Online version of the 2013-14 Department of Health Annual Report

3.8: Ecologically Sustainable Development and Environmental Performance

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

Page last updated: 17 July 2019

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 2013-14 Accorded with ESD Principles [Section 516A(6)(a)]

Of the legislation administered by the Department in 2013-14, 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 activities including genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

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

In 2013-14, 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 GMOs into the environment. The Regulator imposed licence conditions to protect the environment, and used extensive powers to monitor and enforce those conditions.

In 2013-14, the Department continued its commitment to ecologically sustainable development by ensuring that it effectively delivered corporate operations while minimising environmental impact. This included a methodical approach to planning, implementing and monitoring the Department’s environmental performance through programmes and policies in accordance with current legislation, Whole-of-Government requirements and environmental best practice.

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

In 2013-14, the Department’s key environmental management initiatives were aimed at reducing consumption of energy, increasing recycling efforts to minimise 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 2013-14, the Department maintained an 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, and complying with legal and Whole-of-Government 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 and Efficiency

The Department continued to decrease its electricity consumption, consuming 40,575 gigajoules in 2013-14 compared with 40,637 gigajoules in 2012-13. This figure includes sites occupied by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), the OGTR, the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS), as well properties occupied by former Health portfolio programmes which have since been transferred to other agencies as part of Machinery of Government arrangements. From 1 July 2014, energy consumption for former Health programmes will be reported by the relevant agency.

Figure 3.8.1: Electricity Consumption (gigajoules) from 2011-12 to 2013-14

Figure 3.8.1 is a horizontal bar chart which shows a decrease in electricity consumption by the Department from 2011-12 to 2013-14. Electricity consumption was 40,575 gigajoules in 2013-14 compared with 43,524 gigajoules in 2011-12.

The Department reports its energy consumption against core performance indicators established under the Energy Efficiency in Government Operations (EEGO) Policy, which aims to improve overall Australian Government energy performance.

Office Tenant Light and Power

The Department was required to meet the target of 7,500 megajoules per person, per annum (MJ/person/annum) for tenant light and power by June 2011 under the EEGO Policy. The Department met the target by the due date and has continued to outperform these requirements for the subsequent years including achieving 4,971.50 (MJ/person/annum) for 2013/14 which is detailed in the table below.

Table 3.8.1: Office Tenant Light and Power 2013-14
Agency
Energy (MJ)
Area (mē)
MJ/mē
People
MJ/Person
Department of Health
18,778,039
84,432
222
3,784
4,962
TGA
939,720
2,485
378
146
6,436
NICNAS
195,461
1,346
145
83
2,355
OGTR
266,865
1,080
247
53
5,035
Aged Care Commissioner1
83,770
344
244
10
8,377
Total
20,263,854
89,686
2262
4,076
4,9723

1 In future, this will be reported by the Department of Social Services.
2 Total MJ/mē (226) represents the energy consumption in the Department’s office tenancies (20,263,854) divided by the entire office floor space measured in square metres (89,686), rather than the cumulative total of values in the MJ/m2 column.
3 Total MJ/person (4,972) represents the energy consumption by the Department (20,263,854) divided by the total number of people (4,076), rather than the cumulative total of values in the MJ/person column.

Table 3.8.2: Office Tenant Light and Power: MJ/Person (% change) from 2010-11 to 2013-14
2009-10 to 2010-11
2010-11 to 2011-12
2011-12 to 2012-13
2012-13 to 2013-14
-33.05%
10.48%
-11.55%
16.98%
Non-Office Buildings: Electricity

The Department occupies sites used for a purpose other than office space (eg. storage). There is no electricity consumption target for properties in this category. However, the Department has decreased its electricity consumption in its non-office buildings as detailed in the table below.

Table 3.8.3: Non-Office Buildings: Electricity 2013-14
Agency
Energy (MJ)
Area (mē)
MJ/mē
Department of Health
261,986
1,050
250
TGA
20,049,866
18,524
1,082
Total
20,311,852
19,574
1,0381

1 Total MJ/m2 for electricity (1,038) represents the Department’s total electricity consumption in non-office buildings (20,311,852) divided by the total area of non-office floor space (19,574), rather than the cumulative total of values in the MJ/m2 column.

Table 3.8.4: Non-Office Buildings: Electricity MJ/m2 (% change) from 2010-11 to 2013-14
2009-10 to 2010-11
2010-11 to 2011-12
2011-12 to 2012-13
2012-13 to 2013-14
3.33%
1.98%
-3.19%
-1.40%
Non-Office Buildings: Gas

Of the Department’s non-office buildings, one site utilised natural gas. Whilst there is no gas consumption target for properties which fall under this category, the Department decreased its gas consumption in its non-office building as detailed in the table below.

Table 3.8.5: Non-Office Buildings: Natural Gas 2013-14
Agency
Energy (MJ)
Area (mē)
MJ/mē
TGA
18,254,148
18,523
985
Table 3.8.6: Non-Office Buildings: Natural Gas MJ/m2 (% change) from 2010-11 to 2013-14
2009-10 to 2010-11
2010-11 to 2011-12
2011-12 to 2012-13
2012-13 to 2013-14
21.03%
5.21%
3.31%
-4.55%
Energy Performance Standards

The EEGO Policy contains minimum energy performance standards for Government office buildings as a strategy for achieving the above energy intensity targets. This ensures that Departments progressively improve their performance through the procurement and ongoing management of energy efficient office buildings and environmentally sound equipment and appliances.

As part of its strategic accommodation plan, the Department ensures that, where applicable, it occupies buildings which meet the recommended National Australian Built Environment Rating Scheme (NABERS) rating of 4.5 stars and above and contain a Green Lease Schedule. The following table details the Department’s occupied buildings during 2013-14 for which base building NABERS ratings achieved the recommended target.

Table 3.8.7: NABERS Ratings
Property
Rating
Canberra Central Office (Sirius Building)
5.5
South Australian Regional Office
5
Northern Territory Regional Office
5
Victorian Regional Office
4.5
Canberra Central Office (Scarborough House)
4.5
Queensland Regional Office
4.5
Tasmanian Regional Office
4.5

Energy saving initiatives in the Department’s leased property portfolio include T5 and movement activated sensor lighting, double glazed windows and energy efficient heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems.

Sustainable Energy Initiatives

The Department accessed the Whole-of-Government electricity supply contract for the majority of its sites within the ACT and NSW, which includes 10 per cent greenpower.

The Department’s Desktop Futures Programme replaced the desktop computers with hosted virtual desktops and has resulted in the Department achieving the ICT Sustainability Plan end user target of 400kWh per user per annum (kWh/user/annum) by 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 participated in Earth Hour 2014 by switching off building lights, computers, monitors and office equipment for all its sites around Australia.

Waste Management

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

In the majority of the Department’s offices, segregated waste streams to improve management of general waste, commingled recycling, organic recycling and paper and cardboard recycling have been implemented. Further recycling efforts include printer and toner cartridges, mobile phones and battery recycling which ensure that these items are diverted from landfill.

In 2013-14, the Department reduced waste disposed from its Central Offices by 20.9 per cent compared to the previous year and recycled more than half its total waste. General waste sent to landfill also decreased by 14.6 per cent as per the table below.

Table 3.8.8: Waste Reporting from 2011-12 to 2013-14
Waste (tonnes)
General Waste
Commingled Recycling
Paper & Cardboard Recycling
Organic Recycling
Total (tonnes)
2011-12
107.6
11.9
80.6
2.6
202.7
2012-13
144.5
42.1
125.3
2.7
314.6
2013-14
123.3
40.8
81.3
3.3
248.7

The Department held a ‘Clean for Green’ day in early 2014 to encourage staff to recycle excess stationery and office furniture for reuse. A large quantity of good quality stationery was recovered and made available to staff for reuse. Recycling stationery is both financially and environmentally responsible and assists the Department to reduce its carbon footprint, by helping to eliminate excess waste going to landfill while decreasing demand on resources and energy associated with purchasing new items. As part of ‘Clean for Green’ day, the Department also recycled unrequired furniture and approximately 4.12 tonnes of scrap metal.

The Department has a centrally managed paper supply which monitors the type of paper and quantity purchased. This ensures that the Department complies with the Whole-of-Government ICT Sustainability Plan’s requirement of 100 per cent post-consumer recycled paper being used by Commonwealth agencies. The Department purchases 100 per cent post-consumer recycled paper as part of the Whole-of-Government Stationery and Office Supplies arrangement. The Department has decreased its paper consumption by 20.3 per cent from 46,101 reams in 2012-13 to 36,736 reams in 2013-14.

Vehicle Fleet and Travel

The Australian Government Pool Fleet requires Australian Government Agencies work towards a voluntary target of 28 per cent of leased/pool vehicles meeting the 10.5 rating of the Green Vehicles Guide (GVG).

Under the Machinery of Government (MoG) arrangements, the Department transferred the majority of its fleet vehicles to the Department of Social Services on 1 January 2014.

The Department manages 10 vehicles post MoG which all meet the GVG rating, excluding one fit-for-purpose vehicle, which is a four wheel drive located in the Northern Territory. The Department’s fleet also includes seven hybrid vehicles.

The EEGO Policy recommends the Department purchase energy efficient vehicles and report on transport emissions as part of the core performance indicators. There is no target for passenger vehicles under the policy, though the Department has continued to decrease its megajoules per kilometre (MJ/km) as detailed in the table below.

Table 3.8.9: Fleet Vehicle Emissions 2013-14
Agency
Number of Vehicles
Diesel Oil
(L)
E-10 (Biofuel)
(L)
Petroleum (Unleaded
& Premium) (L)
Total
(MJ)
Distance Travelled (km)
MJ
/km
Health
10
618
695
2,023
110,833
39,948
2.77
MoG Vehicles Transferred
79
1,687
2,635
13,417
583,897
214,701
2.72
TGA
8
2,404
3,866
3,647
331,293
87,015
3.81
Total
97
4,710
7,196
19,089
1,026,023
341,664
3.001

1 Total MJ/km (3.00) represents the Department’s total fleet vehicle emissions (1,026,023) divided by the total distance travelled (341,664), rather than the cumulative total of values in the MJ/km column.

Table 3.8.10: Fleet Vehicle Emissions MJ/km (% change) from 2010-11 to 2013-14
2009-10 to 2010-11
2010-11 to 2011-12
2011-12 to 2012-13
2012-13 to 2013-14
-26.78%
-5.62%
-17.34%
23.40%

The Department has implemented video conferencing facilities nationally 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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