Appendix C—Ecologically Sustainable Development and Environmental Performance

The following summary of the Department's environmental management activities and performance is provided in accordance with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), which requires agencies to report on:

  • how their activities accord with, and their outcomes contribute to, the principles of ecologically sustainable development, and
  • the environmental impacts of their operations during the year and measures taken to minimise those impacts.

The Department undertakes all its activities, from corporate initiatives to departmental policies, programs and procedures, in accordance with the five principles (integration, precaution, intergeneration, biodiversity and valuation) set out in the EPBC Act.

Ecologically Sustainable Development

The goal of ecologically sustainable development is to maintain ecological processes while improving quality of life, in the short and long term.

Ecologically sustainable development was integral to the Department's two outcomes-infrastructure and transport-and to the Department's work, throughout 2012–13.

By linking transport performance outcomes to projected economic growth and sustainable development, the Department continued to influence the way development and maintenance of major road and rail infrastructure is funded in Australia. For more information on how the Department achieved this in 2012–13, see Chapter 3.

Under the Nation Building Program, the Department worked in partnership with state and territory transport agencies to ensure environmental issues were appropriately considered in identifying, designing and delivering infrastructure projects. Proponents were required to consider environmental, congestion, safety and amenity issues, as well as economic, market and infrastructure issues.

In 2011, the Australian Government released Our Cities, Our Future—a national urban policy for a productive, sustainable and liveable future. The National Urban Policy sets a framework of principles and priorities to guide the Australian Government's policy and investment in major cities to deliver greater productivity, sustainability and liveability.

In December 2012, the Department released the State of Australian Cities 2012, the third in a series of annual Australian Government publications. First launched in 2010, the annual state of Australian cities reports follow the same basic structure as the National Urban Policy, but each differs in exploring particular facets of population and settlement, productivity, sustainability and liveability in Australian cities. In 2012 the focus was on population growth and housing.

On behalf of the Australian Government, the Department advised on, and led national efforts to ensure that Australian transport systems were sustainable and efficient, as well as competitive, safe and secure. For more information on how the Department achieved this in 2012–13, see Chapter 4.

The Department played an active role in the International Civil Aviation Organization on global strategies to address the contribution of international aviation to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

The Department assessed the environmental, social and economic impacts of all airport master plans, major development plans and airport environment strategies which airport lessee companies were required to prepare and submit to the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport for approval under the Airports Act 1996. The Department advised the Minister on the extent to which these documents met the requirements of legislation, including assessments of environmental impacts and plans for dealing with them.

The Department continued to maintain software to assist airports and communities monitor and manage the environmental impacts of aircraft noise and emissions and for calculating the carbon footprint of aircraft operations.

The Department played a key role in protecting the marine environment for future generations by administering the annual Australian contribution to the International Maritime Organization and the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund. It also helped develop international standards for shipping in marine pollution and air quality.

The Department undertook a further review of the popular Green Vehicle Guide website The guide compares the environmental performance of all new light vehicles, including greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution emissions. Together with the fuel consumption calculator, this information enables consumers to better estimate annual fuel consumption and carbon dioxide equivalent emissions and make informed decisions about their personal impacts on the environment.

In October 2012, the Department released a discussion paper on whether Australia should adopt a new Australian Design Rule based on Euro VI emission standards. If enacted, this would significantly reduce allowable levels of air pollutants from new heavy vehicles, including up to a 66 per cent reduction in harmful particulate emissions from new heavy-duty diesel vehicles.

The Department continued consultation and analysis supporting the Australian Government's election commitment to introduce mandatory CO2 emissions standards for light vehicles from 2015. An independent analysis of the light vehicle fleet for 2010–2025 to support the Regulation Impact Statement on the standards was finalised and the draft Regulation Impact Statement was prepared.

Environmental Performance

The Department contributed to the detailed annual report on energy use in Australian Government operations published by the Australian Greenhouse Office available at Because of a difference between reporting timeframes for the energy use data and the Department's annual report, energy consumption data for the Department for 2012–13 will be provided in the annual report for 2013–14. Data for 2011–12 and previous years is in Table C.1.

The Department's environmental management system complies with ISO14001:2004, the international standard for environmental management systems. The system is focused on the Department's office-based activities in Canberra. Initiatives are applied at territory and state premises where appropriate.

In December 2012, the Department commissioned a Carbon Emissions Footprint Report for 2011–12 financial year. The purpose of the report is to establish the Department's carbon footprint in accordance with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. The 2011–12 data will act as a foundation for the Department to monitor, analyse and address its overall environmental performance.

No breaches of environmental laws or licenses by the Department were reported during 2012–13.

Table C.1 Trends in departmental energy consumption, 2006–07 to 2011–12

2006–07 2007–08 2008–09 2009–10 2010–11 2011–12
Buildings and electricity
Office buildings
Area occupied (m2) 34,273 35,515 40,363 32,070 35,709 36,737
Occupantsa 1,734 1,679 1,526 1,271 1,426 1,268
Area per person (m2) 18.9 21.15 26 25 25 28.97
Electricity used (GJ) 14,662 13,857 14,516 13,099 13,151 14,712
Electricity used per person (MJ)c 8,455 8,253 9,512 10,305 9,223 11,603
Electricity used by area (MJ/m2) 428 390 360 408 368 400
Electricity sourced from renewable sources (%) 8.00 6.13 6.00 6.00 6.12 5.81
Other buildings
Area occupied (m2) 1,306 1,306 1,306 1,250 1,250 1250
Electricity used (GJ)b 72.5 96 155 361 364 432
Electricity used by area (MJ/m2) 55.23 73 119 288 291 346
Passenger vehiclesd
Total petrol use (l)e 109,191 81,691 81,936 67,942 59,309 56,529
Average fuel economy (l/100km) 11.0 10.36 13.00 10.68 11.0 11.0
Total fuel used (GJ) 3,710 3,418 3,068 2,319 2,019 1,931
Vehicle fleet compliance with green vehicle guide (%) 18.5 18.5 77 77 69 97
Total of the above
Direct energy consumed (GJ) 20,018 17,371 17,739 16,579 16,573 17,075
Greenhouse gas emissions (tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents) 5,000 4,700 3,800 3,764 4,747 3,674


a Occupants may include contractors and employees of contracted service providers as well as staff.

b Includes green power.

c The Australian Government's energy consumption target is no more than 7,500 megajoules per person per year.

d Transport statistics include senior executive and other departmental vehicles, but do not include vehicles that staff receive in lieu of remuneration under salary packaging.

e Diesel and petrol.

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Last Updated: 6 January, 2015