Appendix 8: Ecologically sustainable development and environmental performance

Ecologically sustainable development


We administer a number of measures that support better environmental outcomes for Australians.

Under the energy grants cleaner fuel scheme, we pay grants to licensed manufacturers and distributors of cleaner fuels. The eligible fuels are biodiesel and renewable diesel. From 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011 businesses received grants covering 77.8 million litres of biodiesel and 3.1 million litres of renewable diesel. The cleaner fuel grants scheme was originally scheduled to close on 30 June 2011, however recent legislative amendments have extended this scheme indefinitely. A review will be conducted after 30 June 2020.

Under the Product Stewardship for Oil program, we collect a levy from manufacturers of relevant new mineral oils and recycled products and pay a grant to recyclers of used oil. We do this on behalf of the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. This scheme encourages environmental and economically sustainable reuse of waste oils. From 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011 we paid grants on 319.6 million litres of recycled waste oil.

In 2010-11, we focused on the implications of the new tax on alternative fuels. This legislation has now been passed and will come into effect on 1 December 2011. It is based on energy content and it incorporates a 50% tax discount for alternative fuels, which include liquefied petroleum gas, compressed natural gas and liquefied natural gas.

We also administer a measure which provides a deduction for capital expenditure incurred in establishing carbon-sink forests for the primary purpose of sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The Government's Carbon Pricing Proposal has been a matter for the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency and not the ATO. However, Treasury sought input from us on various income tax design issues in the lead up to the release of the exposure draft on the carbon pricing mechanism on 28 July 2011. Subsequently, we have been working closely with Treasury and Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency on the Clean Energy legislative package.

Environmental performance

The ATO's environmental management action plan focuses on leasing, energy use, waste management and water use.

We established a management committee to ensure we maintain an integrated approach to current and future environmental issues within our control. It also oversees our internal assurance process to ensure that we are reducing adverse environmental impact. The Australian National Audit Office also periodically audits our green procurement practices and sustainable office management.

We have a national network of 20 'green teams', set up under our site leadership initiatives. 'Green teams' initiatives in 2010-11 included:

  • an on-site re-use system for stationery to encourage staff to source used supplies such as folders and trays
  • an organic waste system to reduce waste going to landfill and raise awareness about the waste life cycle and composting options
  • site audits to encourage staff to switch off their computer monitors when they leave each day.

Complementing our focus on environmental issues, our corporate rewards and recognition scheme recognises staff initiatives producing significant, positive environmental impacts.

We report on our greenhouse gas emissions annually as part of the Online System for Comprehensive Activity Reporting. This mandatory reporting requirement is limited to electricity, gas and vehicle fuel consumption. From 2006-07 to 2009-10 our reportable greenhouse gas emissions reduced by 8,256 tonnes.

Property management

In conjunction with our contracted property provider, we are encouraging building owners to enter into green-lease schedules with us. The schedules formally commit the building owner and us to meeting energy-efficiency requirements for government operations (Energy Efficiency in Government Operations policy). The schedules set a minimum ongoing operational building energy performance standard, measured by the National Australian Built Environment Rating Scheme. We currently have green-lease schedules for three of our sites and 11 leases which include environmental considerations and clauses. Our new buildings are designed to achieve a five-green-star building standard and a minimum 4.5-star rating.

Our accommodation received the following National Australian Built Environment Rating System ratings:

TABLE 7.19: ATO accommodation rating, 2010-11


Building (a)

Water (b)

Latitude East, Sydney



Narellan Street, Canberra



City Central, Adelaide






Terrica Place, Brisbane



414 Latrobe St, Melbourne



390 Latrobe St. Melbourne



Box Hill






Waymouth Street, Adelaide



Casselden Place, Melbourne



Albury (Heritage listed site)









Queen Street, Melbourne









(a) National Australian Built Environment Rating System building energy rating is based on 12 month's consumption data and is only valid for the 12 months following the assessment date.

(b) National Australian Built Environment Rating System water rating assessments are not mandatory.

TABLE 7.20: ATO energy intensity, including gas and electricity, 2002-03 to 2009-10 and June 2011 Energy Efficiency in Government Operations (EEGO) target










2011 EEGO target

Tenant light and power (a) mj/pp









7,500 (a)

Central services (b) mj/m2









400 (b)

(a) Tenant light and power - a measurement of energy used for tenant operations in office space, including lighting, office equipment, and supplementary air conditioning and boiling water units.

(b) Central services - a measurement of energy used providing services, common to all tenants in office building, including building air conditioning, lifts, security and lobby lighting and domestic hot water.

We expect our downward trend in energy intensity to continue. Tenant light and power figures are expected to fall below our 2009-10 average of 6,052 mega joules per person. We closely monitor our central services energy consumption. While falling in 2009-10, central services remains above the June 2011 target of 400 mega joules per square metre. However, of the eight of our sites that are required to report on central services, three are already performing below the target, three underwent significant refurbishment in 2010 (including energy-saving upgrades to lighting, plant and equipment) and the final two will be vacated within two years.

We activate power-saving features when we install new equipment. For example, we program all multi-function devices - such as a combination photocopiers and faxes - to operate only from 7.00am to 7.00pm Monday to Friday, but they may be operated manually outside those times.

We are committed to the government's 2010-15 sustainability plan for information and communications technology (ICT). We continue to focus on improvements and initiatives in the area of green information technology for both desktops and data centres. This includes our automatic, nightly shutdown of desktop computers and our server virtualisation project.

Greenpower comprises 10% of total energy consumption for our sites in the Australian Capital Territory.

In 2010-11, our vehicles travelled over 587,000 less kilometres and consumed 1,000 less gigajoules of energy than in 2009-10. Our strategy is to retain in the fleet hybrid vehicles and vehicles with a green vehicle guide rating of 10.5 or more. Currently 50% of our fleet satisfies this rating. In line with the government's policy on ethanol-blended fuel (E10), we have enabled purchase of E10 fuel with fuel cards.

We provide video conferencing facilities in our major sites to allow interstate meetings and reduce staff travel requirements. System upgrades have added energy saving features on our video conferencing equipment.

To assist our employees reduce their carbon footprint we actively encourage use of public transport as an alternative to driving cars to work. For example, we advance loans to eligible staff to purchase six or 12-month public transport tickets. Staff repay these loans through fortnightly salary deductions. In 2010-11 over 400 staff participated in the scheme.

Paper consumption

All our sites use 50% recycled content A4 white paper.

In 2010-11 we reduced our paper usage by 9,086 reams (4.5 million sheets) from the previous year. Our overall paper consumption has reduced by 32% since 2004-05.

TABLE 7.21: Paper usage 2004-05 to 2010-11

Paper usage
















(a) Internal paper usage only.

(b) Excludes Australian Valuation Office usage.

Our employees are encouraged to use duplex or double-sided printing as the default. Since 2008 our multi-function devices - such as combination photocopiers and faxes - are programmed pre-delivery to operate on duplex mode. We have also introduced the concept of e-meetings - a practical means of reducing paper usage.

Our ATO Online 2015 (IT forward plan) encourages efficient online dealings between ourselves and taxpayers and their agents, and vice-versa. As well as productivity benefits for the community and us, it also promotes more paperless interactions.


We have a national secure-waste contract for removing and recycling all paper and paper-based products up to the 'protected' security level. Building management teams have introduced co-mingle and organic recycling programs in some sites, while smaller offices use council kerbside collections.

Some initiatives include:

  • recycling our toner cartridges via the close-the-loop initiative, diverting around 2,000 kilograms annually from landfill
  • recycling our mobile phones via the Aussie recycling program, an initiative in the mobile phone industry which focuses on re-using mobile phones where possible
  • recycling cardboard
  • requiring our stationery contract provider to collect delivery boxes for reuse
  • requiring our fluorescent tube provider to recycle old tubes.


We cover water-saving measures in our lease and refurbishment negotiations. Water management action plans are in place for our two identified high-consumption sites. We have on-site 'waterless' car washing where possible.

Green procurement

We consider environmental factors when purchasing goods and services, looking for benefits, including reduced energy consumption. Our approach also influences the behaviour of contractors and suppliers towards packaging and recycling - for example, our stationery contract.

Greening our information and communications technology

Conscious of environmental impacts, we relocated from an ageing Canberra data centre to a more modern facility in Sydney in 2010-11. The new data centre reduces our energy consumption and will enable us to improve our service delivery.

We are on track to meeting government targets outlined in the Australian Government ICT Sustainability Plan 2010-15. In 2010-11 we:

  • included environmental clauses in all our information technology services contracts based on ATO and Australian government policies
  • reviewed our desktop and printer fleet to improve utilisation
  • reached 70% server virtualisation as part of our data centre optimisation strategy.

In 2011-12 we are aiming to:

  • upgrade our primary mainframe which is estimated to use 30% less power
  • consolidate our data storage architecture
  • review our information technology procurement and waste management with best practices.

These initiatives will improve efficiency and reduce our ICT environmental footprint.

    Last modified: 31 Oct 2011QC 28036