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Appendix 9 - Environmental performance and ecologically sustainable development

During 2004-2005, the Museum continued its commitment to the conservation of natural resources through improved energy management and the implementation of a number of other initiatives aimed at minimising the impact on the environment from its operations. The table below details the Museum's activities during 2004-2005.

Paragraph Item Requirement Activity/contribution
Paragraph 516A(6)(a) How the activities of the organisation accord with the principles of Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD)

The Museum's Environmental Management Policy, currently in final development, highlights the Museum's commitment to operate within the principles of Ecologically Sustainable Development wherever possible.
The Museum has developed an Environmental Management System that meets or exceeds the requirements of ISO14001, to assist all staff to undertake their work in a manner that minimises the risk to the environment. The EMS is in its final trial stage and is expected to be implemented in the first quarter of 2005-2006. The promotion of ecologically sustainable development is woven through the content of the Museum's permanent and temporary exhibitions, as well as its programs designed for students, its public programs and its administrative and decision-making processes.

Examples include the Tangled Destinies gallery, which emphasises the interrelationship between humans and the environment and where a recent changeover saw the installation of a new module, Australians Living Inland, which explores the relationship of three communities, Kalgoorlie, Wagga Wagga and Alice Springs, to their environment and water sustainability. Public programs included forums such as Pass the Salt that explored how museums can contribute to conversations about caring for the land and responding to salinity.

The Museum continues to contribute, wherever possible, to the protection and improvement of the Canberra environment via its partnerships with the Australian National University, Australian National Botanic Gardens, CSIRO Black Mountain, Environment ACT, Lower Sullivan's Creek Catchment Group and the National Capital Authority.

The Lower Sullivan's Creek Catchment ecological survey is an ongoing project that the Museum contributes to both expertise and funding. This nationally significant project aims to develop a bio-diversity management plan for the Lower Sullivan's Creek Catchment area.

Paragraph item Requirements Activity/contribution
Paragraph 516A(b) How the administration of legislation by the organisation accorded with the principles of ESD

The Museum's functions, as set out in the National Museum of Australia Act 1980, continue to remain consistent with the spirit of ESD principles. These include programs that 'improve the total quality of life, both now and in the future, in a way that maintains the ecological processes on which life depends'.

Fundamentally, the Museum's functions are to:

  • develop and maintain a national collection of historical material
  • exhibit historical material from the National Historical Collection or historical material that is otherwise in the possession of the Museum
  • exhibit material that relates to Australia's past, present and future
  • conduct research relating to Australian history
  • disseminate information relating to Australian history

Also see (a) above

Paragraph 516A(6)(c) How the outcomes specified for the organisation in an Appropriations Act contribute to ESD

The outcome specified for the National Museum in the Government's 2004-2005 Portfolio Budget Statement is that:

'Australians have access to the National Museum's collections and public programs to encourage awareness and understanding of Australia's history and culture.'

Whilst not directly contributing to ESD, an increased awareness and understanding of Australia's history and culture by the public, is still relevant to ESD principles.

Paragraph 516A(6)(d) The effect of the organisation's activities on the environment

The Museum's activities have the potential to affect the environment through consumption of energy, waste production, and the impact on local waterways, flora and fauna.

See (e) below

Paragraph 516A(6)(d) The effect of the organisation's activities on the environment

Various strategies have been put in place to reduce the Museum's environmental impact.
These strategies, along with relevant targets and objectives, have been developed as part the Museum's Environmental Management System.

These include the reduction of energy consumption, increase in waste recycling, and the use of environmentally friendly cleaning chemicals.

Reduction of energy consumption: The Museum's energy monitoring system allows independent monitoring of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system to enable accurate tracking of energy usage across the Acton site. Ongoing monitoring will provide quantifiable historical data that will assist in the revision of system operation and in the development of energy management strategies.

Installation of a new low load chiller at the Acton site to provide a more energy efficient operation of the chilled water system. The installation is expected to be completed early in the new year and will also enhance the Museum's back-up capacity in the system.

The continuing program to change lighting in the exhibition and administration areas, by replacing 50-watt dichroic lighting with 35-watt lighting that provide a broader light output at a reduced lux level, is expected to lead to a reduction in energy consumption. The energy monitoring system will allow tracking of energy usage in some of these areas.

Re-programming of lighting control systems and the use of lower wattage lighting in the Hall were further steps taken to reduce energy consumption. These measures have also resulted in increased lamp life and improved lighting conditions on cloudy days. This methodology will continue to be extended throughout the galleries and operational areas within the Museum during 2005-2006.

The Museum's energy monitoring system will also allow tracking of changes in energy usage when operational and control strategies are revised.

Recycling: An ongoing review of the Museum's recycling program has led to an increased paper, toner cartridge and glass/plastic bottles recycling in the administration areas.

Further assessment of the function and aesthetics of the triple bins proposed for use in the restaurant/café areas was required. These are now expected to be installed in the first half of 2005-2006.

Environmentally Friendly Cleaning Chemicals: All cleaning chemicals used by the Museum's cleaning contractors continue to meet the specifications set out in AS/ANZ ISO 14001:1996 'Environmental Management Systems - Specification with guidance for use' and AS/ANZ ISO 14004:1996 'Environmental Management Systems - General guidelines of principles, systems, and supporting techniques'

Paragraph 516A(6)(f) The mechanisms (if any) for reviewing and increasing the effectiveness of those measures

The Museum's Environmental Management System is in the final trial stage and is expected to be implemented across the Museum in the first quarter of 2005-2006. The EMS incorporates guidelines for all Museum activities to reduce its impact on the environment well as promote efficient use of resources management of energy, waste and water on Acton Peninsula and Mitchell sites. A review mechanism is an integral part of this System.

The Energy Monitoring System will now allow the Museum to review the effectiveness of the programmed lighting changes that have already been implemented in the Museum.