Set and achieve environment and climate goals at the BMLRT using EMAS

Sektionschef Mang und die Gutachter Herr Schleich und Frau Berg
Photo: BMLRT / Karin Hiller

The whole world is facing big challenges in environmental and climate protection. Austria, too, is genuinely experiencing the impacts of climate Change.

Austria, too, is already affected by the impacts of climate change. The rising numbers of heat days and extreme weather events send a clear signal. Committed action in the near future will decide on whether or not we can achieve the climate goals of Paris and will manage to curb the man-made greenhouse effect to a ‘bearable‘ level. With the Austrian Climate and Energy Strategy, #mission2030, we have a schedule for the exit from the age of fossil fuels. We aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 36 percent and to produce 100 percent of the electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

We are committed to set an example in modern administrative organisation in our own domain, too. Since the year 2000 we have been an EMAS organisation and meanwhile also our new departments and locations participate in the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme. Every year we search and find opportunities for improvement. Here, too, we want to act as a model - for other public agencies and EMAS organisations. To do so, we use our precious resources as environmentally friendly and sparingly as possible.

EU-wide pioneer  

The external expert Lennart Schleicher, who conducted the annual audit in June 2019, first validated the nine BMLRT locations and confirms that our environmental management system is well functioning.  

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Regions and Tourism combines the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) and effect-oriented administration in an exemplary way.

On the one hand, we record and analyse resource consumption and its impacts on the environment (direct environmental impacts like emissions from energy consumption and mobility, water, paper, waste management). On the other hand, we also set systematically chosen objectives in all relevant subject-matter responsibilities of the BMLRT that contribute to the enhancement of the environmental performance and are therefore defined as EMAS objectives. The Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Regions and Tourism thereby systematically links EMAS with the process of effect-oriented administration – both of them are management systems – and has received much praise and appreciation for this approach.

Suitable measures and responsibilities are formulated in the environmental programme and are regularly reviewed to see whether the objectives were achieved.

Higher resource efficiency, the development of renewable energy sources and the promotion of e-mobility are important issues for the future which we implemented effectively during the past year. We take strict care to make only the most important business trips and, for our electricity and heat requirements, count on certified Eco-label electricity and district heat.

The record of success

a) Resource saving is given priority at the BMLRT:

Energy: The BMLRT has been assigned additional tasks and now has 300 staff members more than last year. Energy consumption as a whole has increased, but it declined per staff member.

Under the "Climate Austria" programme initiated by the BMLRT, CO2 emissions generated in the course of business trips of members of the central body have, since 2008, every year been compensated by suitable Austrian klimaaktiv-mobil projects.

Due to Austria‘s EU presidency in 2018 considerably more business trips were indispensible than in the years before. We relied to a greater extent on video and telephone conferences. In this way 100 business trips were avoided in 2018, one third more than in the previous year. This action helped save 312 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

The BMLRT is the first and only Ministry implementing a corporate mobility management since 1997 and is thus a pioneer. According to surveys on the modal split of 2005 and 2012 the mobility behaviour of the staff is already environmentally friendly and exemplary: More than 81% of the colleagues use climate-friendly public means of transportation to go to work; 12 % go to work by bike. In the future also the schools of the BMLRT will be part of the klimaaktiv mobility management. 

The BMLRT wants to be a pioneer also in the field of electromobility. Charging stations for electric cars and bicycles are provided at the Stubenring 1 location.

The EMAS priority theme for 2019 and 2020 is “Sustainable food and nutrition“.
Food and responsible shopping have great potential - food is precious. Put in a nutshell, this means “regionally, seasonally, organic, reusable“ and buying sparingly packed foods, in particular avoiding plastic packaging. In the next two years we want to offer some lectures and workshops to sensitise our colleagues (even more) for these aspects.

b) Other measures:

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Regions and Tourism is a forerunner in public provision with a high share of eco-labelled products, like electricity, paper, office supplies, and with particularly energy-efficient ICT equipment.

The waste separation system is exemplary, which is, also in 2018, reflected in continuously declining waste volumes and disposal costs. Per day, our staff members generate 350 grams of waste on average per capita.

In our in-house mobile phone recycling project, our partners from the mobile industry and the waste management sector collect, check and, where possible, repair old telephones. About 40 percent of the phones can be repaired in this way. The remaining ones are disposed of properly, so prescious materials like silver, gold, palladium, copper, and cobalt can be returned to the material cycle. So far, 1024 mobile phones have been collected.

The central printing service (in-house print shop) of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Regions and Tourism is certified according to the Austrian Eco-label and PEFC-certified. The provision of regional, seasonal and organic food is fostered through the consistent organisation of green meetings und events and through the Eco-label certification of the canteen at the Stubenbastei location.

This is what EMAS stands for

EMAS (Eco-Management and Audit Scheme) stands for a continuous, direct or indirect improvement of an organisation‘s environmental performance.

Every day the BMLRT’s staff work dedicatedly in the legislation process and in administration, develop and implement future-oriented programmes to find innovative solutions for man and the environment and thereby to ensure the protection of our bases of life also in the future.

Of course we are also taking great efforts at our Ministry to ensure environmentally sound, energy-efficient and sparing resource use in day-to-day operation of the “enterprise“ BMLRT. Year after year we manage to accomplish improvements in our environmental performance – see the above article on our “Record of success“. The decision to apply EMAS is therefore a clear pledge to a future-oriented instrument which enables us to stay a model and a pioneer in the EU. With an effective mix of measures we will contribute to the systematic development of preventive environmental and climate protection at the BMLRT – for now and for the benefit of future generations.