Key messages

  • Victorian public healthcare services are subject to state and Commonwealth regulatory environmental programs.
  • They are required to publicly report on their environmental performance.
  • The Commonwealth National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act 2007 provides a national framework for the reporting and dissemination of information about greenhouse gas emissions and energy production and consumption.
  • An integral part of embedding sustainability within the public health system is ensuring that health services have appropriate environmental management planning processes.

Victorian public healthcare services are subject to state and Commonwealth regulatory environmental programs: the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Scheme and the National Pollutant Inventory. These program require services to have appropriate environmental management planning processes, and to publicly report on their environmental performance. 

National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting 

The Commonwealth National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act 2007 (NGER Act) provides a national framework for reporting and disseminating information about greenhouse gas emissions, and energy production and consumption.

The program applies to large energy users and greenhouse gas emitters - corporations using more than 200,000 gigajoules of energy or emitting more than 50,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, or facilities using more than 100,000 gigajoules of energy or emitting more than 25,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.

A number of Victoria’s large public health services and hospitals currently trigger the NGER Act and reporting thresholds.

National Pollutant Inventory

The department has requirements for environmental management planning and public environmental reporting. Visit the Environment Protection Authority website for more information.

Requirements of the 2015-16 policy and funding guidelines

Victorian health services are required under the Department of Health & Human Services policy and funding guidelines to develop a whole-of-organisation environmental management plan focusing on energy, carbon, water and waste for the organisation’s main campuses.

The plan must include a clear direction for expanding to all major sites and environmental impacts, including procurement, within two years from producing the first plan.

Victorian health services are required to publicly report on their environmental performance - energy, water, waste and carbon - in accordance with the department’s Environmental reporting guidelines 2015-16.

The policy and funding guidelines set out the required timeframes for preparing an environmental management plan and reporting publicly on environmental performance.

Environmental management planning

Environmental management planning  refers to the management of an organisation’s environmental impacts, and their minimisation, in a comprehensive, systematic, planned and documented manner.

Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle

A Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle is recommended for environmental management planning. This includes, for example, establishing an environmental committee, understanding your environmental impacts, developing an environmental policy and preparing and implementing an environmental management plan.

The process should also include reviewing and measuring the plan and its outcomes, as well as being transparent on environmental performance through public reporting.

What is an environmental management plan?

An environmental management plan provides a framework that links policy, systems, reporting and responsibilities within an organisation’s overall management structure and functional responsibilities. An effective environmental management plan should contain:

  • an overarching environment policy
  • a statement of executive commitment
  • baseline performance, including environmental data and achievements to date
  • an action plan of planned initiatives
  • an internal and external communications plan
  • monitoring and review processes.

The plan is not intended to duplicate existing plans. For example, if a health service is required to develop an environmental resource efficiency plan then this plan can form the waste and water components of the environmental management plan.

The department does not expect health services to have an accredited environmental management systems plan under ISO14001 on environmental management systems.

Preparation of an environmental management plan

The Environmental management plan (EMP) template contains instructions on how to complete the plan.

It is suggested that as many stakeholders as practicable be consulted in the development of an environmental management plan. It is recommended that the plan be supported by a committee and approved by the chief executive officer and or board chair.

The plan should be a 'live' document and reviewed and updated on a regular basis. It is recommended that the outcomes of the plan be reported to the health service executive on at least an annual basis.

Public environmental reporting

Public environmental reporting refers to public disclosure of an organisation’s environmental performance, for example, the consumption of energy and water. Through being transparent about environmental performance, public environmental reporting can encourage improvements in environmental management practices.

Environmental reporting typically involves:

  • determination of environmental issues to be reported
  • determination of reporting boundaries and materiality relating to environmental impacts
  • determination of reporting metrics and normalising factors to assess performance over time
  • collection of data related to impacts, reporting metrics and normalising factors
  • reporting on performance.

The guidance on public environmental reporting has been prepared to assist health services meet the environmental reporting requirements of the 2015-16 policy and funding guidelines.

Reporting by health services

The Environmental reporting guidelines provide direction to the Victorian public healthcare services on how environmental performance should be reported.

The guidelines set out both mandatory and voluntary reporting requirements, as well as providing principles and standards that should be used when collecting and reporting environmental performance data.

The Energy Data Management System, once fully operational, will generate an environmental performance report in accordance with the Environmental reporting guidelines.

Contact details

  • Sustainability Unit, Victorian Health and Human Services Building Authority

    Department of Health & Human Services

    For advice and support about environmental sustainability in healthcare provision.