Department of the Environment and Water Resources, 2007
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 principles of ecologically sustainable development1 are central to the department's environment and natural heritage protection activities, all of which aim to conserve biodiversity and ecological integrity, and to maintain the health, diversity and productivity of the environment for the benefit of future generations.
The department administers the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and the Natural Heritage Trust of Australia Act 1997,
both of which explicitly recognise these principles.
Examples of how the department applies the principles of ecologically sustainable development are summarised in the table below. More details on specific programmes are contained in other chapters of this annual report.
The Department of the Environment and Water Resources is the lead Australian Government agency for developing and implementing national policy, programmes 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, as well as managing the sustainable use of Antarctic marine resources.
|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, often 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, and 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 programmes that have an environmental focus, including the Natural Heritage Trust. These programmes 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, including markets for waste products such as used lubricating oils, water efficiency labelling, and product stewardship programmes to reduce plastic bag consumption and to recycle used oil
The department is a strong advocate of environmental accountability and sustainability. Through the Sustainability in Government programme, the department supports Australian Government departments and agencies to improve 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. In 2006—07 the department produced:
- a water efficiency guide for building managers, owners, tenants and maintenance staff on how to reduce water consumption and increase water reuse in offices and public buildings. The guide contains national benchmarks for best practice water consumption. The rating scales are consistent with the National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) and the Australian Building Greenhouse Rating scheme. Water savings of 30—40per cent are often achievable in buildings that comply with best practice
- national benchmarks for average and best practice water use in Australian hospitals. The benchmarks are based on national data from 129hospitals. The benchmarks will be released as part of the NABERS Hospitals Tool
- the third edition of the Ecologically Sustainable Development Design Guide for Offices and Public Buildings. This guide has been popular with agencies and the property industry as a useful introduction to how green building design can deliver better environmental outcomes
- the first edition of the Ecologically Sustainable Development Operations Guide. This guide provides information to owners, managers and tenants on how to improve the environmental performance of existing buildings through better facilities management
- a suite of Green Lease Schedules that underpin the green leasing requirement for Australian Government office buildings. These schedules create mutual contractual obligations between building owners and Australian Government tenants to achieve the agreed energy targets over the term of the lease. The schedules also have the flexibility to include other sustainability measures such as water conservation and waste reduction initiatives.
The department reports in detail on its environmental, social and economic performance in a sustainability report, using performance indicators provided by the Global Reporting Initiative (see www.globalreporting.org ). The department produced its third sustainability report this year. The report is available on the department's website.
The following tables summarise the environmental performance of the department's four major operational areas in 2006—07:
- head offices in the John Gorton Building, the Edmund Barton Building and Farrell Place in Canberra and the Fyshwick warehouse
- Australian Antarctic Division in Hobart and the Australian Antarctic Territory
- Parks Australia Division
- Supervising Scientist Division in Darwin.
|General||Consumption of tenant light and power dropped slightly to around 5,250 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 environmental management system, which covers Canberra-based operations, was re-certified in May 2006 to the upgraded international environmental management system standard ISO 14001:2004|
|Energy (electricity)||The Department of Finance and Administration is undertaking an Australian Building Greenhouse Rating (ABGR) of the John Gorton Building (which it owns) to determine its ABGR rating out of 5
The department renewed its energy contract for the supply of 100% green energy to the John Gorton Building and will continue to source green energy for its significant tenancies, including 5 Farrell Place in Civic
|Transport||Two new Toyota Prius hybrid fuel efficient vehicles were included in the pool fleet so that the 10-vehicle fleet now includes 8 hybrid vehicles. The remaining 2 special purpose vehicles are for use by the warehouse at Fyshwick and the Australian National Botanic Gardens
The department's reporting methodology for vehicle use is being reviewed, in consultation with Lease Plan, to improve the accuracy and increase the frequency of reporting
|Greenhouse gas emissions||The department continues to work towards minimising its greenhouse gas emissions. Due to an increase in gas consumption at the John Gorton Building, total greenhouse gas emissions have increased slightly to around 630 kg per person per year|
|Water||The Department of Finance and Administration successfully trialled microbial urine treatment cubes in urinals in the John Gorton Building. It is estimated that if the department adopts microbial treatment cubes in its urinals it will reduce the amount of water needed to flush urinals by 90%
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 2007 to determine water savings. The new Farrell Place building has water saving features, such as waterless urinals
|Waste (including paper)||An internal waste audit, undertaken in October 2006, confirms that around 70% of all waste is being recycled, with potential for further improvement
Problems were encountered in the performance of the recycled waste contractor, and their services were terminated. One consequence of this is a lack of reliable data for paper, cardboard and co-mingled waste for 2006-07. Paper purchase data suggest that paper consumption remains steady
Waste being collected through the organics recycling stream has increased by around 50% suggesting a reduction in waste going to landfill
The Environmental Coordination Team will continue to use and develop all available recycling services such as mobile phone, compact disk and polystyrene recycling
|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 is preparing for significant changes in building occupancy, and will develop environmental management systems for key Canberra-based offices including the new Farrell Place building
The department maintains its status as a Greenhouse Challenge Plus member. The possibility of broadening the scope of the agreement to include other departmental sites around Australia is being explored
The Environmental Coordination Team will participate in the Government Agencies Environment Network to facilitate better environmental performance across Australian Government departments through collaboration. The team is contacted frequently by other departments and business organisations seeking information and guidance on issues related to environmental management systems
Membership of the department's own environmental network the Environmentally Conscious Officer Network (ECONet) continues to strengthen. The ECONet is a valuable resource, raising staff awareness, identifying areas for improvement and facilitating environmental management system implementation
|General|| The division complied with all applicable environmental laws and agreements, and required compliance with them by participants in activities supported by the division, by other Australian visitors to the Antarctic, and by contractors and suppliers
The division implemented measures to prevent or minimise pollution, waste and other human impacts in all environments in which it operates
|Environmental management system||The external auditor conducted a surveillance audit in 2006 of the division's environmental management system to meet the requirements of the Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS ISO 14001:2004. The system has operated since 2002 and the current certification period will expire in September 2008. Due to changes to the 2006—07 shipping schedule, the external onsite audit of Casey station was deferred until the 2007—08 season. Station self assessments of projects were commenced this season|
|Energy (electricity)||The Kingston, Tasmania offices consumed 3.937 million kilowatt hours of electricity. Macquarie cargo facility consumed an additional 98,920 kilowatt hours|
|Transport||Vehicular fuel consumption was 190,673 litres, an increase of 18,000 litres. The increase is attributable to vehicle usage at Casey for construction of the inter-continental runway and construction and maintenance activities at Casey station. Casey used 155,648 litres of fuel; Davis, Mawson and Macquarie Island together used 35,025 litres|
|Greenhouse gas emissions||The division's greenhouse gas emissions were 15,810 tonnes, a 20% reduction from 2005—06 due to reduced shipping activity|
|Water|| The Kingston office consumed 7,390 kilolitres of water
The four stations used 5,764,988 litres of water
|Waste (including paper)|| The division reused or recycled 17% of waste, landfilled 48% and treated and disposed of 35% of all waste
The warehouse ordered 16,600 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 1,675,945 litres, a slight improvement from 2005—06. The wind turbines at Mawson provided a 25% fuel saving|
|General||Management plans for individual protected areas include environmental management goals and prescriptions|
|Environmental management systems||The Australian National Botanic Gardens, which consumes 50% of Parks Australia's total purchased electricity and the bulk of purchased water, is continuing to investigate and implement more efficient options for energy and water use|
|Energy (electricity)|| Electricity use was down by nearly 2.5% across the division
8% of contracted electricity purchased by the Australian National Botanic Gardens is green power under a bulk government agency purchasing arrangement
|Transport||A trial of 5% biodiesel commenced in Booderee National Park. Regular reports will be made on the environmental performance and mechanical implications of the fuel|
|Greenhouse gas emissions||Greenhouse gas emissions were down by 7.2% from 2005—06. The reduction is mainly due to being able to allocate fuel use more precisely between different government agencies. The other factor is that new vehicles and air-conditioning units are more efficient|
|Water|| Booderee National Park's water usage was down 23%. Uluru—Kata Tjuta National Park (including the Mutitjulu community) consumed 78,442 kilolitres and the Australian National Botanic Gardens consumed 187,894 kilolitres (up 13%) due to extra watering required during the drought
A water management strategy for the Australian National Botanic Gardens has been prepared and is being progressively implemented, including a project to commence in 2007—08 to design non-potable reticulation infrastructure and a way of separating non-potable water from potable water onsite to allow for non-potable water irrigation
|Waste (including paper)|| At the Australian National Botanic Gardens, where statistics are available, 77,952 litres of co-mingled waste and 129,360 litres of cardboard were recycled
Available data suggest staff used about 6 reams of paper per person per year, down from
8 reams in 2005—06
|Green procurement||The division increased awareness and application of Parks Australia's environmental purchasing guidelines in the Director of National Parks Chief Executive Instructions|
|General||The division's Darwin-based premises were audited in accordance with the requirements of Darwin International Airport, the owner of the building. An independent energy and water use audit was also conducted by the owner|
|Environmental management system||The division reviewed its environmental management system documentation in line with the department's environmental management system and Darwin International Airport's requirements|
|Energy (electricity)|| Darwin office electricity usage was down by 4%, although staff increased by 13%
Jabiru Office electricity usage was up by 4.4%. However, the backup generator was used less and no extra fuel was purchased
|Transport||Fuel usage was up by 12% and distance travelled by vehicles up by 22%. The increases are due in part to 2 extra vehicles being included in this year's figures|
|Greenhouse gas emissions||Greenhouse gas emissions were down by 4 tonnes. The lower emissions were achieved despite including small aircraft and extra vehicles in the reporting data|
|Water|| Water usage at the Darwin office was down 34% from 1,403 to 920 kilolitres
Water usage at the Jabiru office was 3,130 kilolitres. A large aquaculture area (part of the eriss research and monitoring programme) contributes significantly to the Jabiru Field Station water use
Kakadu Native Plants, a local Indigenous-owned business operating out of the Jabiru site, also uses a significant amount of water to culture and maintain plant supplies
|Waste (including paper)|| Greenhouse emissions produced from waste were down by 11%. The amount of landfill waste decreased. Plastic, glass, paper and cardboard recycling increased
To reduce landfill, staff sort waste, including toner cartridges, glass, paper and plastic products, into recycle bins. Organic waste is recycled through the worm farm that provides live feed for breeding populations of fish (purple spotted gudgeon) used for research purposes
Paper usage in the Darwin office was up by 26%, but usage per person only increased by 2%. The overall increase is partly due to the inclusion of extra staff from Parks Australia North in the data
The division purchased 28% less virgin paper and 37% more partly recycled paper
|Green procurement||It is the division's practice, where possible, to purchase 'green' stationery and toiletry products rather than standard products|
1 The principles of ecologically sustainable development are set out in sections 3A and (in the case of the precautionary principle) 391 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.