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Appendix 9 - Environmental performance and ecologically sustainable development

During 2005–06, 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 of its operations on the environment. Under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, all Commonwealth agencies are required to report on their environmental performance and contribution to ecologically sustainable development. The table below details the Museum's key activities during 2005–06.

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 developed and implemented an Environmental Management System (EMS) 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.

A cornerstone of the EMS is the Environmental Management Policy, which highlights the Museum's commitment to operate within the principles of ESD wherever possible.

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 Old New Land gallery, which emphasises the interrelationship between humans and the environment, particularly in 'Australians Living Inland', which explores the relationship of three communities, Kalgoorlie, Wagga Wagga and Alice Springs, to their environment and water sustainability.

The Museum continues to contribute both funding and expertise, 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.

An example of this is the Museum's ongoing contribution of resources to the Lower Sullivan's Creek Catchment ecological survey, a nationally significant project that aims to develop a biodiversity management plan for the Lower Sullivan's Creek Catchment area.

Paragraph 516A
(6)(b)

How the administration of legislation by the organisation accords 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 Museum in the government's 2005–06 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.'

While 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)(e)

The measures (if any) taken by the organisation to minimise this impact

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 EMS.

(continued)

Paragraph 516A
(6)(e) (continued)

The measures (if any) taken by the organisation to minimise this impact

These include the reduction of energy consumption, increase in waste recycling, and the use of environmentally friendly cleaning chemicals. The EMS includes procedures aimed at assisting all staff and volunteers to minimise the impact of their work on the environment. These have also been incorporated, where relevant, into the Museum's Contractor Site Book to make contractors aware of their requirements in relation to environmental management.

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.

A new low load chiller was installed at the Acton site to provide a more energy efficient operation of the chilled water system. It is expected that the low load chiller will save approximately $30,000 on energy consumption annually, and will also enhance the Museum's back-up capacity.

The continuing program to change lighting in the exhibition and administration areas, by replacing 50-watt dichroic lighting with 35-watt lighting that provides a broader light output at a reduced lux level, is expected to result in a reduction in energy consumption. Additionally, multi-channel lighting controllers are being progressively installed within exhibition cases to provide greater flexibility of lighting to the Museum's National Historical Collection. The multi-channel dimmer controls allow exhibitions to have varying lighting lux levels for objects. This should also have a positive impact on energy use due to reduced load. The energy monitoring system will allow tracking of energy usage in some of these areas.

Paragraph 516A
(6)(e) (continued)

The measures (if any) taken by the organisation to minimise this impact

Reprogramming of lighting control systems and the use of lower wattage lighting in the Hall were further steps taken to reduce energy consumption. These measures, and the introduction of PE cells, have also resulted in increased lamp life and improved lighting conditions on cloudy days. The Museum's energy monitoring system will also allow tracking of changes in energy usage when operational and control strategies are revised. System changes planned for 2006–07 include alarm points that will monitor daily levels of maximum demand and sound an alarm to advise of higher than expected loads.

Recycling: An ongoing review of the Museum's recycling program has led to increased paper, toner cartridge and glass/plastic bottle recycling in the administration areas. Cardboard recycling commenced in the administration areas during 2005–06.

A proposal to install triple bins in the restaurant/café areas is being considered. These bins will encourage the separation of green waste (food scraps), recyclable waste (paper, glass and aluminium) and non-recyclable waste. An assessment of the functionality and aesthetics of these bins is underway and it is proposed that they will be designed, fabricated and installed during 2006–07.

Environmentally friendly cleaning chemicals: All cleaning chemicals used by the Museum's cleaning contractors 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 EMS was implemented during 2005–06. The EMS incorporates guidelines for all Museum activities to reduce their impact on the environment, as well as to promote efficient use of resources and management of energy, waste and water at the Acton and Mitchell sites. A mechanism to monitor and review performance is an integral part of this system.