Environmental report 2022–23

Ecologically sustainable development and operational environmental performance 2022–23

Date published:
20 October 2023
Date updated:
23 October 2023

This report details the department's environmental performance and contribution to ecologically sustainable development and supplements our Annual report 2022–23.

It was updated on 23 October 2023 with a correction to the figures in Table 6.

About this report

Commonwealth agencies are required to meet statutory annual reporting requirements under Section 516A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). Under the Act, government departments are to report annually on:

  • how the agency's activities have accorded with the principles of Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD)
  • identify how their departmental outcomes contributed to ESD
  • report on their impacts upon the environment and measures taken to minimise those impacts
  • identify the review mechanisms they used to improve the effectiveness of their measures to minimise its impact upon the environment.

Commencing in the 2022–23 financial year, the department is required to report against the Australian Public Service (APS) Net Zero 2030 policy requirements. This policy is set by the government and aims to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions across the Australian Public Service (APS) by the year 2030. For the baseline year, the mandatory reporting parameters include emissions generated from electricity, natural gas, fleet and flights. 

The department continues to operate in line with the Australian Government's Energy Efficiency in Government Operations (EEGO) policy, which aims to reduce the energy consumption of Australian Government operations with particular emphasis on the energy performance of its buildings. Under EEGO, agencies measure the energy performance of their buildings against performance targets to uphold minimum standards for government-tenanted office buildings and appliances and conduct annual reporting of energy consumption against these targets.

The department’s environmental performance for the 2022–23 financial year, in line with the above requirements, is summarised below.

Contribution of core business activities to ecologically sustainable development

Information about the department’s core business activities can be found in the annual report.

Operational environmental performance

Australian Public Service (APS) Net Zero 2030 reporting

APS Net Zero 2030 is the government’s policy for the Australian Public Service (APS) to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2030 and transparently report on its emissions. As part of this, non-corporate and corporate Commonwealth entities are required to report on their operational greenhouse gas emissions.

The Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory presents greenhouse gas emissions over the 2022–23 period. Results are presented on the basis of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO₂-e) emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions reporting has been developed with methodology that is consistent with the whole-of-Australian-government approach as part of the APS Net Zero 2030 policy. Not all data sources were available at the time of the report and adjustments to baseline data may be required in future reports.

Table 1: Emissions reported using location-based approach (kg CO₂-e)
Emission Source Scope 1  Scope 2  Scope 3  Total 
Electricity   N/A   11,796,751   995,956   12,792,706 
Natural gas  199,593   N/A   30,293   229,885 
Fleet vehicles  244,871   N/A   60,512   305,383 
Domestic flights  N/A   N/A   -   - 
Other energy  -   N/A   -   - 
Total   444,464   11,796,751   1,086,760   13,327,975 
Table 2: Emissions reported using market-based approach (kg CO₂-e)
Emission Source Scope 1  Scope 2  Scope 3  Total 
Electricity (market-based approach)  N/A   8,492,485   1,124,005   9,616,491 
Natural gas  199,593   N/A   30,293   229,885 
Fleet vehicles  244,871   N/A   60,512   305,383 
Domestic flights  N/A   N/A   -   - 
Other energy  -   N/A   -   - 
Total   444,464   8,492,485   1,214,810   10,151,759 


  • Scope 1 is direct emissions from entity facilities and company owned vehicles. Scope 2 is indirect emissions from purchased electricity, steam, heating and cooling for own use. Scope 3 is all other indirect emissions, including from leased assets up and down stream.

  • The electricity emissions reported in Table 1 above are calculated using the location-based approach. When applying the market-based method, which accounts for activities such as GreenPower, purchased large-scale generation certificates and/or being located in the Australian Capital Territory, the total emissions for electricity are in Table 2.

  • The domestic flight emissions referenced in the tables above were not reported in 2022–23. An estimated 7 kilotons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions from domestic commercial flights are divided among the entities: Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF), Department of Industry, Science and Resources (DISR), Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts (DITRDCA) and Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW). The exact allocation of domestic commercial flight emissions for each entity has not been determined yet due to machinery of government changes in the 2022–23 financial year. In future reports, the emissions data will be provided separately for each entity.

  • Further information on APS Net Zero 2030 is at www.finance.gov.au/government/aps-net-zeroemissions-2030.

Energy Efficiency in Government Operations (EEGO)

The department’s 2022–23 environmental performance and its progress towards achieving the EEGO targets are summarised in tables 3 to 6 below. The performance indicators also satisfy the requirements of the EPBC Act section 516A, by quantifying the department’s environmental impact on the natural environment and the trend over time.

This report specifically outlines the department’s energy and emissions performance and usage trends in each of the EEGO ‘end-use categories’:

  • office buildings (tenant light and power, or TLP)
  • other buildings, such as computer centres, laboratories, public buildings, warehouses and storage facilities
  • passenger vehicles and other forms of transport.

The department strives to minimise the effect of its operational activities on the environment, ensure best practice, and drive improved performance and accountability.

Table 3: Energy use
Performance target and actuals Target 2019–20 2020–21 2021–22 2022–23 % Change
Total energy consumption (GJ)[1] n.a.* 72,254 68,725 69,533 62,338 −10%
Stationery energy (GJ) - buildings n.a.* 67,135 65,604 66,230 58,819 −11%
Total green power consumption (GJ) n.a.* 551 148 10 0 −100%
PV energy[2] n.a.* 439 415 523 333 −36% 
Energy intensity: TLP[3] (MJ/person/annum) ≤7,500 3,242 3,172 2,587 3,046 +18%
Energy intensity: CS[4] (MJ/m2) ≤400 n.a* n.a* n.a* n.a*  
Energy intensity: laboratories  (MJ/m2)   n.a.* 1,523 1,497 1,636 1,404 −14%
Energy intensity: public buildings (MJ/m2)   n.a.* 451 421 414 425 +3%
Energy intensity: other buildings (MJ/m2)   n.a.* 252 284 192 212 +10%
Energy intensity: computer centres (MJ/m2)   n.a.* 18,148 19,681 19,829 19,082 −4%
Net greenhouse gas emissions (t CO2-e) from energy use n.a.* 14,250 14,139 14,165 13,328 −6%

n.a: not applicable

GJ = gigajoule; kWh = kilowatt hour; m2 = square metre; MJ = mega joule; n.a.* = not applicable, t CO2-e = tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent; t = tonnes

1 Includes transport and stationary energy sectors (passenger vehicles, offices, public buildings, laboratories, warehouses and data centres). The 2022-23 data now aligns with the APS Net Zero data and doesn’t include estimated energy consumption for data not available at the time of report. The previous reporting years reporting included estimated data.

2 Relates to Questacon sites only

3 TLP: Tenant light and power - energy used for tenant operations in office space, including lighting, office equipment, and supplementary air conditioning.

4 CS: Central services - a measurement of energy used providing services common to all tenants in office building, including building air conditioning, lifts, security and lobby lighting and domestic hot water.

Table 4: ICT sustainability
Performance target and actuals Target 2019–20 2020–21 2021–22 2022–23 % Change
Desktop energy per end user  (kWh/annum) ≤250 199 135 137 155 +13%
Desktop computers to printer ratio 20:01 15:1 15:1 18:1 20:1 +11%
Power usage effectiveness (PUE) – computer centres and data rooms ≤1.90 1.69 1.71 1.72 1.74 +1%
Table 5: Vehicle fleet
Performance target and actuals Target 2019–20 2020–21 2021–22 2022–23 % Change
Transport energy (GJ)  –  all vehicles n.a.* 5,118 3,121 3,303 3,519 +7%
Energy intensity: passenger vehicles only (MJ/km)   n.a.* 3.72 3.96 3.61 3.52 −2%
Total fuel purchased (KL) – passenger vehicles only n.a.* 127.67 71.67 73.11 88.01 +20%
Total distance travelled (km) – passenger vehicles only n.a.* 1,213,653 686,385 767,772 942,960 +23%

n.a: not applicable

Table 6 : Procurement
Performance target and actuals Target 2019–20 2020–21 2021–22 2022–23 % Change
Copy paper purchased by FTE[1] (reams per person per annum) 9 3 2 1.41 1.9 +35%
Percentage of paper purchased: 100 per cent post-consumer recycled content 100% 100% 100% 100% 95% −5%

1 FTE: full-time equivalent. General use office copy paper is regarded as plain A4 size paper, mostly 80gsm.

Mitigation measures and methods for reviewing effectiveness

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

Total energy

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. 

Energy intensity

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

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.

Continual improvement

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.

ICT sustainability

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

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.

Other vehicles

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.

Waste reporting

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.

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