Appendix - Ecologically sustainable development and environmental performance

Under section 516A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), government organisations must report annually on their ecologically sustainable development (ESD) and environmental performance. Comcare is committed to advancing the principles of ESD and practicing these principles in its everyday activities and long-term projects. Comcare’s awareness of and response to environmental issues is increasing and a number of activities in 2015–16 have further built capability and performance in this area.

We recognise that day-to-day activities consume resources and create waste. This year we have continued several programmes to reduce our environmental impact with a focus on information and communication technology (ICT) and building operations as the major consumers of energy and other resources.

In March 2016, Comcare achieved a 5 star National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) Energy Tenancy rating for levels 3–5, 121 Marcus Clarke Street, Canberra ACT.

NABERS is a national rating system that measures the environmental performance of Australian buildings, tenancies and homes. NABERS measures the energy efficiency, water usage, waste management and indoor environment quality of a building or tenancy and its impact on the environment.

Some of the other steps we are taking to minimise the impact of our activities on the environment, include:

  • using multi-function devices with key paper and energy saving features
  • using videoconferencing equipment with energy saving features
  • reselling and recycling redundant technology equipment
  • using televisions that include a timer feature and operate only during business hours
  • using the energy saving features of the Windows 7 Operating System
  • using server virtualisation to reduce both power consumption and computer hardware requirements
  • using the power saving features of computer monitors
  • providing more video conferencing facilities in our offices around Australia to reduce staff air travel
  • recycling and implementing waste to landfill reduction measures in our offices
  • participating in whole-of-government purchasing arrangements for electricity
  • participating in and promoting Earth Hour 2016
  • maintaining battery recycling facilities
  • recycling 100 per cent of toner cartridges
  • recycling 100 per cent of florescent light tubes
  • providing bicycle facilities and showers to encourage employees to cycle to work
  • purchasing 50 per cent recycled A4 paper, 100 per cent recycling of paper waste and recycling of other stationery items.

Comcare has implemented the ACT Government ACTSmart Office Recycling Program in its Canberra office. The Canberra office at 121 Marcus Clarke Street renewed its accreditation in February 2016 and currently sends 85 per cent of its waste to a recycling centre.

Externally, Comcare provides the ability to download publications from its website. This allows documents to be sent and stored electronically, reducing the impact of printing and distribution of hard copy material.

Performance in focus—results

As a result of our environmental activities, power consumption per person remained steady in 2015–16. The table below shows Comcare’s power consumption over the past four financial years.

Comcare measures paper consumption by purchases made during the financial year. In 2015–16, Comcare’s paper consumption increased by 21 per cent from the previous year. This increase is a result of an excess of paper purchased in 2013–14, which reduced the amount of paper purchased in 2014–15. Overall, Comcare’s paper consumption is trending down in accordance with our commitment to reduce our environmental impact.

The table below also shows that 93 per cent of Comcare’s vehicle fleet has a Green Vehicle Guide (GVG) rating of 10.5 or higher. This result significantly exceeds the Australian Government target of 28 per cent of agency vehicles having this rating.

Table 33: Comcare’s environmental performance 2015–16

Environmental performance 2012–132013–142014–152015–16
Average power consumption per full-time equivalent employee (MJ/person/annum) 8337 6526 5963 5636
Paper consumption1 (reams of paper) 11 223 11 580 6538 8324
Vehicle fleet Green Vehicle Guide rating (percentage of vehicles with rating of 10.5 or higher) 77 92 93 93

1 Amount purchased during the financial year