Online version of the 2012-13 Department of Health and Ageing Annual Report

3.9: Ecologically Sustainable Development

Page last updated: 29 October 2013

We are committed to making a positive contribution to ecologically sustainable practices

Section 516A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity and Conservation Act 1999 requires the Department to report on the following subsections of the Act in its Annual Report.

Activities of, and the Administration of Legislation by the Department during 2012-13 Accorded with ESD Principles [Section 516A(6)(a)]

Of the pieces of legislation administered by the Department in 2012-13, the Gene Technology Act 2000 was relevant to, and met ecologically sustainable principles.

The Gene Technology Regulator (the Regulator) administers the Gene Technology Act 2000. The Act aims to protect the health and safety of people and the environment by identifying risks posed by gene technology and managing those risks through regulating dealings with genetically modified organisms.

Outcome Contribution to Ecologically Sustainable Development [Section 516A(6)(b)]

In 2012-13, the Department, through the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR), continued to support the Regulator in regulating activities involving live and viable genetically modified organisms. These activities ranged from contained work in certified laboratories to releases of genetically modified organisms into the environment. The Regulator imposed licence conditions to protect the environment, and used extensive powers to monitor and enforce those conditions.

In 2012-13, the Department continued its commitment to ecologically sustainable development by ensuring that it effectively delivered corporate operations with minimised environmental impact. This included adopting a methodical approach to planning, implementing and monitoring the Department’s environmental performance through programs and policies that are in accordance with current legislation, whole-of-government requirements and reflect environmental best practice.

The Effect of Departmental Activities on the Environment [Section 516A(6)(c)]

In 2012-13, the Department’s key environmental management initiatives were aimed at reducing consumption of energy, minimising waste going to landfill and maximising the efficient use of resources.

The Department is committed to making a positive contribution to sustainable practices and uses whole-of-government benchmark indicators and targets to assess and monitor environmental performance.

Measures the Department is Taking to Minimise the Impact of Activities on the Environment [Section 516A(6)(d)]

In 2012-13, the Department continued improvements on its Environmental Management System (EMS) in accordance with the International Standard ISO 14001:2004. The EMS tool assists the Department with monitoring and managing its environmental performance through identifying significant environmental aspects, assigning objectives and targets to control environmental impact, complying with legal requirements and developing Environmental Management Plans to manage and monitor these requirements.

Mechanisms for Reviewing and Increasing the Effectiveness of those Measures that Minimise the Impact of the Department on the Environment [Section 516A(6)(e)]

Energy Consumption

In 2012-13, the Department consumed 40,637 gigajoules of electricity compared to 43,637 gigajoules in 2011-12. This includes sites occupied by the Department, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator and the Office of the Aged Care Commissioner.

The Department has continued to exceed the Energy Efficiency in Government Operations target of 7,500 megajoules per person per annum (MJ/person) for tenant light and power by achieving approximately 4,250 MJ/person in 2012-13.

Energy saving initiatives in the Department’s leased property portfolio includes T5 and movement activated sensor lighting, double glazed windows and energy efficient heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems. This ensures that the National Australian Built Environmental Rating System (NABERS) and Greenstar ratings are achieved and upheld. As part of its strategic accommodation plan, the Department ensures it occupies buildings which meet the recommended NABERS rating of 4.5 stars and above.

The following table details the Department’s base building NABERS ratings that have achieved the recommended target:

Building NABERS Rating
Sirius Building, Canberra 5.5
Elizabeth Street, Sydney 5.5
Waymouth Street, Adelaide 5.0
Woods Street, Darwin 5.0
Scarborough House, Canberra 4.5
Melville Street, Hobart 4.5
Ann Street, Brisbane 4.5
Collins Street, Melbourne 4.5
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The Department accesses the whole-of-government electricity supply contract for the majority of its sites within the ACT and NSW, which includes 10% greenpower.

In 2012-13, the Department replaced physical desktop computers with hosted virtual desktops. This has resulted in the Department achieving the ICT Sustainability Plan end user target of 400kWh per user per annum (kWh/user/annum) in 2012. The Department is implementing further ICT energy savings initiatives and is confident in achieving the target of 250kWh/user/annum in 2015.

The Department also participated in Earth Hour 2013 by switching off building lights, computers, monitors and office equipment for all its sites around Australia and encouraging staff and their families to join in at home.

Waste Management and Recourse Efficiency

The Department is committed to the protection of the environment through implementation of efficient and effective waste management programs.

In the majority of the Department’s offices, segregated waste streams including general waste, commingled recycling, organic recycling and paper and cardboard recycling are in place. Further recycling efforts include printer and toner cartridges, mobile phones and battery recycling which ensures that these items do not end up in landfill.

In 2012-13, the Department recycled more than half its total waste, with general waste sent to landfill decreasing by 15.3% and recycling increasing by 78.9% from 2011-12 to 2012-13.

Waste (tonnes) General Waste Commingled Recycling Paper & Cardboard Recycling Organic Recycling
2011-12 170.6 11.9 80.6 2.6
2012-13 144.5 42.1 125.3 2.7

The Department commenced purchasing 100% post-consumer recycled paper on 1 March 2013. The Department has decreased its paper consumption by 27.5% from 63,624 reams in 2011-12 to 46,101 reams in 2012-13.

The Department operates an excess stationary store which encourages staff to recycle and reuse existing stationary before ordering new supplies. The store aims to reduce excess waste going to landfill and helps to decrease the demand on natural resources and energy associated with producing, packaging and transporting these goods.

Vehicle Fleet and Travel

During 2012-13, the Department maintained a fleet of 58 vehicles. This is a decrease from 61 vehicles the previous year. The fleet contained 56 vehicles that met the Green Vehicle Guide (GVG) score of 10.5 including 22 hybrid vehicles. The vehicles scoring below the GVG score are fit for purpose vehicles used in rural and remote areas. The Department’s vehicles procurement procedures state that all new or replacement vehicles must meet the GVG score to ensure compliance in the future.

The Department introduced video conferencing facilities nationally in 2012-13 to reduce the need for travel.

Water Conservation

The Department occupies buildings which are fitted with a range of water-saving technologies including low-flow taps and showers, dual-flush cisterns and waterless or low-flow urinals and grey water systems.

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