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Improvement and sustainability initiatives

Under section 516A of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act, Commonwealth organisations have a statutory requirement to report on their environmental performance. The following information reports on our environmental performance in accordance with these requirements for 2019–20.

Green Lease Schedule management

As part of the Energy Efficiency in Government Operations (EEGO) Policy, a Green Lease Schedule is a mandatory inclusion in Government leases of more than 2000 m2. This schedule is a commitment to energy monitoring and improvement by the tenant and landlord. The Department has 15 leases that contain a Green Lease Schedule. The Department’s compliance with the key elements of the schedule include:

  • attending Building Management Committee meetings
  • developing energy management plans
  • undertaking the required National Australian Built Environment Rating System ratings annually
  • seeking to implement cost-effective energy efficiency programs, particularly at poor performing sites.

Information and communication technology sustainability initiatives

In 2019–20, we progressed simplifying our information and communications technology (ICT) operating environment by transitioning all staff to a consolidated end-user computing environment and releasing improvements to applications, such as improving the user interface and functionality of our intranet. We also continued to improve the experience for our operational officers, including refreshing the ICT hardware on ABF vessels. This has supported a highly available, resilient and supported ICT environment for operational officers. Our cyber security has improved, with significant progress made to the Australian Signals Directorate Top Four cyber security mitigations.

The Department actively manage our ICT assets, which support continuous operational requirements spanning immigration and citizenship operations, customs and trade facilitation, and intelligence. We continue to focus on the sustainability of our ICT assets, including through deliberate efforts to rationalise and decommission duplicate or legacy systems.

Heritage strategy

The Department managed obligations under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 to preserve and promote Australian Government heritage sites. The Villawood Immigration Detention Facility is our only property included on the Commonwealth Heritage List.

A heritage precinct was established on the northern boundary of the Villawood Immigration Detention Facility, facing Miowera and Gurney Roads. A heritage precinct master plan ensures the continuing protection of the site’s remaining heritage values.

The precinct features these key elements:

  • Villawood migrant hostel
  • two Nissen accommodation huts
  • former dining room (Saar hut)
  • boilers from the original laundry
  • interpretative signage.

Energy efficiency and sustainability initiatives

In 2019–20, the Department undertook a range of initiatives to improve energy efficiency and reduce its impact on the environment, including:

  • replacing fluorescent lights with sensor activated LED lighting
  • energy audits to support the sustainable management of our tenancies
  • commencement of a multi-year program to install solar panels across the Department’s residential housing portfolio
  • the use of digital signage within our tenancies to increase staff awareness of energy consumption
  • participation in Earth Hour 2020 by switching off non-essential lighting and office equipment at sites where feasible
  • soft plastic recycling trial in the ACT
  • joining the CitySwitch Green Office program
  • participation in National Recycling Week, including the ACTsmart Guinness World Record attempt for the largest amount of mobile phones collected for recycling in a 24 hour period
  • organic waste separation and collection at two sites in the ACT.

Table 21 details our performance year-on-year against the Energy Efficiency in Government Operations Tenant Light and Power target of 7500 megajoules (MJ) per person, per annum.

Table 21 – Energy performance against EEGO Tenant Light and Power target

Department of Home Affairs




Tenant light and power

(EEGO policy target—7,500 MJ)




The department’s Tenant Light and Power was 8,292 MJ/FTE. This is higher than the prescribed Commonwealth target of 7,500MJ/FTE.

This target is derived from a generic office performing at 4.5 star NABERS energy and no unusual operating characteristics. It does not take into account the department’s (often) shift-based nature, nor its considerable number of networks and supporting communications infrastructure. However, this target was also defined in 2006, prior to significant improvements in computer and lighting energy efficiency.

On balance, the department should be meeting, or slightly beating the Commonwealth target. Key factors preventing this were:

  • operating multiple sites at 24/7 levels since January 2020 in response to external events including bushfire smoke and COVID-19
  • inefficient lighting
  • no ability to separately account between air conditioning services and tenant light and power
  • energy inefficient server/comms room air conditioning.

Projects, such as the LED lighting improvement at 299 Adelaide Street, completed in June 2020, will go towards improving the Department’s performance in this measure. Other factors including selective optimisation and replacement projects, and judicious site-selection and lease negotiation will also contribute to improved performance against the target.