Sustainability case-studies: government agencies

Find out what our agencies have achieved by complying with the Government Resource Efficiency Policy.

The Government Resource Efficiency Policy (GREP) sets out targets for NSW general government sector agencies to reduce energy and water use, harmful air emissions and waste.

Each financial year, agencies report on their progress towards achieving their GREP targets. There are 13 measures in the policy and agencies have shared their good news stories on what they have done to comply with each measure.

Modern corridor with energy efficient lightingThe Children’s Hospital at Westmead has a strong commitment to energy efficiency.

Projects implemented for energy savings this year include:

  • replacing lighting with more efficient methods in 10 wards, such as changing from 50-watt to 10-watt globes for 550 patient lamps
  • adding dimmer controls
  • replacing 200 36-watt T8 lights in corridors with 20-watt LED alternatives.

Variable speed drives installed in cooling towers are delivering energy and water efficiencies.

Six hospital lifts that were due for replacement were upgraded to more efficient models that use approximately 30% less energy.

The Network has been unable to estimate annual bill savings achieved by the above projects; however, it is working towards including this information in future reports.

The Department of Industry is showing great commitment to reducing its carbon footprint, and reducing and improving management of waste.

Offices at the MLC building in Sydney have now gained a 4-star NABERS rating after refurbishments were done during the year. Lighting controls were installed on all 3 floors (levels 43, 48 and 49) to allow lights to be switched off when enough natural light is available, reducing consumption levels across the tenancy. Upgrade fit-outs required all lights that are next to external windows to be on a separate switch to encourage use of natural light.

Open plan agile working environments also brought more open flow work stations and further reduced the need for artificial light.

Due to Machinery of Government (MOG) changes in 2016, Department of Industry vacated levels 5 and 11 at 323 Castlereagh St, Sydney, moved to levels 6, 9 and 16 and kept level 7. For most of the year, we managed 3393m2 of space, which will rise significantly in 2017–18.

The Managed Print Service that was rolled out during the year produced savings of $51,670 which equates to 10,334 reams of paper saved on printing and paper use.

We are working on regional and metropolitan office accommodation strategies to deliver new 5 star NABERS ratings and 4.5-star water rated buildings by 2021.

Since 2015 the Department of Industry has decommissioned 90% of data centres across their main sites. This will bring significant savings, which we can use to buy more standardised, energy efficient equipment and decommission the large data centres.


Back of computer screen showing energy efficiency ratingAll staff have been instructed that electrical equipment purchased by the organisation must be recognised as high energy efficiency. Under a utilities policy introduced in June 2016, new electrical items must comply with the Government Resources Efficiency Policy.

Staff induction presentations, including an overview of the minimum standards for new electrical appliances, were delivered in October 2016 and May 2017.

When the Australian Museum’s colourful glass and steel Crystal Hall opened in 2015, it was called an innovative and elegant space. The simple Neeson Murcutt and Joseph Grech design was commended for sustainability in design and operation.

Exterior of The Australian Museum showing Crystal Hall entranceThe Crystal Hall was built to exceed minimum building standards.

Sustainability features include:

  • a 12.5KW solar PV system on the roof
  • a double glaze façade that allows in sunlight but reflects infrared heat. An internal screen of diamond blades can be moved to increase shading throughout the year
  • a chilled heated floor that allows the hall to operate in a naturally ventilated mode for the majority of the year.

In 2016 Crystal Hall received the Public Architecture Award at the NSW Architecture Awards and was recognised in the Association of Consulting Structural Engineers (ACSE) annual awards.

Solar air conditioning for a small building was built by TAFE NSW studentsSydney Institute of TAFE currently has 140kW of solar panels installed across its built assets and these are complemented by urban wind generators at the Ultimo and Gymea sites.

During 2016-17, Sydney Institute of TAFE installed a 40kW photovoltaic (solar) system on Building B at Randwick Institute of TAFE. This is estimated to save 60,920 kWh per annum ($7825), in a simple payback of 5.49 years based on modelled data provided by the supplier.

In 2017 the TAFE NSW Associate Degree in Renewable Energy students designed and built a stand-alone, solar air-conditioning system as a technology demonstrator at Ultimo TAFE. The cutting-edge project was funded by a $20,000 Air Conditioning Refrigeration & Building Services (ARBS) Education and Research Foundation grant using equipment donated by industry partners.

The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) is the lead combat agency for bush fires in New South Wales. For over 100 years, we have been a significant part of history and the landscape.

Working closely with other agencies, we respond to a range of emergencies including structure fires, motor vehicle accidents and storms within rural fire districts. As well as saving lives and property, RFS has a strong commitment to sustainability and environmental protection.

Rural Fire Service petrol/electric powered carDuring the year, the RFS Executive endorsed an initiative to replace all its older vehicles – which historically have been large petrol-powered vehicles and old-technology diesel models – with new, fuel efficient, cleaner vehicles.

The fleet now consists of four-cylinder diesel powered vehicles maintained to best-practice manufacturers’ recommendations. Where a fuel-efficient diesel vehicle was not available, a four-cylinder petrol powered vehicle was added.

RFS also maintains a hybrid fleet, which currently stands at three petrol/electric powered Camry vehicles.


The NSW State Emergency Service (SES) State Headquarters' and NSW State Warehouse electricity is now 6% GreenPower.

The new State Headquarters in Wollongong was unoccupied in the reportable period; however, the GreenPower electricity supply has been confirmed.

 State Emergency Services Headquarters

The NSW State Emergency Service also occupies 234 council owned premises across the State. In the last reportable period, 121 sites rolled on to Whole of Government Contract 776 for the supply of electricity and GreenPower.

Further sites will roll on to Contract 776, as meters are transferred from councils to NSW SES. The intention is to purchase 6% GreenPower at all eligible sites once the transfer of meters is complete.

Sydney Olympic Park has a locally integrated approach to water conservation based on wastewater reprocessing, stormwater harvesting and reducing water demand.

Many actions, from water recycling to planting native species, have significantly reduced water use.

Building at Sydney Olympic Park with water tank and water-wise landscapingThe Water Reclamation and Management Scheme (WRAMS) produces recycled water from sewage and stormwater. This is used for irrigation, ornamental fountains and toilet flushing across all the Park’s sports and entertainment venues, office buildings and apartments, as well as homes in the adjacent suburb of Newington and Newington Public School.

Separate metering enables monitoring of water consumption of individual components (such as fountains) within the public domain, with leaks identified or operating regimes adjusted. Stormwater from buildings and roads in the northern catchments of the Newington town centre is harvested into water storage ponds and used to irrigate park areas, landscapes and sports fields, and also feeds into the WRAMS water recycling system.

Potable water is typically only used for kitchens, showers and hand basins, in swimming pools and on artificial turf hockey playing fields.

Water demand for landscaping is minimised through water-wise landscaping practices and irrigation at night when evaporation is low. However, most landscape plantings are native species that do not require irrigation once established.

Front of Property NSW office buildingProperty NSW continues to implement energy and water efficiency programs across its office portfolio. The weighted average NABERS water rating for owned offices above 1000m2 is 3.87 stars (FY16/17 reporting period). Water ratings for individual buildings are shown in the response to Government Resources Efficiency Policy (GREP) Target E2.

Property NSW implemented water data logging and platform services at 20 owned properties to manage leaks and improve efficiency.

Fit outs, refurbishments and ongoing maintenance comply with GREP Target W3 (Minimum standards for new water-using appliances). Property NSW has implemented guidance notes for all government agencies, including one for ‘water using appliances ‘with GREP targets and Property NSW recommended targets.

Property NSW requires a Green Lease Schedule to be included in all new and renewed leases which are for two years or more and when the government occupies at least 2000m2 Net Lettable Area (NLA). A minimum 4-star NABERS water rating is negotiated within these Green Lease Schedules, where cost effective and acceptable to the owner.

NABERS water ratings for larger leased buildings with Green Leases are outlined in the response to GREP Target E2. Property NSW routinely tracks water efficiency and NABERS rating performance and works with building owners and government agencies to achieve and maintain NABERS water rating targets.

School student drinking from a bubblerUnder the Educational Facilities Standards and Guidelines, the department must meet the minimum Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme star ratings for new water-using appliances and equipment, where possible.

The department’s Procurement Solutions Directorate’s online catalogue contains a special marker within the list of products indicating which products comply with the Government Resource Efficiency Policy requirements for water efficiency.

The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (the Department) has over 400 sites across the state of New South Wales, and each site manages its own waste contract. As a result, obtaining reliable waste data is a significant challenge for the organisation.

People sorting recyclable wasteIn the first year of Government Resource Efficiency Policy reporting (2014/2015), we were unable able to source adequate data to report on our top three waste streams (general waste, commingled and paper/cardboard). We have undertaken a number of initiatives to improve our ability to report on our waste volume and spend, including a waste survey and conducting Bin Trim assessments.

In 2018 agencies participated in a pilot of the NABERS waste tool which has substantially improved data collection activities for government waste.

In 2019 the Government Resource Efficiency Policy was updated to ensure waste streams were reported by weight and cost (instead of volume and cost). This change will provide greater transparency on waste use and spend and will be administratively easier. Agencies are also encouraged to create waste reduction plans and set waste reduction targets.

View of Harbour Lights installations on marine vessels moving across Sydney Harbour during Vivid Sydney 2018.Vivid Sydney is one of Australia’s biggest and most popular festivals, bringing thousands of visitors and locals to the city and suburbs each year.

The agency secures GreenPower accreditation for the Vivid Light Walk and oversees purchase of high-quality, accredited carbon offsets to reduce the impact of a range of key event elements that cannot be offset through the purchase of GreenPower.

For the 2017 festival event, these included:

  • emissions from mobile combustion generators (diesel)
  • airline travel for all headline artists directly engaged by Destination NSW
  • measured waste outputs across the festival footprint.

Destination NSW is keen to confirm its commitment to running Vivid as a responsible and environmentally sustainable festival. Actions taken now will ensure this event continues to develop and grow into the future.

Open plan office allowing maximum use of natural lightFit-outs for the refurbishment of the Roads and Maritime offices at Parramatta and Wagga Wagga were completed in 2017. The fit-outs were managed by Transport Shared Services on behalf of Roads and Maritime.

The design specifications included several environmental sustainability performance requirements, including the Government Resource Efficiency Policy requirement to use low-VOC surface coatings.