The department’s policy activities and operations accorded with the principles of ecologically sustainable development as required by section 516A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). Under our three outcomes we:
- contributed to the development of global frameworks supporting ecologically sustainable development, including:
- shaping a new global treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ), including supporting effective Pacific participation in the BBNJ negotiations
- promoting environmental protection in the Antarctic Treaty system
- ensuring a precautionary approach is taken to regulation of deep seabed mining
- applied our environmental and social safeguard policy and operational procedures to ensure our development assistance investments were delivered in accordance with the principles of ecologically sustainable development
- conducted assessments in accordance with our Environmental and Social Safeguard framework to determine whether a referral to the Minister for the Environment was required under the EPBC Act. In 2019–20 no projects required referral
- commissioned an independent review of the department’s Environmental and Social Safeguard Policy
- published the Climate Change Action Strategy (2020–2025) to guide integration of climate change action and disaster risk reduction across our development program
- stayed on track to exceed Australia’s commitment to provide $1 billion in climate finance over five years (2015–2020), including our $300 million commitment to the Pacific
- promoted healthy oceans for sustainable development and shared Australia’s marine ecosystems management expertise, including funding and supporting the General Meeting of the International Coral Reef Initiative
- supported sustainable fisheries management and oceans governance at the local, national and regional scale across the Pacific, for economic growth, food security and environmental conservation
- led global efforts to conserve coastal ecosystems, including blue carbon ecosystems (mangroves, tidal marshes and seagrasses), which play a significant role in carbon sequestration and coral reefs
- worked to develop a framework to more systematically consider sustainability and resilience objectives in our operations, secure savings by adopting new technologies, and reduce—where possible—our overall environmental footprint
- ensured sustainable development and environmental performance were considered in applicable property-related decisions in the overseas estate through overarching portfolio environmental policy and environmental management plans
- applied contemporary and cost-effective sustainability measures in all new construction projects and—where possible—benchmarking project specifications to achieve local environmental sustainability ratings. We aim to reduce waste to landfill by using Australian prefabricated products
- included sustainability measures in all new construction projects where possible. This included photovoltaic cells, green roofs, energy-efficient lighting, daylight and motion sensors, zoned air-conditioning systems, rainwater harvesting and building management systems
- initiated two large-scale renewable energy pilot projects at posts (currently on hold due to COVID-19)
- expanded our water saving initiatives through a rainwater harvesting project at our post in Islamabad
- continued implementing smart metering strategies to reliably measure and monitor energy consumption. This will help make posts more efficient and reduce energy consumption.
The Energy Efficiency in Government Operations (EEGO) policy sets the minimum energy performance standard for Australian Government buildings to achieve energy targets, ensuring that entities progressively improve their performance through the procurement and ongoing management of energy efficient office buildings and environmentally sound equipment and appliances. Under the policy, agencies must meet the target of no more than 7,500 megajoules (MJ) per person each year for office tenant light and power. In 2019–20 the department met this target, using 7,185 MJ per person.
Table 29: DFAT domestic portfolio EEGO summary data
Complicance with EEGO policy
Tenant light and power
Note: some of the data in table 29 above differs to that reported in the 2018–19 annual report due to better data collection and validation processes. These processes have been applied to recent historic data to help establish accurate trends
Table 30: DFAT’s domestic portfolio stationary energy consumption
Per cent change
Category of consumption
(2018-19 to 2019-20)
Office tenant light and power electricity (MJ)
Office Gas (MJ)
Other building energy (MJ)
Total energy (MJ)
MJ = megajoule
The RG Casey Building is the department’s main source of domestic energy consumption. We monitor this closely and during the year worked with the building owner’s representative to identify, implement and review energy efficiency measures. The building’s energy consumption increased significantly over January and February 2020 to prevent smoke build-up from bushfires. This increase was largely offset by efficiency initiatives during the year, together with a drop in building occupation as staff worked from home due to COVID-19. Overall consumption was not significantly different to the previous two years. As the building returns to normal use, we expect the benefits of our efficiency measures to be further realised.
As part of our strategic accommodation planning, we aim to meet the requirements of the Green Lease Schedule Policy: that is, for tenancies of greater than 2,000m2 with a lease term greater than two years, accommodation must meet the ‘A’ grade standard of the Building Owners and Managers Association International guidelines and meet a minimum National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) rating of 4.5 stars.
Table 31 summarises the department’s green lease agreements across our domestic property portfolio during the reporting period, and—where relevant—the corresponding NABERS ratings.
Table 31: Domestic estate Green Lease Schedule and NABERS ratings
NABERS tenancy rating
Green Lease Schedule
RG Casey Building, Barton
A (gross lease)
255 London Circuit(2)
Nil (lease in place prior to GLS development)
40 Allara Street, Canberra City
L2, 747 Collins Street, Melbourne
44 Sydney Avenue, Barton
- Rating yet to be formally completed
- Voluntary rating
Compared to the previous reporting period, the number of domestic and international trips originating in Australia reduced by 32 and 30 per cent respectively (a total of 4,132 trips). This was mainly due to COVID-19.
All Australian passports issued during the reporting period were printed on paper produced from wood pulp certified as sustainable and ethically-sourced.