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 Chapter 16 - Ecologically sustainable development

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Ecologically sustainable development

The department reports under section 516A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 on how its activities accord with, and its outcomes contribute to, the principles of ecologically sustainable development, as well as the effect of its activities on the environment.

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

The department also addresses the principles of 'inter-generational equity' and 'improved valuation, pricing and incentive mechanisms' by applying the Chief Executive Instructions on Environmental Management and the Green Lease Schedule. The department is consolidating and implementing an Environmental Management System in accordance with ISO14001. Principles b and d of section 3A of the Act, which relate to scientific certainty and biological diversity respectively, are generally of limited application to the department's activities.

Energy and water at 3-5 National Circuit Barton

The department's premises at 3-5 National Circuit are the outcome of the first Commonwealth green lease to be negotiated. Under the National Australian Built Environment Rating System, the premises have achieved a 5 star rating for energy and a 4.5 star rating for water.

Green strategies

The department has implemented a number of strategies to minimise impact on the environment, including:

  • an electronic document management system to reduce the need to print and retain paper copies of most documents
  • web-based information sharing tools, such as Govdex, that reduce the need to edit, print and retain paper copies of documents
  • virtualising server hardware to reduce energy consumption
  • the FollowME Print facility, which reduces the amount of paper and toner being used
  • recycling facilities in work areas, as well as paper recycling in utility rooms
  • 100 per cent recyclable A4 and A3 paper
  • reviewing leased buildings and cooperating and encouraging building owners to improve energy performance
  • using a smart lighting system that activates only when areas are occupied
  • ensuring that any new leases entered into comply with the government's energy policy
  • procuring energy-efficient equipment and lighting solutions.

The department uses secure and non-secure videoconferencing facilities to conduct a range of business activities. The use of videoconferencing has reduced the need for local and interstate travel.

Ecologically sustainable ICT

The whole-of-government Australian ICT Sustainability Plan is being implemented. The Plan mandates environmental standards for information and communications technology acquisitions and energy targets. Further information on the ICT Sustainability Plan can be found at www.environment.gov.au/sustainability/government/ictplan/index.html.

Events for the environment

The department participated in Earth Hour 2012 on 31 March 2012 by reducing lighting within its buildings to emergency lighting only. This activity continues to raise awareness among staff about ways they can help take action on climate change.

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