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Ecologically Sustainable Development and Environmental Performance

Natural Resource Consumption

Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Defence continued its commitment during the year to improve energy efficiency and reduce energy wastage consistent with the Commonwealth energy policy.

To achieve this, Defence conducted the following specific activities:

  • The construction of all new and re-furbished buildings will take into account energy efficiency measures, including augmentation using solar energy in some remote locations.
  • The development of a draft energy management instruction which will give effect to the draft defence energy management strategy, due to be completed by June 2005.
  • The incorporation of energy efficiency as a key objective in guidance and relevant contract documents for the planning, design, development and delivery of all Defence capital projects, including refurbishment.
  • The continuing participation as a board member of the Green Building Council, with a strong interest in energy efficiency innovations applicable to Defence.
  • The application of energy rating tools to new buildings including assessments of energy performance.
  • The provision of Defence energy consumption data to the annual whole-of-government energy report, Energy Use in the Australian Government's Operations.

Based on actual data for nine months and forecast data for the last three months of 2003-04, it is predicted that Defence's consumption of electricity in 2003-04 (2,659,056 Gj) would increase marginally from actual consumption reported in 2002-03 (2,564,722 Gj). This increase would be due primarily to increased operational tempo and introduction of additional facilities to support capability. Despite the overall increase, Defence continues to meet the office consumption targets set under the Commonwealth energy policy and its Greenhouse Challenge Agreement target of saving 120,000 CO2 tonnes (over the period July 1999 - June 2004).

Major savings in greenhouse gas emissions were achieved through energy efficient building designs, upgrades to heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems and introduction of energy efficient equipment. The introduction of building management systems and the use of solar alternative energy assisted in achieving further savings.

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Water Use and Conservation

Defence sought to minimise water consumption especially in areas subject to drought conditions. Where available, recycled water was used for irrigation purposes and specific site-based water conservation initiatives were introduced following the release of the Defence Sustainable Water Management Strategy in February 2004.

Defence also commenced a water conservation communication and awareness project that includes the development of posters and web pages with case study examples and water conservation checklists.

Waste Generation

Defence sites commenced active integration of waste management into relevant sites of the Defence environmental management systems, consistent with the draft waste minimisation and recycling strategy. Specific waste management procedures were also implemented for deployed forces in East Timor.

Defence recycles paper and office consumables in most regions and achieved a saving of 1,693 kilograms of office consumable waste diverted from landfill and collected and recycled over 2,000 items, including used printer cartridges, photocopying drums and toner bottles.

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Pollution Prevention

Defence undertook a study to identify potential contaminants being used by Defence and to evaluate environmental aspects, pathways and impacts of these contaminants.

The study findings will assist in identifying the risks of potential polluting sources at Defence sites and inform a review of current pollution abatement and waste disposal initiatives.

Soil and Water Contamination

Contamination management initiatives were a key focus of Defence during the year. Initiatives included:

  • development and implementation of the Defence Contaminated Land Management Strategy to provide guidance on the identification and minimisation of contamination risks and the management of existing contamination, including the publication of a number of best-practice guidebooks;
  • the Defence Contaminated Sites Register to provide data and information to support the Defence Contaminated Land Management Strategy and assist decision makers at the regional and corporate levels;
  • development of a graduate certificate in contamination investigation and management, in conjunction with the University of South Australia, to assist Defence personnel in implementing best practice strategies for the management of site contamination. A total of 15 Defence personnel are currently undertaking the certificate; and
  • commencement of three contamination investigation flagship projects with the Centre for Environmental Risk Assessment and Remediation and the University of South Australia. The aim of the flagship program is to investigate complex contamination issues at Defence sites and to apply the lessons derived from the program to sites where similar contamination issues exist.

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Waste Treatment and Disposal

Following on from the position paper developed in 2002-03, Defence undertook a study into waste treatment and disposal issues associated with Defence activities.

The study identified the number of sewage treatment plants across the Defence estate and evaluated the operational effectiveness of a sample of these.

Recommendations on improving the operation and management of these sewage treatment plants were made to Defence managers and steps are being taken to implement improvements in performance.

National Pollutant Inventory

Defence has participated in the National Pollutant Inventory program for the past two reporting years.

Due to the diverse and dispersed nature of Defence activities and the breadth of chemicals involved, Defence is reviewing the extent of its participation, in consultation with the Department of the Environment and Heritage.

Ozone Depletion

The Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989 controls the use of ozone depleting substances and their synthetic greenhouse gas alternatives. Additionally, it empowers the Government to develop national end-use controls on the purchase, sale, handling and disposal of both ozone depleting substances and synthetic greenhouse gases.

Defence continued to manage the phase out of ozone depleting substances and synthetic greenhouse gases.

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