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Sustainability: Taking care of the environment

The Museum remains committed to the conservation of natural resources through ongoing improvements to its energy management and the implementation of a number of other initiatives aimed at minimising environmental impact from its operations. The promotion of ecologically sustainable development (ESD) principles is woven into the content of the Museum’s programs and administrative and decision-making processes.

The Museum’s Environmental Management System incorporates guidelines for all Museum activities to reduce their impact on the environment. It also promotes the management of energy, waste and water on all Museum sites. The system was developed to meet ISO14001:1996 ‘Environmental management systems – specification with guidance for use’. It was designed to be accessible for all staff to allow them to minimise risks to the environment. The Environmental Management Policy, which was updated in January 2012, highlights the Museum’s commitment to operate within the principles of ecologically sustainable development wherever possible.

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. A number of ongoing strategies have been put in place to reduce the Museum’s environmental impact.

These include:

  • reducing energy consumption
  • increasing waste recycling
  • decreasing water use
  • using more environmentally friendly cleaning chemicals.

Monitoring and reviewing performance are integral to the Museum’s Environmental Management System. Ongoing reviews are carried out on targets and objectives to ensure they remain relevant to Museum operations and continue to meet changing government requirements.

Environmental initiatives

During the year, the Museum implemented the following measures to minimise the environmental impact of its operations.

Reduction of energy consumption

The Museum continues to purchase 10 per cent of its electricity from renewable energy sources, and in addition has worked to reduce overall energy consumption through:

  • a continuing program of energy management works, including modifications to the chiller thermal plant programming of the Building Management System
  • provision of improved controllers for chilled water in the air conditioning plant
  • installation of improved controls for boilers to reduce gas consumption
  • continued replacement of existing light fittings with energy efficient LED lighting throughout the Museum building.

Energy efficiency is a key guiding principle in the design and construction of the major building work currently underway at the Acton site. This will include the selection and use of energy efficient materials and finishes in the extensions to the administration building and the cafe. The Museum is seeking to achieve the equivalent of a 4.5 star NABERS (National Australian Built Environment Rating System) rating in the design and construction of the administration building extension.

The Museum has also undertaken a review of its vehicle fleet operations and as a result has reduced the fleet by two vehicles.

Recycling

The Museum continues to recycle paper, cardboard, toner cartridges, and glass and plastic bottles in the administration areas and encourages visitors to the Museum to recycle.

Waste

The Museum monitors and reports on the amount of waste to landfill, as a percentage of its total waste. This year the Museum implemented a more comprehensive methodology for measuring the amount of waste. These figures will be used as a baseline for measuring improvements in future years.

Water use

The Museum continued to reduce levels of water usage with hybrid semi-waterless urinals in high-use public toilets, as well as dual-flush toilets and water-saving showerheads in leasehold buildings. The Museum monitors water consumption by meters installed in critical areas, such as cooling towers.

Although watering restrictions have been eased in the Australian Capital Territory, watering of the gardens and cleaning of the external facade continue to be minimised.

Environmentally friendly cleaning practices

The Museum now uses toilet paper and paper hand towels made from 100 per cent recycled material. These products are Australian made and certified by Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA).

The Museum has also successfully implemented a new range of environmentally friendly cleaning products that feature readily biodegradable components, have very low or no toxicity, ultra-low volatile organic compounds, no phosphates or bleach, and concentrated formulas to reduce waste in both packaging and transport. As well as GECA certification, these products are also certified by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and EcoLogo, the Canadian Government’s environmental standards and certification organisation.

The Museum has also introduced new, more environmentally friendly cleaning equipment, including a floor-scrubbing machine that uses less water and chemicals than previous machines for the scrubbing of hard floor surfaces. The new machine saves approximately 13,500 litres of water and 130 litres of chemicals each year.

Greenfleet

The Museum continued its membership of this non-profit organisation that plants trees in forests to offset carbon emissions from its vehicle fleet.