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Tuesday, 13 May 2008
Page: 1632


Senator Allison asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts, upon notice, on 12 February 2008:

With reference to the Sustainable Cities program, negotiated by the Australian Democrats with the Howard Government as part of the Measures for a Better Environment package in the 2003-04 Budget:

(1)   In regard to the built environment, what progress has been made towards: (a) promoting sustainability of the built environment; and (b) developing a comparative study of building standards and codes, model building specifications and best practice material and guidelines for green buildings, beyond the National Australian Built Environment Rating System.

(2)   In regard to the enhancement of environment education in schools: (a) what progress has been made towards assisting primary and secondary school students to understand how to improve the efficiency of resource use and integrating this into the day-to-day running of schools; (b) how many environment management systems have been put in place for demonstration schools; (c) of these demonstration schools, which are in low socioeconomic areas; and (d) to date, what has been the cost of this program.

(3)   In regard to the green car rating scheme: (a) what evidence is there that the Green Vehicle Guide (GVG) has influenced vehicle purchasing decisions; (b) will the Government consider making it mandatory to publish GVG ratings on advertising and marketing material for new car sales; if not, why not; and (c) will the Government consider introducing mandatory energy efficiency standards for imported and locally manufactured vehicles; if not, why not.


Senator Wong (Minister for Climate Change and Water) —The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:

(1)   During 2006, the Australian Greenhouse Office (AGO) undertook two major scoping studies on materials and water in the context of sustainability in the Building Code of Australia. In 2007 the AGO funded joint studies with the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) on rating tools and residential hot water. On 6 February 2008, I wrote to the ABCB (and the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research and the Minister for Climate Change and Water) proposing a new MOU on improving sustainability in the built environment. Future work to improve building environmental standards will be managed under the proposed MOU. Promoting sustainability of the built environment has been progressed through the development of best practice guide materials and associated seminars, workshops and related promotional activities. The Your Building website www.yourbuilding.org, a guide to environmentally sustainable commercial buildings, was launched in 2007. Work on the Your Development website www.yourdevelopment.org , a guide to creating sustainable neighbourhoods, has commenced and is expected to be completed in the second half of 2008.

(2)  

(a)   The Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative (AuSSI) is an initiative of the States and Territories co-ordinated and supported nationally by the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA). It is currently operating in approximately 2500 schools nationally. AuSSI provides practical assistance to schools to achieve measurable improvements in their use of resources, grounds and facilities and to equip the whole school community with the attitudes, values, behaviours and capacity to meaningfully engage with complex issues such as sustainability. The initiative operates in both primary and secondary schools. In 2005, DEWHA published the first ever National Environmental Education Statement for Australian Schools. The Statement provides a nationally agreed description of the nature and purpose of environmental education in schools and calls for the implementation of a whole of school approach. It was released with the endorsement of the Ministerial Council for Education Employment Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA). AuSSI seeks to provide practical support for the implementation of the Statement.

(b)   A key element of the AuSSI is the development of a School Environmental Management Plan (SEMP) or equivalent. A SEMP would typically include actions for improved management of school resources linked to school curricula to ensure its integration in teaching and learning. All participating AuSSI schools are encouraged to go through the process of developing and implementing a SEMP.

(c)   Support for AuSSI in each State and Territory has required the participation of schools in low-socioeconomic areas. However, information on which schools are in such areas has not recently been collected.

(d)   $2.2 million has been invested in the AuSSI over the period 2002-03 to 2006-07.

(3)  

(a)   Vehicle purchasing behaviour is influenced by a wide range of factors and it is impossible to isolate any impact that may be due to the introduction of the Green Vehicle Guide. Nevertheless, usage and awareness of the Guide is increasing, with over 600,000 site visits since its launch in mid 2004. The Guide’s ratings are also widely used by the motoring press and are increasingly being adopted by organisations as the basis for setting environmental targets for their fleet purchases.

(b)   & (c) The Australian Transport Council and the Environment Protection and Heritage Council have been tasked with developing a range of potential measures to improve the fuel efficiency of Australia’s vehicle fleet. This process will consider a broad sweep of measures, including both regulatory and non-regulatory options.