Annual Report 2007-2008
 

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Appendix 7

Ecologically sustainable development and environmental performance

This appendix comprises the department’s report on its ecologically sustainable development and environmental performance as required by section 516A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

How the activities of the department, and the administration of legislation by the department, accorded with the principles of ecologically sustainable development (ESD)

In pursuing the interests of Australia and Australians internationally, the department sought to the extent possible to ensure its policy activities and other operations accorded with and contributed to ESD principles. Relevant activities are found across a wide range of policy issues from multilateral environment agreements and international legal frameworks, to development assistance, public diplomacy and trade (see sub-output 1.1.9 for more information).

How the department’s outcomes contributed to ESD

The department’s four outcomes are:

1. Australia’s national interests protected and advanced through contributions to international security, national economic and trade performance and global cooperation

2. Australians informed about and provided access to consular and passport services in Australia and overseas

3. Public understanding in Australia and overseas of Australia’s foreign and trade policy and a positive image of Australia internationally

4. Efficient management of the Commonwealth overseas owned estate.

Outcome 1

The department contributed to ESD through participation in international negotiations across a range of policy areas related to the environment and sustainable development.

Outcome 2

Activities under this outcome do not directly contribute to ESD.

Outcome 3

The department’s Direct Aid Program supported modest, practical aid programs overseas, some of which contributed to ESD. We supported Clean up the World campaigns in a number of overseas locations through the public diplomacy programs of our posts.

Outcome 4

The department contributed to ESD in its management of the overseas estate.

Effect of the department’s activities on the environment

The department’s operations in Canberra, our overseas posts and state and territory offices have a range of impacts on the environment. Measures to address these impacts are outlined below.

Measures being taken by the department to minimise the impact of its activities on the environment

The department has retained Environmental Management System (EMS) certification for its activities in the R G Casey Building. On 30 May 2008, the department’s accredited external EMS auditor conducted a surveillance audit against the international standard, ISO14001:2004 and found that we remained in compliance. The auditor was satisfied that we continued to improve our environmental performance.

We demonstrated our commitment to the environment and the reduction of carbon emissions by participating in Earth Hour on 29 March 2008. While switching off non-essential lighting and equipment is an integral part of our daily EMS procedures, during Earth Hour we took measures to switch off additional lighting.

In the R G Casey Building, we took further steps to reduce carbon emissions, including: by replacing halogen and incandescent light bulbs with more energy efficient bulbs; personal heaters have been removed and prohibited as these impact on the department’s climate control system and increase energy consumption; and excess lighting has been removed, e.g. in basement car parks and in areas where natural lighting is sufficient. We continued to explore further means of reducing energy consumption, including through environmentally sustainable procurement. We sought to reduce emissions from vehicles through the establishment of an online Bulletin Board site to facilitate private staff transport arrangements for Bike Buddies and Car Pooling.

In April 2008, around 40 passports production staff were relocated to the R G Casey Building. Their activities, in particular the lamination of passports, consume more power than is required with normal office equipment, and also produce more heat, and therefore require additional air conditioning equipment, resulting in higher energy consumption. Dedicated metering has been installed to enable monitoring of consumption in this area.

We successfully trialled improved recycling and waste management procedures aimed at reducing waste material going to landfill. These procedures will be extended to further areas of the R G Casey Building in the next financial year.

The department continued to receive strong EMS support from Café Brindabella, located in the R G Casey Building. The cafe maintained its 20 cent levy on takeaway cups, aimed at reducing waste. Since 2004 $67 275 has been raised by the levy and the money has been donated to Greening Australia for the planting of Australian native trees in areas affected by the Canberra bushfires.

The department conducts its overseas property design and management in accordance with the requirements of the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines. As part of the tendering and evaluation process for project development and construction in the overseas estate, consultants are required to address ESD principles to enable evaluation panels to assess their management of these issues. As a part of project development, designers prepare a concept design report covering ecological aspects of projects, including energy design concepts. The department aims to not simply to meet local regulatory requirements but achieve best environmental practice in its projects.

Mechanisms for reviewing and increasing the effectiveness of these measures

The EMS measures the effectiveness of the department’s efforts to minimise the negative impacts of its operations on the environment. The EMS Committee meets to review environmental performance and to consider future improvements. Internal and external EMS audits are undertaken and there is regular monitoring of statistical data on waste. Energy consumption is monitored monthly, and comparisons of annual energy consumption are undertaken to assess the department’s performance in energy use reduction.

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