1001.0 - Australian Bureau of Statistics -- Annual Report, 2013-14  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 04/11/2014   
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ECOLOGICAL SUSTAINABILITY

During 2013–14 the ABS remained committed to the principles of Ecological Sustainable Development as outlined in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999.

In accordance with the EPBC Act, which requires agencies to report on aspects of their performance relating to ecologically sustainable development, the ABS has two key roles. The first of these is in relation to the ABS’s responsibility for providing statistics on the environment and environmental issues to enable informed decision making. The second role relates to the impact of the ABS’s operations on the environment and the action being taken by the ABS to minimise that impact.

The ABS’s response to the five components of sub-section 516A (6), as required by the EPBC Act, is described below.

516A (6) (a) HOW DO THE ACTIVITIES OF THE ORGANISATION, AND THE ADMINISTRATION OF LEGISLATION BY THE ORGANISATION ACCORD WITH THE PRINCIPLES OF ECOLOGICALLY SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT?

The ABS has an endorsed Environmental Policy Statement which identifies effective environmental practices and provides guidance to ABS staff on undertaking activities in an environmentally responsible manner. In accordance with the principles of ecologically sustainable development, the ABS Environmental Policy Statement aims to integrate sustainable environmental practices by:

  • seeking to minimise adverse environmental impacts from operations
  • complying with relevant Commonwealth and territory environment legislation and the Australian Government’s environmental policies and initiatives
  • working to continuously improve environmental performance.

In accordance with this Policy, the ABS has implemented an Environmental Management System (EMS), which provides evidence of the ABS’s commitment to ecological sustainable development. The EMS aims to:
  • identify, implement and promote environmental management systems and operations
  • operate in an environmentally responsible manner and where practical, reduce energy, waste and other resources
  • comply with relevant Commonwealth and territory environment legislation and the Australian Government’s environmental policies and initiatives
  • encourage and promote environmentally sound procurement practices in compliance with
  • provide an environmentally sound workplace and implement environmentally sound work practices
  • monitor programs and implement processes of continuous improvement
  • develop an environmentally responsible culture across all levels of the organisation and consult, educate, train and motivate staff about their environmental responsibilities.

516A (6) (b) HOW DO THE OUTCOMES SPECIFIED IN A RELEVANT APPROPRIATION ACT CONTRIBUTE TO ECOLOGICALLY SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT?

The ABS receives appropriation for the purpose of producing statistics that inform decision making on a wide range of social and economic matters.

The ABS works closely with the community and governments to further build information on environmental statistics, to complement the more established information bases on population, society and the economy. The focus of this development work is the integration of environmental statistics with Australia’s economic and social statistics.

For more information on ABS statistical publications and developments, please see the Program Reports in Chapter 5 for:
  • Agriculture
  • Rural and Regional Statistics
  • Environment
  • Energy
  • Water.

516A (6) (c) WHAT IS THE EFFECT OF THE ORGANISATION'S ACTIVITIES ON THE ENVIRONMENT?

The ABS’s activities have the potential to affect the environment through consumption of energy and water, waste production and waste sent to landfill. A number of ongoing action plans, with relevant targets and objectives have been put in place to reduce the ABS’s environmental impact. These aim to:
  • reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas pollution
  • reduce paper consumption
  • reduce carbon emissions in transportation
  • decrease water usage
  • decrease waste sent to landfill, whilst increasing packaging and waste recycling
  • increase the procurement of environmentally friendly products.

516A (6) (d) WHAT MEASURES ARE TAKEN BY THE ORGANISATION TO MINIMISE THE IMPACT OF ITS ACTIVITIES ON THE ENVIRONMENT?

In accordance with the ABS Environmental Policy Statement, the ABS has sought to minimise its impact on the environment through a number of measures consistent with the aims of the EMS:

Identify, implement and promote environmental management systems and operations:
  • implementing an EMS at its primary site, ABS House in Canberra, and maintaining it since 2009

Operate in an environmentally responsible manner and where practical, reduce energy, waste and other resources:
  • maintaining motion sensors in all ABS House tenanted areas and energy efficient LED lights within certain areas of the ABS House tenanted areas to reduce energy consumption
  • making free publications available on the ABS website and increasing the number of publications available electronically, to reduce demand for print copies
  • using computer assisted interviewing, in place of paper forms
  • upgrading video conferencing equipment software and increasing the number of video conferencing facilities to support virtual teams thus reducing the amount of interstate travel
  • providing recycling services to all office-based staff, including
    – recycling paper, bottles, aluminium cans, steel cans, plastic and cardboard products in all offices
    – recycling mobile phones, batteries, polystyrene and plastic shopping bags in our largest office, ABS House
    – maintaining organic recycling of kitchen waste through Global Worming (a worm farm) at ABS House.
Comply with relevant Commonwealth and territory environment legislation
and the Australian Government’s environmental policies and initiatives:
  • developing an ABS ICT Energy Management Plan in alignment with requirements and targets set under the , which includes:
    – server virtualisation
    – automatic shutdown of PCs overnight. Unused PCs stay powered off during
    the day
    – duplex printing and copying enabled
    – transition from network printers to multi-function devices
    – rationalisation of the number of multi-function devices
    – reduced standby timeout period on multi-function devices from 90 to 60 minutes
    – continual refresh program for desktops, servers and storage, utilising latest available technology
    – introducing 80% recycled content copy paper
    – maintaining Altiris EiPower - desktop energy measurement software
    – high-level metering of data centre (located in Central Office) and communications equipment energy consumption
    – installing an intelligent management system for data centre air-conditioners to increase efficiency
    – installing variable speed drives in data centre condenser water pumps and cooling tower fans
    – intelligent server management system to maximise energy efficiencies—for newer technology servers.
Encourage and promote environmentally sound procurement practices in compliance with Commonwealth Procurement Rules:
  • maintaining procurement of 10% green energy as part of the whole of government energy contract for ABS House and 10% green energy for the New South Wales, Victorian and South Australian Regional Offices
  • inclusion of environmental and whole-of-life-cycle clauses as part of the tender and evaluation process in most procurement activities
  • purchasing vehicles with 10.5 GVG rating in accordance with the Green Vehicle Guide
  • procuring 100% recycled paper for general office use.

Provide an environmentally sound workplace and implement environmentally sound work practices:
  • have a knowledge framework, incorporating digital recordkeeping rather than paper records and automatic recordkeeping facilities for ABS workgroup databases
  • incorporating environmental efficiency measures into the market testing process for new leases with the integration of a Green lease schedule to each new tenancy
  • maintaining of a building management system to control lighting and reduce energy use
  • using re-manufactured and recycled cartridges for photocopiers, faxes and printers, and recycling used printer cartridges wherever possible
  • purchasing white goods with high efficiency energy ratings
  • promoting sustainable environmental practices in the current enterprise agreement.

Monitor programs and implement processes of continuous improvement:
  • regularly collecting statistics on its environmental performance in accordance with all legislative requirements. This enables the ABS to monitor and report on the impact it has on the environment, and ensure that the ABS is able to measure its continual improvement against these requirements, as reported and published in Energy Use in the Australian government's Operations .

Develop an environmentally responsible culture across all levels of the organisation and consult, educate, train and motivate staff about their environmental responsibilities:
  • promoting, participating and celebrating environmental and energy programs around national and international events such as World Environment Day, Earth Hour and Walk and Ride to Work days
  • providing tips via the intranet on ways to reduce work and home environmental footprints.

516A (6) (e) WHAT ARE THE MECHANISMS FOR REVIEWING AND INCREASING EFFECTIVENESS OF THESE MEASURES?

The ABS has implemented an EMS at its primary site, ABS House in Canberra, and continues to monitor the activities of the organisation that have an environmental impact. Objectives and targets are set each year to manage and reduce the impact.

REDUCING THE ABS FOOTPRINT - MOVING TO A FLEXIBLE WORKING ENVIRONMENT - THE SOUTH AUSTRALIAN REGIONAL OFFICE PILOT

The ABS is testing a flexible working environment (FWE) strategy designed to increase available work options by building on the concepts of flexi-time, part-time employment and working from home arrangements. The two components of the strategy are an activity based workplace (ABW) within the office and Teleworking, enabling staff to deliver on business needs from outside the office. FWE is supported by an end user computing strategy incorporating laptops and thin client technology to maximise staff mobility both within and outside the office. These components are integrated with supervisor skills, job requirements and staff skills to provide a comprehensive package to build adaptability and, as a minimum, retain productivity while reducing operating overheads.

An FWE allows employers and employees to decide on working arrangements such as hours of work, work location and the way work is done. It involves thinking creatively about how working lives can be better structured to match individual and business needs. Three pilot projects have been initiated to tailor FWE to the ABS and to identify implementation costs and HR issues. A teleworking pilot commenced in the Victorian office, and early lessons guided the design of the SA Regional Office (RO). Similarly, the emerging end user computing strategy set parameters for the IT components of the SA pilot (although without the preferred technology solution), and another pilot will be conducted in the Queensland RO later in 2014 with the full thin client solution. The ABW pilot commenced in the SA RO in early 2014 with a redesign of the workplace. From April 2014 the SA Office moved from occupying three floors to two floors at its existing location and the third floor was sub-let to another Australian Government agency. The remaining two floors were converted to an ABW.

The objectives of the pilot include:
  • increasing productivity by providing an ABW and more opportunities for working from home
  • developing a change management process to allow a smooth transition to more flexible working
  • reducing the physical footprint of the office thus significantly reducing leasing costs.

The SA Office transitioned to an ABW over the period March to June 2014 as construction of the office progressed. Evaluation of changing work practices and work program outputs commenced in this period and will continue through the remainder of 2014–15. Results of the evaluation will be used to adjust the physical environment of the office, use of spaces, and management of team logistics with increased teleworking. They will also be used to inform the roll-out of ABW and FWE to other ABS offices as leases expire.

The ABS currently has eight offices with varying office designs and footprints. The potential savings on lease costs based on today’s prices and current staffing when all offices have fully adopted FWE is up to $16 million. It should be noted that these savings cannot be garnered immediately or at any one point in time. They will be realised as Office leases expire, or earlier if opportunities arise to sub-lease and bring forward office refurbishments.

Early indications in the SA Office demonstrate staff willingness to change to more flexible work practices, strong uptake of teleworking, and interest in trying the new office spaces and staff management practices. Although the
200 staff are now working within two-thirds of their previous footprint the general consensus is a more spacious office with more collaborative opportunities and an improved work environment.