1001.0 - Australian Bureau of Statistics -- Annual Report, 2006-07  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 12/10/2007   
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Contents >> Section VI - How the ABS operates >> Chapter 23 - Ecological and environmental sustainability

Section VI - How the ABS operates

Chapter 23 - Ecological and environmental sustainability

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 requires agencies to report on aspects of its performance as it relates to ecologically sustainable development. The ABS has two key roles with respect to this issue. The first of these is in relation to the ABS’ responsibility for providing statistics on the environment and environmental issues to enable informed decision making. The second role is with respect to ABS operations and its impact on the environment, and the steps being taken by the ABS to minimise that impact.

In February 2007, the ABS’ South Australia office relocated to ANZ House, a five-star green-star building. Green star ratings provide a guide for the property industry to reduce the environmental impact of buildings and to improve the health of the staff occupying the building. ANZ House is currently the most energy-efficient building in Adelaide and provides an excellent work environment for staff. The fit out offers water and energy-saving initiatives, materials with a low environmental impact and a design that maximises natural light and focuses on providing fresher air.

ANZ House, South Australia

ANZ House, South Australia

The ABS response to the five components of sub-section 516A (6) as required by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 is described below.

Table 23.1: Assessment against components of ecological and environmental responsibility

Component assessmentABS actions

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’ role is to provide a high-quality statistical service to the government and the community. The ABS operates primarily in an office-based environment and is progressively moving from paper to electronic products.

To reduce paper consumption the ABS continues to increase the number of publications available electronically, while reducing the number of titles available. There has been a 25 per cent decrease in the number of publication titles printed, and a 31 per cent decrease in the number of publication copies printed, between 2005–06 and 2006–07. The availability of free publications on the ABS website continues to contribute to further reductions in demand for hard copies.

From 1 January 2006 ABS ceased creating paper records of its general business activities, except financial and personnel records, and primarily manages its business records by digital record-keeping. To assist with the management of these records, the ABS has developed a knowledge framework and is in the process of configuring its technologies to facilitate automatic record-keeping. ABS’ workgroup databases already include these automatic record-keeping facilities.

In most procurement activities, the ABS has incorporated environmental clauses as part of the tender and evaluation process. Environmental considerations are also incorporated in the market testing process for new properties. Inclusion of the Government Green Lease Schedule in new tenancy agreements is now a leasing requirement.

How do the outcomes specified in a relevant Appropriations Act contribute to ecologically sustainable development?The ABS receives appropriation for the purpose of informing the government on population, social and economic matters.

The environment component of the ABS’ economic statistics program collects and publishes information about environment and energy statistics, including environment accounts. The component is involved in the coordination of data collection, research and analysis, and implementation of international environmental accounting frameworks.

During 2006–07, the ABS released a greatly increased range of publications relevant to environmental issues. These included:

  • Environmental Issues: People’s Views and Practices (cat. no. 4602.0)
  • Water Use on Australian Farms 2004–05 (cat. no. 4618.0)
  • Australia’s Environment: Issues and Trends (cat. no. 4613.0)
  • Water Account Australia 2004–05 (cat. no. 4610.0)
  • Australian Social Trends (cat. no. 4102.0)
  • Measures of Australia’s Progress (cat. no. 1370.0)
  • Year Book Australia (cat. no. 1301.0)
  • Proposed Methodology for Producing Regional Water Use Estimates (cat. no. 4610.0.55.001)
  • Experimental Estimates of Regional Water Use, Australia (cat. no. 4610.0.55.002)
  • Water Access Entitlements, Allocations and Trading, 2003–04 (cat. no. 4610.0.55.003)
  • Research Paper: An Experimental Monetary Water Account for Australia (cat. no. 4616.0.55.004)
  • Research Paper: A Methodology for Estimating Regional Agricultural Water Use (cat. no. 4616.0.55.001)
  • Natural Resource Management on Australian Farms, 2004–05 (cat. no. 4620.0)
  • Domestic Water and Energy Use, New South Wales (cat. no. 4621.1)
  • Domestic Use of Water and Energy, WA (cat. no. 4652.5)
  • Characteristics of Australia’s Irrigated Farms, 2000–01 to 2003–04 (cat. no. 4623.0)
  • Environment and Energy News (cat. no. 4653.0).

During 2006–07, the ABS developed and despatched a survey of natural resource management activities of farmers. The results of these surveys will be published by mid-2008.
What is the effect of the organisation’s activities on the environment?The operation of the ABS contributes to a range of impacts on the environment through its use of electricity, petrol, water, paper and other materials consumed, and through its generation of waste.
What measures are taken by the organisation to minimise the impact of its activities on the environment?The ABS is continually improving practices to minimise the effect of its operations on the environment by:
  • committing resources to develop an Environmental Management System to operate from 2007–08 onwards
  • reviewing energy usage and management to ensure the ABS will meet the new Australian Government targets
  • consuming ‘green energy’, wherever possible, eg 10 per cent of energy consumed in the ABS central office is ‘green energy’
  • considering property location and proximity to transport hubs during property market testing
  • incorporating amenities during fit out that encourage staff to save water, cycle to work, and to recycle
  • installing dual flush toilets in the central office and waterless urinals in the ABS SA office, to assist in the reduction of water consumption
  • using re-manufactured and recycled cartridges for photocopiers, faxes and printers, and recycling used printer cartridges, wherever possible
  • recycling paper, bottles, cans and cardboard products in all offices
  • using paper with a 10 per cent recycled content in ABS central office and exploring opportunities to increase the recycled content
  • increasing the number of publications available electronically, introducing digital record-keeping, and computer-assisted interviewing to replace paper forms
  • heavily weighting energy ratings, when making purchasing decisions for whitegoods
  • considering the Greenhouse Vehicle Guide (GVG) when leasing government vehicles—in 2006–07, 50 per cent of ABS fleet vehicles had a GVG score of 10.5 or better. The ABS has positively contributed to the Australian Government reaching its target, and
  • keeping staff informed of good practices.
What are the mechanisms for reviewing and increasing the effectiveness of these measures?ABS engaged a team of consultants to conduct a strategic property review in 2006. This review included environmental issues. From the review came a number of recommendations, which the ABS will implement over the coming years, with a view to achieving energy savings and improving environmental performance.

Resources have been committed and work started on developing the ABS Environmental Management System that complies with ISO14001. Benchmarking of a number of areas of environmental concern has been undertaken. Once operational the Environmental Management System will allow the ABS to monitor and review the effectiveness of its environmental program on an ongoing basis.

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