CSIRO has established an aggressive 20 per cent carbon emission reduction target, measured against business as usual projections and to achieved by the end of June 2020.

Under the strategy, CSIRO’s carbon emissions will fall from a projected business as usual level of 282 kilotonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (ktCO2e) (Scope 1, 2 and 3) to approximately 227 ktCO2e by 2020, an emission target below 1999–2000 levels.

CSIRO will achieve the carbon reduction targets through six key focus areas:

  • Sustainable buildings
  • Sustainable laboratories
  • Travel and transport
  • Low emission energy technologies
  • Sustainable procurement
  • Site consolidation.

Building energy efficiency

The Building Energy Efficiency and Low Emission Energy technology programs have positively impacted the Organisation’s carbon targets.

  • The Solar Photovoltaic System (solar panels) installation at the Pawsey Centre and ARRC in Kensington, WA, will produce a combined average of 390 MWh electricity per year and savings of approx. 296 tCO2e per year.
  • Re-commissioning projects at the Waterford and Black Mountain sites are nearing completion and are expected to reduce CSIRO’s carbon footprint by approximately 300 tCO2e.
  • Phase 1 of a lighting upgrade to energy-efficient LEDs at the Clayton site focused on corridors, stairways, exits and balconies. Substantial savings are expected from this upgrade, including $22,000 annual financial savings and 147 tCO2e savings.
  • Detailed Energy Efficiency Studies were completed at Clayton, Waite and Kensington to identify energy opportunities equivalent to 2 ktCO2e savings or more. Implementation of agreed recommendations will commence in 2015–16.

Due to an ever-present and increasing need for high quality environmental performance data, CSIRO has developed an organisation-wide Submetering Strategy that outlines the purpose, principles and approach to submetering across CSIRO sites. The strategy will be supported by a submetering system solution currently in development.

CSIRO has established an aggressive 20% carbon emission reduction target, to be achieved by end of June 2020.

Waste and recycling

Improved oversight of waste and recycling practices across our national sites under the CSIRO National Waste and Recycling Services Contract highlights the benefits of a nationally coordinated approach to waste and recycling, with the added bonus of a national dataset. We continue to actively manage 23 recycling streams.

CSIRO diverted 10,521 cubic metres waste from landfill, equating to 994 tCO2e saved in the period May 2014 to April 2015. The organisation currently remains at an approximate 40 per cent diversion rate. The likelihood of reaching the target of 50 per cent diversion from landfill by December 2015 has been reduced due to two large site consolidations. These increased the use of large landfill bulk bins and generated major collections from site closures and clean-ups. Significant efforts are made to recycle as much demolition waste as possible. Despite these efforts, large quantities go to landfill. Furthermore, anticipated access to a new downstream recycling facility in NSW will not occur, placing additional pressure on achieving the waste diversion target.


Change management is key to achieving a cultural shift necessary for staff to incorporate environmental sustainability in their day-to-day decision-making. CSIRO’s commitment to environmental sustainability was increased to build staff accountability regarding energy, carbon and recycling programs.

The Fume Cupboard program, ‘Shut the Sash’, which aims 90 per cent of fume cupboards to be closed when unattended, was rolled out across our top 12 energy sites, impacting about 3,000 lab staff. The program aims to reduce energy consumption and costs, while increasing lab safety. Furthermore, it has the potential to reduce emissions by up to 4 ktCO2e across the organisation, by reducing energy consumption associated with fume cupboard motors and discharge of conditioned laboratory air. Comparisons to pre-program baseline data will be conducted in August 2015 to determine if targets have been met. CSIRO has produced a laboratory-based training video involving research staff to highlight the benefits of ‘Shutting the Sash’ on both the environment and safety. The video will be incorporated in staff induction for all relevant laboratory staff.

In addition to focussed projects such as ‘Shut the Sash’, CSIRO’s change management approach to increase staff buy-in and accountability during 2014–15 was underpinned by a variety of marketing campaigns. The Earth Hour ‘Bright Sparks’ campaign motivated staff to switch off non-essential lighting at the end of every day and staff generated behaviour change ideas, driven by a washroom poster competition, which included turning off electronic equipment at wall sockets, paper and cardboard recycling processes, mixed recycling, organic and batteries. We launched organics recycling at the Marsfield site, and highlighted energy reduction building innovations through online discussion forums, news stories and regular intranet weekly promotions.

CSIRO’s commitment to environmental sustainability was increased to build staff accountability regarding energy, carbon and recycling programs.

Environmental management and heritage

CSIRO recognises its responsibility to protect and conserve the Commonwealth and national heritage values of the places it owns or controls, using suitable advice consistent with best practice in conservation and property management and its obligations under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

CSIRO will comply with Commonwealth Heritage Management Principles to identify, protect, conserve, present and transmit the heritage values of the places it owns or controls to all generations.

The CSIRO Land and Building Heritage Register, which includes information on any known land or buildings with heritage significance, will be available on the csiro.au web site in late 2015.

Environmental performance

Energy consumption remained steady compared with 2013–14 (see Figure 3.4), an increase of one and a half percent in electricity consumption being offset by a four percent reduction in gas consumption. Noting that electricity consumption decreased across 22 sites during 2014–15, significant increases occurred at:

  • the Pawsey Centre (Kensington, WA) due to the progressive rise in supercomputer processing power required to support projects such as ASKAP1
  • New Horizons (Clayton, VIC), where CSIRO is a new tenant
  • Tidbinbilla (ACT) due to the installation of a new radioantenna
  • Hobart, due to the arrival of the RV Investigator
  • Newcastle, due to refurbishment of the onsite co-generation plant.

Site consolidation activities in Canberra saw an eight percent decrease in electricity consumption at our Black Mountain site, attributed to building demolition or closure and the temporary relocation of some staff to our Crace site. Although Crace electricity consumption rose during the year, the site consolidation activities resulted in approximately one ktCO2e emission savings (Scope 1 and 2) during 2014–15.

Despite the slight increase in electricity consumption, the four per cent fall in gas consumption enabled CSIRO to maintain its Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions at 122 ktCO2e attributed to electricity and gas consumption over the past year. Energy consumption has reduced approximately four percent over the past five years, while our emissions have decreased by eight per cent over the same period. Focussed efforts to improve building energy efficiency and engagement with staff through CSIRO’s Carbon Strategy, along with site closures, have contributed to the emission reduction.

Our water consumption decreased by seven per cent compared with the previous year, a decrease of 25 megalitres (ML). The most significant reduction occurred due to the closure of our Belmont site (18 ML), with staff relocating to Deakin University. Large reductions also occurred at our Waterford and Floreat sites.

CSIRO's environmental performance in energy (electricity and gas)  consumption in terajoules, greenhouse gas emissions in kilotonnes CO2e, and water consumption in megalitres from 2010 to 2014.

Table 1. Summary of Figure 3.4: from CSIRO's 2014-15 annual report.
Greenhouse Gasses
(kilotonnes CO2e)
2010-11 687 133 392
2011-12  670 128 366
2012-13  687 129 372
2013-14  658 122 374
2014-15  657 122 340

Figure 3.4: CSIRO energy and greenhouse gas emissions (electricity and gas only) and water consumption.

Under our Carbon Strategy, we have set the target of three per cent reduction in air kilometres travelled per annum. In 2014–15, we achieved a reduction in air travel of approximately 22 million air kilometres compared with 2013–14, a 19.5 per cent decrease (see Table 3.1). The reduction in travel has been driven by Federal and internal policy. The kilometres travelled per staff member (FTE) decreased by 10 per cent compared with the previous year, and an average of six percent over the last five years.

Table 3.1: CSIRO energy, air travel and water intensities [end caption]
Performance measure Indicator(s) 2010–11 2011–12 2012–13 2013–14 2014–15
Energy Purchased energy (electricity and gas) consumed per employee (GJ/FTE)2 119 117 119 121 136
Air travel Million air kilometres travelled 116 114 116 113 91
Air travel per employee (km/FTE) 20,069 19,930 20,214 20,853 18,874
Relative mains water use Amount of total water use per employee (kilolitres /FTE) 68 64 65 69 70
  1. Australian Square Kilometre Array Project.
  2. FTE refers to CSIRO Officers as of June 2015.

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