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Appendix H: Ecologically sustainable development and environmental performance

The following summary of DVA’s environmental management activities and performance is provided in accordance with section 516A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

Environmental commitment statement

DVA is committed to integrating environmental sustainability into its business. The Department’s key commitments are to:

  • comply with relevant legislation and policies
  • minimise its carbon footprint
  • use resources effectively
  • continue to look for ways to minimise waste and reduce energy and resource consumption
  • create a culture in which environmental considerations are integrated into business activities
  • consider the environmental aspects of purchases of products and services
  • report on its environmental performance and progress towards environmental sustainability
  • promote the use of its environmental policies, practices and initiatives to its staff and business partners
  • strive for continuous improvement in its environmental performance.

Outcomes for ecologically sustainable development

DVA’s outcomes contribute to the principles of ecologically sustainable development as set out in section 3A of the EPBC Act. The Department’s contribution is in the effective delivery of Australian Government services with as little environmental impact as possible.

In 2017–18, the Department continued to demonstrate environmental responsibility by minimising its negative impacts on the environment through efficient use of resources, effective waste management and pollution prevention.

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Environmental impact of operations

DVA has taken measures to minimise the impact of its operations on the environment, as set out in the EPBC Act.

Energy consumption

The Energy Efficiency in Government Operations policy set an energy consumption target of 7,500 megajoules per person per year for office tenant light and power by 2011–12.

Table H1 shows data from 2014–15 to 2016–17. Due to energy consumption reporting processes, information relating to energy performance for 2017–18 will not be available until the end of October 2018.

Table H1: Tenant light and power 2014–15 to 2016–17
  2014–15 2015–16 2016–17 EEGO target
EEGO = Energy Efficiency in Government Operations
Electricity (kilowatt hours) 4,038,959 4,229,411 2,844,971 Not available
Megajoules per occupied work point per year 1,937 2,028 1,438 7,500

Fleet and fuel usage

At the start of 2017–18, DVA had 41 vehicles. They comprised 16 vehicles used by the Office of Australian War Graves (OAWG) in maintaining commemorative sites and 25 other vehicles used by the Department.

The Department maintained its environmental management initiatives to minimise carbon dioxide emissions by replacing its fleet vehicles at lease end with smaller and more fuel-efficient vehicles. In 2017–18, seven vehicles were renewed for DVA and four were renewed for the OAWG. A further six cost-effective hybrid replacement vehicles were introduced into the DVA fleet. The Department continued to encourage the use of E10 fuel in its fleet vehicles.

DVA has adopted an in-vehicle asset management system for managing its fleet vehicles. The system will provide more reliable data on vehicle use and assist with fringe benefits tax reporting.

Travel

DVA reduces the requirement for air travel and other types of travel by using videoconferencing and teleconferencing facilities in each main office location.

Waste and recycling

DVA collects data on the amount of waste and recycled material generated by its office operations. In the Canberra location, 3,451 kilograms of organic waste were collected in 2017–18 (equivalent to 18.6 cubic metres).

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Water consumption at commemorative sites

The location of war cemeteries and gardens of remembrance often means that supplementary water is required to achieve active plant growth. Various types of irrigation systems, including automatic systems, and various water sources are used. At many sites, water has become progressively less available. In response, the OAWG has sourced non-potable water at some sites and reduced its water consumption while striving to maintain the longstanding features and standards of presentation.

Improvements in the reliability of water sources and the performance of irrigation systems have been achieved at a number of sites. A trial of a remotely controlled irrigation system is currently underway at the Lutwyche War Cemetery in Brisbane. It is expected that the system will maximise water efficiency at the site.

The OAWG maintains the Sir John Monash Centre at the Australian National Memorial in France. The recently completed centre incorporates a number of sustainable design systems to reduce water and energy consumption. A geothermal system is used for heating and cooling the building and its mechanical systems by drawing on the consistent temperature of the earth using heat-exchange pumps to cycle water from sources as deep as 185 metres below the ground. Rain and stormwater run-off is collected in a series of tanks for greywater use.

Environmentally friendly purchasing

Through its procurement processes, DVA promotes environmental measures that lead to the reduction of waste and emissions and the better use of resources. All procurement requests include consideration of environmental issues.

The Secretary’s Instructions for the procurement of property and services encourage the procurement of ‘property or services that have less impact on the environment and human health than otherwise comparable property or services’.

DVA promotes the procurement of a large variety of quality products made from recycled material and manufactured with environmental considerations in mind.

In 2017–18, the Department purchased 31,465 reams of photocopy paper, of which 88 per cent had a recycled component. The Department’s veteran-centric reforms and the transition to a whole-of-government shared services arrangement in some business areas will lead to further reductions in the use of paper.

Monitoring performance

Progress in meeting environmental objectives is reported internally to management. The Department also reports annually to the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science on energy usage, and to the Department of the Environment and Energy on waste management.

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