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Sustainable Business

The first step to creating a sustainable business is gaining understanding. This understanding may lead to improvements which don't require significant capital. From this base there are benefits to becoming certified and building the management of climate change impacts into you business planning.


The first step to reducing your carbon footprint is to measure and monitor your emissions using this calculator.  You will then know how many emissions your operation produces and where these emissions are coming from.  This will help you focus your efforts to reduce your carbon footprint.


The next step is to identify practical tips to reduce your emissions. Many of these actions will have significant benefits to your bottom line as well. The emissions calculator includes specific tips related to each type of asset as part of the questionnaire.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) has been working with tourism operators to provide background information and real-life examples of changes that can be made to practices within marine tourism operations.  These case studies cover the following topics:

Get Certified

Ecotourism Australia, in collaboration with the GBRMPA, has developed the Climate Action Certification Program.  It is designed for all sectors of the tourism industry and for aligned businesses both large and small.  GBR Marine Park operators adopting Climate Action Certification will receive practical assistance in equipping themselves for both the impacts of climate change and to reduce their own contribution to greenhouse gas production.


Build climate change into your business planning.  Adopt a risk management approach which clearly illustrates alternative product and marketing strategies in the event of severe coral bleaching or other climate change impacts.

The GBRMPA is working with tourism stakeholders to identify alternative technologies and operational activities, management practices and policies that may enable them to better cope with the anticipated impacts of climate change.

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Being aware of the way energy is used may sometimes provide ideas as to where it can be saved without large capital investments. The following are some common areas to consider.


  • Be air conditioner smart.  Each degree warmer on the AC saves you 5% in energy costs and will reduce your CO2 emissions.
  • Install energy saving compact fluorescent light globes in your office.
  • Install motion sensors in your office so that the lights turn off automatically when the room is not occupied.
  • Use office lighting efficiently.  Use task lighting instead of overhead lights.  Switch lights off when you are leaving the room.
  • Switch appliances off at the power point, instead of leaving them on "stand-by".
  • Activate 'sleep mode' on your office equipment and turn it off overnight.
  • Install clear panels or skylights in the roof to increase natural light.
  • Switch to green power through your electricity provider.  It is normally more expensive than a non-green power plan but reduces your footprint drastically.
  • Replace hot water heaters with solar or gas heaters.
  • Install solar panels on your roof.  You might even be able to feed power back into the grid and receive a cheque from the energy company at the end of the month!
  • Use shading, window tinting, curtains, tree screens and verandas to keep heat out of buildings.
  • Educate staff and clients on the benefits and cost savings of energy efficiency.


  • Accelerate your vehicle smoothly.  The smoother you can accelerate through the gears, the better fuel consumption you will get.  Accelerating hard and then braking is a fuel waster.
  • Maintain your vehicles.  Service and tune cars regularly.  Ensure that tyres are in good condition and kept at maximum pressure.
  • Purchase the most fuel efficient vehicles for the requirements.  The size of a vehicle can affect your running costs by up to 25%.
  • Clean out your car and boot.  Ferrying extra weight around adds to fuel consumption.
  • Consider conversion to lower emission fuels source such as LPG, Biodiesel and ethanol blends.
  • Reduce emissions by operating your vehicle at speeds which are most fuel efficient.


  • Drive your boat conservatively.  Abrupt starts, excessive speed and extended use of full throttle reduce fuel efficiency and increase emissions.
  • Ensure that your outboard engine is kept in good condition and is serviced according to the manufacturer's recommendations.
  • Properly match engine horsepower to the size of the vessel.
  • Use the right size propellor and keep it in good condition (nicks and dents reduce performance).
  • Reduce unnecessary engine idling.
  • Reduce weight.  Extra cargo in your boat reduces fuel efficiency.


  • Minimise staff travel by using modern communication technology, such as Skype, for long distance meetings.
  • Set up a car pool for your workplace or to attend meetings.
  • Minimise single-purpose trips.  Maximise efficiency/experience for tour miles travelled.
  • Provide secure bicycle parking, showers and lockers to encourage people to walk or cycle to work.
  • Provide your clients with options to offset greenhouse gas emissions caused by their travel and accommodation.

Waste Reduction and Recycling

  • Purchase from carbon conscious suppliers.
  • Reuse old office supplies to reduce garbage into the landfill.
  • Order supplies in bulk to minimize packaging waste.
  • 70% of office waste is paper.  Consider the environment before printing; print double-sided, and re-use paper as scrap paper before recycling it.  Recycling one tonne of paper or cardboard saves you money and 13 trees, 2.5 barrels of oil, 4100 KWh of electricity, 4 cubic metres of landfill and 31,780 litres of water.
  • Implement a recycling policy in your office.  Sample office recycling policy
  • When purchasing, choose suppliers who use minimal or recyclable packaging or who recover waste packaging as part of their service.
  • Use paper free marketing where possible.
  • Consider biodegradable alternatives to the traditional disposable plates and cutlery. There are biodegradable options made from corn and banana leaf.
  • Consider a change from buffet to a-la-carte menus.
  • Use food dispensers rather than individual wrapped servings.
  • Use dispensers for soap, shampoo and washing products where possible.
  • Bring your own mug to work and bring lunch rather than buying takeaway dishes.
  • Identify avenues for recycling or re-selling your unwanted or excess items including organic waste, other materials or products.
  • Consider composting food waste and other organic materials to keep it out of the landfill.  Find a staff person or local gardening club who will pick up the organic waste regularly.