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, programmes 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 terms.

Ecologically sustainable development was integral to the Department's four outcomes and to the Department's work throughout 2013–14.

Under the Infrastructure Investment Programme, 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 the Torres Strait a project is underway to provide a sustainable coastal protection system for vulnerable Torres Strait Island communities, protecting against the impact of coastal erosion and tidal inundation, reducing the likelihood of damage to community infrastructure and enhancing community and environmental health.

A hydrowood project in Tasmania will purchase and install a harvesting system and supporting infrastructure to enable underwater harvesting of timber from Hydro Tasmania dam impoundments. The project will enable the underwater harvesting of timber resources which will make use of an otherwise wasted resource to develop products such as flooring, veneer, craft wood as well as lumber.

In Esperance, Western Australia, the construction and installation of sustainable infrastructure including lighting, irrigation, a water management system, and waste and recycling management using renewable energy generation has commenced. The completed project will include solar powered lights to picnic shelters and public open space, solar hot water systems for beach showers, solar compacting rubbish and recycling bins, and a rainman irrigation system.

The Department played a key role in protecting the marine environment for future generations from the impacts of international shipping through its ongoing work at the International Maritime Organization's Marine Environment Protection Committee. The Department continued to work collaboratively with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority to help develop international standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping. The Department and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority also continued to work with the International Maritime Organization to set standards to prevent other forms of pollution from international shipping, including oil pollution, garbage and sewage, and ensure these standards are implemented into Australia's domestic legislative framework.

Additionally, the Department administered the annual Australian contribution to the International Maritime Organization and the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund.

In early 2014 the Department commenced work on the redevelopment of the Green Vehicle Guide website to ensure it continues to be a relevant and useful source of information to consumers. The guide compares the environmental performance of light vehicles, including information on fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and air pollution emissions. Together with the built in fuel consumption calculator, this information enables consumers to better estimate their annual fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions and make informed decisions about their personal impacts on the environment.

The Department played an active role in the International Civil Aviation Organization on global strategies to address the impact of aviation on the environment.

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 Hon. Warren Truss MP, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, for approval under the Airports Act 1996. The Department advised the Deputy Prime 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 is responsible for infrastructure delivery in the Indian Ocean Territories and Jervis Bay Territory. Each infrastructure project is assessed against the requirements under the EPBC Act at the project approval stage. Environmental management plans are established at the construction phase and implemented during project delivery.

All project design and delivery work takes into account sustainability principles and whole-of-life impacts.

The Department has access to the Department of Defence's Infrastructure and Environment and Heritage panels. The panels' expert providers assist the Department with planning for projects, developing request for tender documentation, incorporating environmental requirements into contractual arrangements and obtaining environmental approvals.

In 2013–14 the following projects contributed to ecologically sustainable development in Australia's non-self-governing territories:

  • an additional 12 new units were completed at the Drumsite Village on Christmas Island under the new housing programme. The design of the new units recognised the physical, cultural, heritage and environmental conditions of Christmas Island
  • the Department replaced a brackish water reverse osmosis plant on Home Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands. The new plant provides improved reliability, treatment and capacity for the supply of drinking water on Home Island, and
  • project design and delivery work for major developments such as the Christmas Island Hospital and jetty extensions and fuel consolidation project was carried out in accordance with sustainability principles and requirements.

On Norfolk Island the installation of a waste incinerator and briquette press will minimise the impact waste disposal has on the island's environment and will provide alternative uses for waste paper and cardboard. It is anticipated that the incinerator and press will be operational by mid-2014–15.

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 2013–14 will be provided in the Annual Report for 2014–15. Data for 2012–13 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.

The Department remains committed to being consistent with ecologically sustainable development principles and EPBC Act requirements.

No breaches of environmental laws or licenses by the Department were reported during 2013–14.

Table C.1 Trends in departmental energy consumption, 2007–08 to 2012–13

2007–08 2008–09 2009–10 2010–11 2011–12 2012–13
Buildings and electricity
Office buildings
Area occupied (m2) 35,515 40,363 32,070 35,709 36,737 36,875
Occupantsa 1,679 1,526 1,271 1,426 1,268 965
Area per person (m2) 21.15 26 25 25 28.97 38.2
Electricity used (GJ) 13,857 14,516 13,099 13,151 14,712 12,290
Electricity used per person (MJ)c 8,253 9,512 10,305 9,223 11,603 12,736
Electricity used by area (MJ/m2) 390 360 408 368 400 333
Electricity sourced from renewable sources (%) 6.13 6.00 6.00 6.12 5.81 5.62
Other buildings
Area occupied (m2) 1,306 1,306 1,250 1,250 1,250 1,250
Electricity used (GJ)b 96 155 361 364 432 386
Electricity used by area (MJ/m2) 73 119 288 291 346 308
Total of the above
Direct energy consumed (GJ) 13,953 14,671 13,460 13,515 15,144 12,676
Greenhouse gas emissions (tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents) 4,398 4,624 4,671 4,742 4,719 4,144


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

b. Includes green power.

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

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Last Updated: 3 February, 2015