Environmental management is a key component of Downer’s Zero Harm philosophy. Downer is committed to managing and minimising the impact of its activities on the natural and built environment. We place a strong emphasis on meeting and exceeding our environmental compliance obligations.
A core focus of Downer’s Urban Services strategy is to develop and maintain innovative solutions that contribute to a lower environmental footprint.
Together, these represent Downer’s keys to long-term success.
Our environment and sustainability performance commitments are outlined in our Environmental Sustainability Policy, our Zero Harm Management Framework and our 10 Environmental Principles. These principles are critical to ensuring our employees and broader stakeholder groups are engaged and aware of our environmental sustainability commitments.
Downer is also cognisant of our social licence to operate, through improving sustainability of our operations, achieving the goal of Zero Harm to the environment and our people, and avoiding legal liability and negative impact on our reputation, business value and ultimately shareholder wealth.
The effective management of our environmental impacts is fundamental to Downer's approach to the delivery of all services and is embedded in our overall risk management processes.
Downer’s environmental management system (accredited to AS/NZ ISO14001:2015) is integrated into our Group-wide management system, called The Downer Standard, which ensures a comprehensive, systematic and consistent approach to identifying and controlling environmental hazards and risks, and monitoring our environmental performance across the organisation. In addition, the
environment management system is audited, both internally and externally by independent third parties.
We place significant emphasis on both effective control through our Critical Risk program and continuous improvement through lessons learned to sustain the natural environment for future generations.
Each Business Unit has an Environmental Sustainability Plan (ESP) that details the necessary strategies and objectives and aligns to the Group Environment and Sustainability three-year strategy. The ESP allocates internal responsibilities for reducing the impact of our operations and business activities on the environment. Downer has a centralised network of professional environment and sustainability resources with extensive knowledge, expertise and experience across the different sectors in which we operate. This network provides an efficient support service to our operations to ensure our environmental obligations are being fulfilled.
Downer remains focused on developing solutions to reduce our energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, while increasing our cost competitiveness. We are also committed to developing strategies that will improve the resilience of our assets and portfolio to the impacts of climate change, progressing the circular economy and looking at innovative ways to reuse waste materials in our products. The development of the Reconophalt™ asphalt pavement product is an example of this focus in action, representing principles of the circular economy in incorporating recycled soft plastics into the asphalt product.
Downer committed to achieving the following environmental targets and objectives in FY20:
- This is Downer’s internal GHG emissions reduction target associated with efficiency initiatives and linked to Downer’s Short-Term Incentive program.
The performance information in this section includes Downer, its contractors and joint ventures in the following business lines: Australian Operations, Spotless and New Zealand including Hawkins. Joint ventures have been included for environmental energy and GHG emissions performance data where Downer is deemed to have operational control as defined by the National Greenhouse Energy Reporting Act. Further information on joint ventures is detailed in Downer’s 2020 Annual Report.
Downer’s environmental sustainability performance is measured against the key areas of risk management, compliance, minimising environmental impact and maximising resource efficiency opportunities in our own and our customers’ businesses. Significant progress was made this year in delivering on focus areas that were disclosed in Downer’s 2019 Sustainability Report. Downer’s key focus areas during the year were to:
- Continue to focus on the resilience and assurance of environmental risk controls
- Incorporate sustainability rating tools and initiatives into major projects
- Improve environmental workforce capability
- Engage with customers regarding Downer’s environmental capability
- Execute on plans to prepare the business for a transition to a low carbon economy, through the planned divestment of the capital intensive Mining and Laundries businesses.
In FY20, Downer carried out its plan to continue to improve and consolidate our sustainability reporting platform. This has facilitated the reporting of waste data for the first time in
FY20, and allowed us to collect data feeding into a preliminary estimate of water impacts across the organisation, including usage and impacts. This year represented the second year in Downer’s three-year GHG reduction program, and the progress against this is reported in the ‘Managing our GHG emissions’ section. Other areas Downer focused on in FY20 were to:
- Further utilise low-emissions technology across our fleet, plant and equipment to reduce fuel consumption, carbon and air emissions
- Further improve energy efficiency in our Rollingstock Services business, where Scope 2 emissions are proportionately high compared to the rest of the business, and energy efficiency opportunities are more abundant
- Develop The Downer Standard for land contamination – a company-wide procedure to ensure a consistent approach to identifying and assessing land contamination at sites we own or have acquired, leased or sub-leased
- Implement and rollout a suite of learning modules for operational staff on various environmental management and sustainability topics
- Further rollout Downer’s Environmental Awareness training to New Zealand and Spotless
- Develop technological solutions to manage environmental risk, such as web-based GIS platforms linked to artificial intelligence and machine learning for in-field applications
- Increase the number of Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISCA) Infrastructure Sustainability (IS) ratings for our infrastructure projects to improve our sustainability.
Managing our GHG emissions
As an integrated service provider, Downer operates within capital and carbon-intensive industries such as mining services, asphalt manufacturing and laundries. A key challenge for us is the effective management of our carbon related activities and implementing strategies to reduce our GHG emissions. We also have the opportunity to engage with our customers and supply chain to positively influence change that reduces their GHG emissions.