Environmental performance

The environmental performance12 of the Department of Education is managed by the Shared Services Centre. Because the accommodation and operations of the department were not fully separated from those of the Department of Employment, an aggregated report for both departments is provided for 2013–14.

Environmental management is focused on reducing impacts from energy consumption, waste, water consumption, vehicle fleet, air travel, paper consumption and procurement policies and practices. The department’s progress is summarised in Table 19.

Table 19: Summary of environmental performance

Office/building energy use

Indicators 2012–13 2013–14 Change (%)
Total office tenant light and power electricity consumption (kWh) 7,164,658 6,863,055 –4.21%
Total office tenant light and power energy consumption ( MJ) 25,792,768 24,706,998 –4.21%
Office tenant light and power energy use per full-time equivalent ( MJ/ FTE) 6,461.11 6,432.44 –0.44%
Office tenant light and power energy use per square metre ( MJ/m2) 239.95 222.68 –7.20%
Greenhouse emissions attributed to office tenant light and power energy use (tonnes/CO2-e) 6,362.23 6,087.30 –4.31%
Green power purchased (kWh) 605,587 418,287 –30.93%

Vehicle fleet

Indicators 2012–13 2013–14 Change (%)
Total number of fleet vehicles 148 140 –5.41%
Average green vehicle rating of fleet 12.8 13.3 +3.90%
Total fuel purchased (kL) 133.47 86.73 –35.02%
Total distance travelled (km) 1,366,707 900,520 –34.11%
Average fuel consumption of vehicle fleet (litres/100 km) 9.77 9.63 –1.43%
Total direct greenhouse emissions of fleet (tonnes CO2-e) 308.92 201.62 –34.73%

Greenhouse emissions

Indicators 2012–13 2013–14 Change (%)
Total greenhouse emissions (tonnes CO2-e) 6,675.70 6,288.92 –5.79%
Total greenhouse emissions per FTE (tonnes CO2-e/ FTE) 1.67 1.64 –1.8%

Air travel

Indicators 2012–13 2013–14 Change (%)
Total number of flights 15,822 12,746 –19.44%
Total distance of flights (km) 14,338,871 10,026,378 –30.08%

Resource efficiency and waste a

Indicators 2012–13 2013–14 Change (%)
Office paper purchased by FTE (A4 reams/ FTE) 7.3 7.9 +8.22%
Percentage of paper purchased with recycled content 98.67% 97.90% –0.78%
Office paper recycled (tonnes) 168.08 122.12 –27.34%
Total waste produced (tonnes) 139.93 155.00 –17.82%
Total waste produced per FTE (kg/ FTE) 45.50 29.94 –34.20%
Percentage of waste diverted from landfill 90.25% 88.50% –1.94%

ICT sustainability

Indicators 2012–13 2013–14 Change (%)
Desktop devices per end user (including laptops) 1.54 1.84 +19.5%
Desktop computers to printer ratio 14:1 13:1 –7.1%
Desktop computers off (or sleeping) after hours 88% 93% +5.7%
Desktop energy per end user (kWh per annum, averaged across agency) 264 231 –12.5%

Notes: CO2-e = carbon dioxide equivalent; FTE = full-time equivalent; kL = kilolitre; km = kilometre; kWh = kilowatt hour; MJ = megajoule.

a Waste and recycling data is only available for tenancies across Canberra.

Effect of the department’s activities on the environment13

The Shared Services Centre uses an effective environmental management system for the Department of Education to continuously monitor and report on environmental performance, reduce negative environmental impacts and minimise pollution.

As part of the former Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, the department achieved significant reductions in both total electricity usage and per capita energy intensity through rationalisation of the property portfolio into fewer, more efficient tenancies and the rollout of new desktop computers, including single split-screen monitors. Despite significant electricity price rises throughout this time, actual electricity costs also reduced.

Table 20: Electricity usage

Year Total kWh useda Intensity ( MJ/ FTE)a Total cost($)a
2009–10 15,489,622 9,618 2,492,673
2010–11 12,383,849 (–20%) 8,180 (–15%) 2,182,450 (–12%)
2011–12 10,635,473 (–14%) 7,303 (–11%) 1,951,531 (–11%)
2012–13 7,164,658 (–33%) 6,461 (–12%) 1,575,379 (–19%)
2013–14 6,863,055 (–4%) 6,432 (–0.5%) 1,649,544 (+5%)

a % = reduction from previous year.

Because the department’s property portfolio and information and communications technology ( ICT) infrastructure were relatively unchanged in 2013–14, performance has been maintained but the rate of improvement has slowed. As a result of ongoing price rises in 2013–14, total electricity costs have risen by 5 per cent.

Office and building13

In 2013–14, the department again surpassed the Energy Efficiency in Government Operations Policy target of 7500 megajoules per person per year, achieving a reduction to 6432 megajoules.

Our largest tenancy, at 50 Marcus Clarke Street, Canberra, has maintained excellent results in the most comprehensive range of formal environmental ratings gained by any building in Australia:

  • 6 Star Green Star As Built (whole of building)
  • 5 Star Green Star Office Interiors
  • 5.5 Star NABERS15 Energy for both Base Building and Tenancy
  • 5 Star NABERS Water
  • 5 Star NABERS Indoor Environment
  • 4 Star NABERS Waste.

The other main Canberra tenancy, at 10 and 12 Mort Street Canberra, also received a 5.5 Star NABERS Tenancy Energy rating—an outstanding result for a refurbished tenancy.

Information and communications technology16

The department has reduced the running costs, resource consumption and environmental impacts of ICT operations through initiatives including the use of energy-efficient monitors, virtual servers and print-on-demand for multi-function devices that default to duplex and black-and-white printing.

The combination of an increased proportion of efficient desktops, an increase in the number of desktops going to sleep overnight, and a reduction in the wait time before a PC goes to sleep (from 30 minutes down to 15) helped desktop energy per end user to fall from 264 kWh per year in 2012–13 to 231 kWh per year in 2013–14.

The recent Machinery of Government changes have, however, contributed to an increase in the stock of desktops held, with the number of desktop devices per end user increasing by 19.5 per cent and a worsening in the desktops-to-printer ratio. (The higher this ratio the better, as the intention behind its creation was to lower the number of printers in use.) This situation will be remedied in the near future with the disposal of older desktops and laptops from the fleet.

Vehicle fleet and air travel16

The department has improved the average Green Vehicle Guide rating of our vehicle fleet by 3.9 per cent to a rating of 13.3. This, together with a reduction in fuel consumption, demonstrates our continued commitment to minimising the environmental impact of our fleet.

Total air kilometres travelled decreased by 30.08 per cent from 14,338,871 kilometres in 2012–13 to 10,026,378 kilometres in 2013–14. This outcome reflects our continuing efforts to minimise air travel, particularly through increased use of ICT, such as videoconferencing.

Resource efficiency and waste16

Paper use has risen a little in 2013–14: from 7.3 to 7.9 reams per person per annum. Despite the increase, usage remains below the Australian Government ICT Sustainability Plan 2010–2015 target of 9 reams per person per annum by July 2015.

The department continues to purchase 100 per cent post-consumer recycled stock for all standard A4 and A3 paper. Total recycled content remains high, with 97.90 per cent of all paper purchased having some recycled content and 88.82 per cent being 100 per cent post-consumer recycled stock.

The waste management system in Canberra diverted an impressive 25 tonnes of organic material from landfill to professional vermiculture―reducing emissions and producing beneficial worm castings and compost.

In 2013–14, the department worked in close partnership with our cleaning contractors to:

  • support our outstanding NABERS Indoor Environment rating by using only cleaning products with the lowest impact in both environmental and health terms
  • maintain the highest workplace health and safety standards in storage and handling of cleaning products
  • train all cleaning staff to ensure they maintain the highest environmental, health and safety standards
  • source and supply the most recycled paper products available
  • ensure that waste streams that have been source-segregated by employees are correctly handled to the point of removal from our buildings for recycling
  • monitor and streamline our base-building waste removal arrangements, achieving a 25 per cent cost saving.

12 13 14 16 It is not possible to separate all Education and Employment activities managed by the SSC following Machinery of Government changes in September 2013. Therefore the information for this activity is aggregated for both departments for this period. It is expected that activities will be reported through the appropriate departments’ annual reports for 2014–15.

15 NABERS is the National Australian Building Environmental Rating System —the standard system for measuring the environmental performance of Australian buildings.