1: Ecologically sustainable development

The department is committed to improving its ecologically sustainable development and reports on its activities under section 516A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

The department’s environmental management activities were focused on reducing impacts from energy, water and paper consumption, waste, travel, transport and procurement policies and practices. We continue to evaluate and improve our operational efficiency to ensure that our activities contribute to successful long-term outcomes and to increase our understanding of sustainability beyond the environmental scope.

The department’s activities are consistent with the ecologically sustainable development principles (section 3A of the Act) that state ‘decision making processes should effectively integrate both long-term and short-term economic, environmental, social and equitable considerations’. More information on the environmentally sustainable development principles can be found at www.environment.gov.au/esd.

ICT Sustainability Plan

The Australian Government’s ICT Sustainability Plan 2010–2015 is a five-year plan that will assist Commonwealth agencies to better align their use of ICT with the government’s overall sustainability agenda.

Under this plan, we have targets, actions and reporting obligations for our ICT operations. More information on the sustainability plan is available at www.environment.gov.au.

Environmental performance

The environmental performance of the department is managed on its behalf by the Shared Services Centre. Due to the accommodation and operations of the department not being fully separated from the Department of Education and Training, an aggregated report for both departments is provided for 2014–15.

Environmental management is focused on reducing impacts from energy consumption, waste, water consumption, vehicle fleet, air travel, paper consumption and procurement policies and practices. The department’s progress is summarised in Tables 22 to 27.

Office and building energy use

The department constantly monitors and works to improve its performance in energy and resource efficiency. In 2014–15, the department again surpassed the Energy Efficiency in Government Operations Policy target of 7500 megajoules per person per year at 6876 megajoules per person for the year.

Improvement in the energy efficiency of data centre operations is expected through the data centre transition process that began in 2014–15. Moving departmental applications and systems out of older data centres, off legacy hardware and onto new platforms hosted at more efficient facilities, consistent with the directions set out in the Australian Government Data Centre Strategy 2010–2025, will help achieve this.

Continuing improvements to the energy efficiency of the department’s property portfolio, particularly the tenancy at 14 Mort Street, Canberra, are expected to achieve improvements in energy intensity in 2015–16.

Table 22 Summary of office and building energy use, 2013–14 and 2014–15
Indicator 2013–14 2014–15 Change (%)
Total office tenant light and power electricity consumption (kWh) 6,863,055 6,652,138 –3.17%
Total office tenant light and power energy consumption (MJ) 24,706,998 23,947,696 –3.17%
Office tenant light and power energy use per full-time equivalent (MJ/FTE) 6,432.44 6,875.59 +6.89%
Office tenant light and power energy use per square metre (MJ/m2) 222.68 220.61 –0.93%
Greenhouse emissions attributed to office tenant light and power energy use (tonnes/CO2-e) 6,087.30 5,230.90 –14.07%
Green power purchased, as a percentage of total electricity consumption 6.09% 9.19% +50.90%

kWh = kilowatt hours

MJ = mega joules

FTE = full-time equivalent

CO2-e = carbon dioxide equivalent.

Information and communications technology

Since the 2010 release of the Australian Government ICT Sustainability Plan 2010–2015, the department has reduced the running costs, resource consumption and environmental impacts of ICT operations through initiatives including the use of energy efficient monitors, virtual servers and print-on-demand for multifunction devices that default to duplex and black-and-white printing.

In 2014–15 there was a slight increase in desktop energy per end user (up from 213 kilowatt hours in 2013–14 to 287 in 2014–15), a slight increase in the number of desktop devices per end user (up from 1.82 in 2013–14 to 1.95 in 2014–15), and a decrease in the ratio of desktop computers to printers (from 13:1 in 2013–14 to 12:1 in 2014–15). These results are attributed to approved business demand for additional dual-monitor configurations, additional computers for users and the provision of additional printers for senior executives. The exemption of more desktop computers from power management has reduced the proportion of these devices that are powered off after hours from 93 per cent to 86 per cent.

Table 23 Summary of ICT sustainability, 2013–14 and 2014–15
Indicator 2013–14 2014–15 Change (%)
Desktop devices per end user (including laptops) 1.84 1.95 +6.0%
Desktop computers to printer ratio 13:1 12:1 –7.7%
Desktop computers off (or sleeping) after hours 93% 86% –7.5%
Desktop energy per end user (kWh per annum, averaged across agency) 231 287 +24.2%

Vehicle fleet and air travel

The average Green Vehicle Guide rating of the departments’ combined vehicle fleet improved slightly from last financial year, and the size of the fleet significantly decreased. This has led to a significant reduction in fuel consumption proportional to the reduction in the fleet size. Overall, the department maintained previous standards of fleet efficiency.

Total air kilometres travelled in 2014–15 were very similar to 2013–14, demonstrating that the significant reductions achieved in previous years are being maintained.

Table 24 Summary of vehicle fleet use, 2013–14 and 2014–15
Indicator 2013–14 2014–15 Change (%)
Total number of fleet vehicles 140 71 –49.3%
Average green vehicle rating of fleet 13.3 13.1 –1.5%
Total fuel purchased (kilolitres) 86.73 36.69 –57.70%
Total distance travelled (kilometres) 900,520 360,284 –59.99%
Average fuel consumption of vehicle fleet (litres/100 kilometres) 9.63 10.18 +5.71%
Total direct greenhouse emissions of fleet (tonnes CO2-e) 201.62 70.18 –65.19%

CO2-e = carbon dioxide equivalent.

Table 25 Summary of greenhouse emissions, 2013–14 and 2014–15
Indicator 2013–14 2014–15 Change (%)
Total greenhouse emissions (tonnes CO2-e) 6,288.92 5,301.08 –15.71%
Total greenhouse emissions per FTE (tonnes CO2-e/FTE) 1.64 1.52 –7.32%

CO2-e = carbon dioxide equivalent.

Table 26 Summary of air travel, 2013–14 and 2014–15
Indicator 2013–14 2014–15 Change (%)
Total number of flights 12,746 13,785 +8.15%
Total distance of flights (kilometres) 10,026,378 10,571,562 +5.44%

Resource efficiency and waste

Paper use fell by 21.52 per cent in 2014–15, from 7.9 reams per person per annum in 2013–14 to 6.2, reflecting the department’s efforts in increasing the use of electronic filing. Usage is now significantly below the Australian Government ICT Sustainability Plan 2010–2015 target of 9 reams per person per annum by July 2015.

The department continued to purchase recycled stock for all standard A4 and A3 paper. In 2014–15 82.49 per cent of all paper purchased had some recycled content and 64.53 per cent was either carbon neutral or 100 per cent post-consumer recycled stock.

The waste management system in Canberra continued to achieve very good results, with 25.8 tonnes of organic material diverted from landfill to vermiculture—reducing emissions and producing beneficial worm castings and compost.

Table 27 Summary of resource efficiency and waste, 2013–14 and 2014–15
Indicator 2013–14 2014–15 Change (%)
Office paper purchased by FTE (A4 reams/FTE) 7.9 6.2 –21.52%
Percentage of paper purchased with recycled content 97.90% 82.49% –15.74%
Office paper recycled (tonnes) 122.12 185.20 +51.65%
Total landfill waste produced (tonnes) 115.00 127.64 +10.99%
Total comingled recycling (tonnes) 61.43 57.95 –5.66%
Total organic recycling (tonnes) 25.10 25.80 +2.71%

FTE = full-time equivalent.