The measures undertaken by the department during 2022–23 to minimise the effects of its operational activities on the environment and the mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing the effectiveness of measures to reduce impacts are outlined below, in accordance with the requirements of EPBC Act Section 516A.
Office and building energy efficiency
The department’s total portfolio annual energy consumption in 2022–23 decreased by 10% to 62,338 GJ. This includes transport and stationary energy sectors, including passenger vehicles, offices, public buildings, laboratories, warehouses and data centres.
EEGO performance of 3,046 MJ/FTE/annum shows that DISR operated at 41% of the energy intensity target of ≤7,500 MJ/FTE/annum, effectively demonstrating an energy efficiency well below the EEGO target.
The MJ/FTE for tenant light and power (TLP) has increased from 2,587 MJ/FTE to 3,046 MJ per person per year. The EEGO performance saw an increase of 18% this financial year.
The most notable factor contributing to this increase was the approximately 22% reduction in full-time employees (FTE) across the portfolio due to machinery of government (MoG) changes and these targets are measured against FTE.
The department will align its carbon emissions reduction and offset approach with the APS Net Zero policy and guidelines.
The department continues to see offsets through our primary energy-consuming site at 36 Bradfield Road, Lindfield due to a 10-year renewable power purchase agreement. This agreement facilitates the sourcing of electricity directly from solar farms, effectively offsetting all related emissions and driving our operations towards carbon neutrality. This site's contribution represents approximately 30% of our total portfolio energy emissions.
The department's tenancies within Canberra continue to be mitigated by feeding a similar volume of renewable electricity into the grid. The ACT Government carbon emission reduction program and the renewable energy power purchase agreement at 36 Bradfield Road offsets nearly half of the total electricity related carbon emissions generated across our portfolio.
EEGO minimum energy performance standards (MEPS)
The energy performance of the property portfolio is rated using the National Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) for offices. The department strives to occupy office buildings and tenancies that are designed to achieve the EEGO Policy’s minimum energy performance standard of at least 4.5 stars. The department obtained NABERS office energy ratings for 2 sites (over 2,000 m²) within the reporting period:
- 10 Binara St, Canberra – 4.5 stars, valid till December 2023
- 60 Denison St, Canberra – 3.5 stars, valid till October 2023.
The Denison St rating was 3.5 for this assessment as it has public-facing aspects that were not separately metered. Separate meters have now been installed and will be used for future assessments. The department will renew the NABERS ratings for these sites and any potential in-scope properties within the 2023–24 reporting period.
Earth Hour is a global movement that took place this year from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm on Saturday, 25 March 2023.
All state offices participated in this event, which showcased the department’s support for climate change mitigation.
The department continues to monitor environmental performance and works with its property service provider, Evolve FM, to improve its processes and reporting
In the reported period, the department continued with the implementation of the risk mitigation and energy efficiency improvements, such as installation of LED lighting, organic waste recycling, energy audits and NABERS benchmarking.
End user computer environment
The continued use of laptops and the implementation of flexible working arrangements has enabled the energy usage per end user to be maintained at a lower level.
Main data centre and data rooms
The power use effectiveness (PUE) for the main data centre has slightly risen from 1.72 to 1.74.
While the IT power load has reduced due to computer workloads migrating to the cloud, recent reductions in staff numbers during the MoG and the continued natural migration of staff from virtualised desktop infrastructure to laptops, the power to cool the main data centre room has not reduced at the same rate, resulting in a slightly higher PUE rating. When IT power load has reached a lower threshold, the power used to cool the data centre overall may be able to be reduced, which will in turn reduce the PUE.
The data rooms PUE remain unchanged.
Performance of public buildings: Questacon
Questacon is actively supporting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and exploring opportunities to link core science communication activities with environmental awareness initiatives.
The key aims of Questacon’s net zero strategy (QNetZero) are to:
- promote climate action through science engagement
- reduce Questacon’s emissions
- support the Australian Government’s Long Term Emissions Reduction Plan.
Questacon has developed a roadmap to reduce emissions by 2030. Key emissions reduction actions include:
- transition building services from gas to electric
- reduce refrigerant emissions
- use of electric or hybrid vehicles where possible
- increase use of renewables
- travel offsets where available
- energy efficiency improvements
- waste reduction.
Questacon will also:
- educate staff and visitors on climate science and inspire and empower them to reduce their emissions
- deliver experiences that promote better understanding of the science of climate change
- promote technologies that will contribute to a low emissions future
- establish partnerships that support Questacon’s net zero objectives
- contribute to the Australian Government’s plan for a net zero APS by 2030.
Procurement of goods and services
In-line with the requirements of the Commonwealth Procurement Rules, the department’s procurement framework provides guidance and templates to assist staff in considering environmental sustainability as part of its value-for-money assessment.
The department continues to maintain 100% usage of recycled paper for general use copy paper.
Transport energy: vehicles
Transport energy reported by the department relates to 2 types of fleet vehicles used: passenger vehicles (with a weight below 3.5 tonnes) and other vehicles (exceeding 3.5 tonnes in weight). Total transport energy increased by 7% during the financial year. The increase is mainly associated with the easing of travel restrictions imposed due to COVID, which caused an increase in the total number of kilometres travelled during this financial year when compared to the last financial year.
Passenger vehicles account for 94% of the department’s transport energy use. Energy use increased by 20% and distance travelled increased by 23%, which can be attributed to increased travel footprint post easing of COVID restrictions. The energy intensity (energy consumption per kilometre travelled) decreased by 2% in 2022–23, from 3.61 MJ/km to 3.52 MJ/km.
In 2022–23, the department reported a total energy use of 201 GJ within the other transport category, which accounted for 6% of total transport energy use. The number of department vehicles larger than 3.5 tonnes were reduced by 1 to 5 vehicles in 2022–23.
The department continues its commitment to sustainable waste management by emphasising recycling. The department has successfully diverted 312.49 cubic metres of waste from landfills. This saving translates to:
- preserving 320 mature trees
- preventing the emission of 92 tonnes of CO₂-e
- conserving 16,322 L of oil
- effectively removing the equivalent emissions of 9 cars from our roads for an entire year.
The department is actively pioneering the introduction of organic recycling within its premises. We have recently undertaken a pilot initiative at the department's headquarters, Industry House. The department is planning to replicate this recycling model across its other larger facilities, with a vision to have them fully operational by the forthcoming year.