BSBSUS211 Participate in sustainable work practices
In this unit you will learn to;
Measure sustainable work practices
support sustainable work practices
seek opportunities to improve sustainable work practices
While the natural environment provides us with resources, it is [sadly] also a dumping ground for waste and resources that we no longer require. Our use and misuse of the world’s resources has a negative impact on the health of the natural environment and our own quality of life. So sustainable work practices mean that economic development must be ecologically viable now and into the future; taking care to lesson our impact on the environment.
What is a Carbon Footprint?
A carbon footprint is the direct effect our actions and lifestyle have on the environment in terms of carbon dioxide emissions. The biggest contributors to carbon footprint today are travel needs, and electricity demands. However, in some way, all our actions have a direct or indirect impact. This includes (but not limited to):
the food we eat
the clothes we wear
the way we entertain ourselves
the way in which we move from place to place (cars, buses, aeroplanes)
All of these things need to be manufactured or produced in some way. Machinery requires energy, cars, buses and airplanes burn fuel, and in our homes and offices we use a significant portion of electricity that generally comes from fossil fuel burning power plants. All these actions contribute to accelerating global warming and climate change – leaving behind a ‘carbon footprint’. Many businesses are now looking closely at their work practices and the resources they use in terms of reducing their carbon footprint.
What are greenhouse gas emissions?
Greenhouse gases are gases in Earth’s atmosphere that trap heat. They let sunlight pass through the atmosphere, but they prevent the heat that the sunlight brings from leaving the atmosphere. The main greenhouse gasesare: Water vapour and carbon dioxide.
Human activities are responsible for almost all of the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere over the last 150 years.1 The largest source of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities is from;
transportation; this generates the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions and primarily comes from burning fossil fuels for cars, trucks, ships, trains and planes.
electricity production; this generates the second largets share of greenhouse gas emissions from, again, burning fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas
industries; that burn fossil fuels or from certain chemical reactions necessary to produce goods from raw materials.
commercial and residential; from homes and businesses using fossil fuels burned for heat, the use of certain products that contain greenhouse gases and the handling of waste
agriculture; greenhouse gas emissions from this sector come mainly from livestock such as cows, or agricultural soils and from rice production
There are a number of government initiatives at a national and global level directed at making improvements in the way we work; helping us think about the way we use energy, the products and services we use – and in turn produce, the way we produce them and, in general, assist in setting up what are known as ‘green’ offices. Some of these initiatives are, and can be found at:
Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources – This Department manages and delivers policies and programs that help Australia respond to climate change. They develop and administer our government’s domestic actions in order to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and meet our obligations under the Paris Agreement.
Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment – The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act) is the Australian Government’s central piece of environmental legislation. It provides a legal framework to protect and manage nationally and internationally important flora, fauna, ecological communities and heritage places — defined in the Act as matters of national environmental significance. The Department offers some excellent information on their website/s. See:
The Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement – “At the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was adopted with the aim of stabilising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a sustainable level and thereby counteracting serious consequences. It entered into force in 1994.The signatory states meet at regular intervals at the so-called COPs (Conference of the Parties) to agree on further action in climate protection. In 1997, this meeting was held in Kyoto in Japan, during which the “Kyoto Protocol“, the first document with legally binding obligations for limits and reductions, was adopted by the ratified countries. The period of applicability was set for the years 2008 to 2012 (1. obligation period) and 2013 to 2020 (2. obligation period). In order to be able to maintain the international climate protection process, after the initial agreement period was over (2020), a new climate agreement was required. This was adopted in 2015 at the COP in Paris as the “Paris Agreement“, which, for the first time, included a specific target for limiting global warming to well below 2°C above the pre-industrial levels of 1750. The ratified countries set their own reduction targets, whereby a review and strengthening of the climate protection efforts was to take place every 5 years. In October 2016, the required number of at least 55 ratified countries, which are responsible for at least 55 % of the globalgreenhouse gas emissions, was reached, which meant the agreement could enter into force. “
International Standards Organisation – The International Organisation of Standardisation, (ISO) is a worldwide organization that develops many different kinds of Standards. ISO 14000 is a series of documents that relate to the implementation of an Environmental Management System (EMS). Within this series, ISO 14001 is the document which defines the requirements for the EMS and provides guidance for its use. An EMS gives an organisation a systematic approach for managing their environmental impact; the consequences of their business operations.
Establishing an environmentally friendly and sustainable workplace begins with looking at the way in which your organisation operates; determining if resources are used to their best advantage and that there is no unnecessary (and costly) waste.
Many organisations will have workplace procedures that they have been following for many years. They may also have used the same resources, purchased from the same supplier, with the general attitude being that “it has always worked … why change?”
Developing a sustainable workplace, however, is about more than just being more “environmentally friendly”. There are sound business reasons for changing to more sustainable practices; practices that will save time, energy and money.
When exploring how best to integrate sustainability into the work place it is necessary to look at current practices, and the resources you use, and determine if:
they are being used as effectively as possible. For example; are you using them in accordance with the manufacturer or organisational instructions? Incorrect use of resources can cause damage or injury, and waste resources
you are using the best resource for each particular job;
are there ‘green’ products that could do the job?
are there alternative methods of completing the task?
could you do without that resource altogether?
you are not wasting the resource needlessly; are you re-using and recycling resources wherever possible?
your purchasing procedures for resources reflect an environmentally sustainable strategy.
they present hazards to people or the environment. Working with chemicals or toxic substances, bad lighting or bad ventilation are all areas of concern, and if they exist in a given workplace, should be reviewed with alternative products and means in mind.