Annual Report 2014–15

5Managing resources and assets

Environmental performance

The AEC’s Finance and Business Services Branch is responsible for the sustainable management of property, workplace services and security. The recent move of the AEC’s national office to a 6 Green Star rated building has improved the agency’s environmental performance.


The AEC manages its environmental performance by minimising the impact of its operations on the environment, encouraging sustainable business practices, managing waste and monitoring energy and resource use.

The National Property Team (NPT), within the Finance and Business Services Branch, is committed to developing, implementing and maintaining improvements to environmental and sustainability practices and performance for all properties within the AEC’s property portfolio.

Environmental performance incorporates nationwide sustainable procurement practices, building operations and the management of national, state/territory and divisional offices. It also includes the impact of state and federal elections and management of the waste reduction programme for the NEEC.

The AEC’s Environment Management Commitment is provided on its website.

Sustainable development

Sustainable use of premises

In accordance with section 516A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) the AEC reports on environmental performance and measures that minimise environmental impact, including:

  • the recommendations of the Australian National Audit Office’s Performance Audit Report No.47 of 1998–99
  • Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities’ Energy Efficiency in Government Operations policy
  • Fleet Monitoring Body guidelines for use of ethanol.

The AEC continues to take the following measures to minimise the effect of office operations on the environment:

  • contracting service providers to collect and recycle paper, cardboard, plastics, aluminium and glass from national office
  • contracting service providers to remove spent toner cartridges from all offices
  • using partly or wholly recyclable products wherever possible
  • applying double-sided default printer settings to reduce office paper consumption
  • promoting E10 petrol for AEC vehicles
  • considering environmental impacts in the design and layout of new and upgraded accommodation
  • working with contracted property services providers to reduce energy consumption in state/territory and divisional offices.

The AEC also adheres to a range of environmental management requirements, listed in Table 18.

Sustainable procurement practices

The AEC addresses sustainable procurement in accordance with: the Commonwealth Procurement Rules; the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities’ Sustainable Procurement Guide; and the AEC Procurement Policy.

Value for money is a core principle of the AEC’s Procurement Policy. As a result, the agency values goods and service providers that reduce:

  • energy and consumption demand
  • unnecessary consumption
  • end-of-life disposal.
Table 18: Legislative compliance and reporting for environmental management
Area Requirements

Energy Efficiency in Government Operations (EEGO Policy)

Office tenant light and power to be 7 500 MJ per person per annum.

Office central services (e.g. air-conditioning, elevators, base build lighting and hot water) to be 400 MJ per m2 per annum.

Office lighting to not exceed 10W per m2.

Refurbishments over 2 000 m2 to satisfy 4.5 NABERS Energy Rating. New buildings over 2 000 m2 to satisfy 4.5 NABERS Energy Rating. Green Lease Schedules for new leases over 2 000 m2 and for two-year terms.

Commonwealth Procurement Rules

Where financially viable, minimise environmental impact over the life of goods and services by choosing products or services that have lower adverse impacts associated with any stage in their production, use or disposal.

Commonwealth Property Management Framework and Guidelines

The Commonwealth Property Management Framework focuses on achieving efficient, effective and sustainable property outcomes and sets out arrangements under which the AEC is responsible for its performance. When determining the merits of a property the AEC will (on a case-by-case basis) take into consideration cost-benefit analysis (using Whole-of-Life Costs) and environmental obligations and impact.

The Property Guidelines seek to enhance good property management practice across agencies, providing increased efficiency and effectiveness of property use in the course of Government business.

Australian Packaging Covenant

Arrangements in place for efficient collection and recycling of packaging.

National Waste Policy

Avoid the generation of waste, reduce the amount of waste (including hazardous waste) for disposal.

Manage waste as a resource.

Ensure that waste treatment, disposal, recovery and re-use are undertaken in a safe, scientific and environmentally sound manner.

Contribute to the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, energy conservation and production, water efficiency and the productivity of the land.

Throughout 2014–15, the AEC approached the open market for procurement of:

  • provision of election training and workplace support services
  • web hosting solution
  • furniture and equipment hire
  • café services
  • data capture services
  • development and support services for Microsoft Dynamics GP and associated software
  • interpreting and translation services
  • office locator
  • transactional banking services
  • ballot paper scanning and counting technology
  • temporary election workforce
  • provision of alarm monitoring at AEC warehouses and West Block offices
  • provision of polling equipment.

The NPT are committed to sustainable procurement practices, as outlined in Table 19.

Table 19: Sustainable resource management
Area Requirements


Ensure cleaning products have Safety Data Sheets (SDSs), which include the ecological impact for each product/chemical.

Maintain accurate and complete records for reporting purposes on the consumption and supply of office equipment and related consumables.

Fit-out and refurbishment

Procure products that are recycled or have recycled content and are recyclable at the end-of-life—where practical, fit-for-purpose and cost effective.

Where possible, procure products with eco-labels that are compliant to ISO 14024 or ISO 14021 eco-labelling standards (life cycle impacts), such as timber and wood products meeting Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified sources/forests or Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).

Procure products that have energy conservation features in their design.

Procure products that are designed for longevity and have design features which minimise the environmental impact at end of life, or have options for manufacturer/supplier take back.

Procure products that are designed and supplied with low environmental load packaging, while maximising the purpose of preventing damage or breakage.

Procure products that have energy conservation features in their design (a minimum level of 5 Stars under the ENERGY STAR® program) where such equipment is available, fit for purpose and cost effective.

For appropriate contracts, apply an appropriate evaluation measure or weighting to environmental criteria in procurements.

Procure products that have reduced or eliminated environmentally sensitive materials and substances such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in paints and solvents, mercury, lead, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, short chain chlorinated paraffin (SCCP) flame retardants and plasticisers in certain applications.

Minimising impact

Building design

The relocation of the AEC’s national office to 50 Marcus Clarke Street in central Canberra in May 2015 significantly improved the AEC’s environmental performance, particularly in the areas of building design, water and energy use. Table 20 outlines the national environmental ratings of the building.

A key aspect of these premises is the use of an integrated trigeneration system which simultaneously produces three forms of energy – electricity, heating and cooling. This single system produces power, hot water, space heating and air-conditioning for the entire building which considerably reduces the greenhouse gases produced. The building’s overall lighting power density is kept to an average of 1.75 W/m2/100 lux.

Energy conservation

Energy efficient operations in the national office include the use of:

  • energy-efficient dishwashers and refrigerators
  • automatic energy-saving mode for multi-function devices and machines
  • automatic energy-saving mode for desktop computers and monitors
  • motion-sensitive, task-based lighting (Digital Addressable Lighting Interface)
  • low-flow sensor taps
  • grey water recycling for flushing toilets
  • dual-flush cisterns and waterless or low-flow urinals
  • rainwater retention for use in cooling towers.
Table 20: National office environmental ratings
Rating Body

6 Star Green Star As Built (whole of building)

The Green Star rating is awarded by the Green Building Council of Australia as an internationally recognised sustainability rating system.

The Office Design v2 category evaluates the environmental potential and operational performance of commercial office design.

5 Star Green Star Office Interiors

5.5 Star NABERS Energy for both Base Building and Tenancy

NABERS is a national rating system that measures the environmental performance of Australian buildings, measuring energy efficiency, water usage, waste management, indoor environment quality and impact on the surrounding environment. Ratings range from one star (lowest) to six stars (highest).

5.5 Star NABERS Water

4.5 Star NABERS Indoor Environment

4.5 Star NABERS Waste

The NPT is committed to establishing standards, programs and innovative practices to improve energy efficiency across the AEC’s property portfolio. Table 21 outlines the considerations and activities related to energy consumption.

Water and energy use

The AEC aims to adopt best practice water and energy management in its business activities conducted at national, state/territory and divisional offices.

Water conservation

Water conservation activities include: the efficient use of energy and water resources; conservation of water resources; and minimisation of wastewater disposal.

While strategies for the conservation of water use are limited across the AEC network, the NPT has made improvements to the capture and use of water across the property portfolio. These are outlined in Table 22.

For 2014–15, the use of light and power energy across all AEC premises was 11 320.6 megajoules per person which represents a 127.9 per cent increase on the previous year. This increase is due to staffing fluctuations related to the 2014–15 non-election period.

Waste and recycling

Processes relating to waste management and recycling may vary from site to site, within the AEC national network. Initiatives include, but are not limited to:

  • general waste disposal
  • recycling paper
  • recycling shredded paper
  • recycling cardboard
  • recycling of aluminium, plastic, cans and glass bottles
  • printer cartridge and fax toner waste disposal.
Table 21: Energy consumption considerations across the network
Area Requirements


Review provision for accredited renewable energy (e.g. Green power) take-up in electricity contracts.

Maintain accurate and complete records for reporting purposes on electricity and gas use in buildings, refrigerant types used in air conditioning systems and fire retardants used in fire suppression systems.

Ensure non-AEC energy-intensive power consuming devices that are continuous in operation must not to be connected to power points (e.g. fish tanks, digital photo frames, fans and heaters), unless approved by the NPT and respective State Manager and/or Branch Head.

Provide for major property energy efficiency and greenhouse initiatives through the annual strategic property planning review.


Ensure approved AEC energy-intensive devices must be switched off when not in use.

Make effective use of curtains or blinds to optimise air conditioner and heating system efficiency.

Fit-out and refurbishment

Ensure newly constructed or major refurbishments of tenanted space meet the minimum energy performance standard set out in the EEGO policy.

Include the provision for renewable energy generation initiatives into new building designs and fit-outs.


Ensure new office leases over 2 000 m2 and two-year duration include the relevant version of the Green Lease Schedule (GLS) which contains ongoing minimum energy performance standards.

Ensure the National Australian Built Environmental Rating System (NABERS) assessment and evidence of market testing occurs and is taken into account in overall cost considerations before exercising a lease option.

Ensure separate digital metering is established to differentiate the supply between base building and tenancy energy use.

Include the provision for renewable energy generation initiatives into new building designs and fit-outs.

Table 22: Water consumption considerations across the network
Area Requirements

Administration (Fit-Out, Refurbishment and Leasing)

Introduce water conservation measures into building leases for existing and/or new tenancies, toilets and urinals with high Water Efficiency and Labelling Service (WELS) scheme star ratings, re-use systems, rainwater harvesting and the use of drought-tolerant native plant species local to the area.

Maintain accurate and complete records for reporting purposes on the water infrastructure established during refurbishments.

Apply strategies and procedures to effectively arrange potable water use.


Report tap water leakages in a timely manner to the relevant responsible areas.


Ensure mains digital metering is established to differentiate the supply between base building and tenancy water use.

The AEC’s Environmental and Sustainability Guide also provides staff with instruction on the responsible disposal of:

  • cleaning chemicals
  • volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in paints and solvents
  • staff amenity paper products
  • furniture
  • kitchen supplies.

Vehicle use and travel reduction

AEC business vehicles are selected in accordance with the Department of Finance vehicle selection policy, with a focus on reduced CO2 emissions when comparing suitable models.

Sustainable move of the national office

A number of staggered activities were undertaken to ensure the national office move to 50 Marcus Clarke Street in central Canberra was socially and commercially sustainable.


  • All staff thoroughly cleared out their work stations and related storage areas, to reduce the amount of materials moved to the new office. This significantly reduced the weight and fuel consumption of the moving vehicles involved.
  • The move presented an opportunity to keep unwanted items out of landfill by recycling paper, glass, plastic and cardboard matter.
  • Unclaimed or unwanted items that were particularly useful, or of high value, were put up for silent auction with the proceeds going towards staff orientation and relocation resources.
  • The move allowed for a thorough inventory of all archival materials.
  • Old furniture and existing office fit-out was left behind intact, for new tenants.
  • Items of national significance were donated to the relevant cultural institution (e.g. the national tally board was given to the Museum of Australian Democracy and 20 boxes of publications and reports were provided to the National Library of Australia).
  • Staff were fully engaged and consulted throughout all stages of the office move, with an active online platform providing a forum for questions and information sharing (e.g. new building orientation and familiarity with surrounding amenities).

National Electoral Education Centre waste reduction programme

The ACTSmart Business Recycling Programme assesses the waste reduction initiatives of businesses located in the Australian Capital Territory. In November 2014, the National Electoral Education Centre (NEEC) was awarded its fifth ACTSmart accreditation.

In 2014–15 the NEEC extended its paper recycling efforts to include other materials such as plastic bottles. In the five years that the NEEC has actively participated in the programme it has reduced annual landfill waste to 2.9 cubic metres per annum, representing a waste reduction of 83 per cent. This achievement has been maintained despite the fact that the NEEC maintains annual visitor numbers of 90 000.