How to make a $165 billion project database sustainable

Sustainable infrastructure

The Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISCA) has outlined a plan for industry to take full advantage of the opportunities that Australia’s $165 billion project database poses for sustainable infrastructure.

In August, Infrastructure Australia launched its 2019 Audit, sparking a new national conversation and calling for long-term changes to the way governments plan, fund and deliver infrastructure.

In response, ISCA has released a submission which outlines innovative industry-led solutions to support the design, delivery and operation of sustainable, resilient infrastructure.

Ainsley Simpson, ISCA’s Chief Executive Officer, said, “Australians know the decisions we make today will have long-term consequences as we adapt to climate change and disruptive technologies, while meeting the changing needs of growing communities.”

Ms Simpson said ISCA agreed with the Audit’s stance that sustainability and resilience are not ‘fringe concepts’, but rather good economic practice.

“While it’s possible to start creating change at any point in an asset’s lifecycle, the greatest opportunities lie at the earliest stages, starting with strategic planning,” she said.

Enhancing planning to meet increasing challenges

According to the Audit, more than $200 billion in infrastructure investment is in the project pipeline, while $123 billion is underway.

“Infrastructure Australia makes the challenge ahead clear: infrastructure projects are increasing in size and complexity. This demands innovative approaches to delivery, operations and skills development,” Ms Simpson said.

“We must meet our global emissions reductions targets under the Paris Agreement. In terms of Australia’s total emissions, 70 per cent is generated through the construction, operation or use of infrastructure.

“Creating a pathway to reduce infrastructure-related carbon, whether embodied or emitted, will have a significant positive effect on reducing our national emissions.”

Infrastructure Australia’s Audit identifies 180 challenges and opportunities; 22 of these are directly addressed by ISCA and the Infrastructure Sustainability (IS) Rating Scheme.

“We already have 63 projects worth $165 billion that demonstrate how well-planned, well-designed infrastructure can be economically and environmentally sustainable and support our growing communities over the long-term,” Ms Simpson said.

ISCA’s IS Rating Scheme links infrastructure development directly to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, aligning industry best practice with global sustainability targets.

IS-rated projects have collectively avoided 20 million tonnes of emissions, 150 million waste to landfill and 170 million megalitres of water consumption.

“Australia has industry-accepted best practice benchmarks for sustainable, resilient infrastructure – the IS Rating Scheme.

“We now need wider mandates from all three tiers of government to ensure all infrastructure delivers cultural, social, environmental and economic benefits,” Ms Simpson said.

“Many of the issues raised in the Audit demand revolutionary thinking and radical changes to industry practice. ISCA is working across the infrastructure sector to accelerate innovation because we know this will make the most of this unmissable opportunity.”

Download ISCA’s submission in response to Infrastructure Australia’s 2019 Audit here.

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