and drip systems and ball values which reduce low end water loss from sprinkler systems. Captured runoff water is being used to water large garden bed areas above the Tasmanian garden and to circulate through the pond system. The ANBG will continue to implement more water management strategies throughout 2008–09 and into the future, including reuse of more runoff water on site, the expansion of the fogging system into the rainforest gully and water saving strategies within buildings.
The ANBG commenced the project to design and construct new potable water infrastructure for on-site buildings to separate out the non-potable water for the irrigation system.
|Waste (including paper)||At the Australian National Botanic Gardens, where statistics are available, 19,152 litres of co-mingled waste and 129,360 litres of cardboard were recycled.
Available data suggests staff used 5.2 reams of paper per person per year, down from 5.9 reams last year.
|Green Procurement||Increased awareness and application of Parks Australia’s environmental purchasing guidelines in the Director of National Parks’ Chief Executive Instructions.|
|General||The division implements a range of measures to improve its environmental performance.|
|EMS||The division’s draft Environmental Management System was reviewed against ISO14001 standard certification requirements.|
|Energy (electricity)||Darwin office electricity usage increased by 5%.
Jabiru office electricity usage decreased by 28.5% due to the replacement of the building’s air-conditioning system.
|Transport||Total fuel usage by vehicles reduced by 29% while total distance travelled by vehicles decreased by 20%, due mainly to increased use of small aircraft.|
|Greenhouse gas emissions||Total greenhouse gas emissions were 784 tonnes of carbon dioxide.|
|Water||Water usage at the Darwin office increased by 163%. This was due to a change in metering arrangements implemented by the building owner.
Total water usage at the Jabiru Field Station increased by 93%. Some of this water was used by the aquaculture facility at the Jabiru Field Station as part of Environmental Research Institute of the Supervising Scientist (ERISS) research and monitoring activities.
A significant proportion of water is also used by Kakadu Native Plants, a local indigenous-owned business also operating out of the Jabiru site, for the cultivation and maintenance of plant supplies.
Current reticulation and metering arrangements at the Jabiru Field Station do not allow for separate recording of water consumption.
|Waste (including paper)||Greenhouse emissions produced from waste increased by 25%.
The amount of waste going to landfill increased by 8%.
Recycling of plastic and glass increased by 29% and recycling of paper and cardboard also increased significantly. The division has improved collection of recyclable waste by placing recycling bins in more convenient locations throughout the building. Battery and mobile phone recycling has also commenced.
The division recycles organic wastes through an on-site worm farm. The worm farm provides a source of live food for breeding populations of fish used in ERISS research programs.
Total paper usage increased by 11%, however, the division used 89% less virgin paper and 28% more recycled paper.
Instructions for duplex printing have been circulated to minimise the amount of paper used through printing.
|Green Procurement||The division purchases ‘green’ office, toiletry and cleaning products wherever possible.|
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