construction site with a few cranes at early stage (brisbane, qld, australia) - all logos and names removed

A new discussion paper, published by Infrastructure New South Wales (iNSW), has provided guiding principles for the decarbonisation of public infrastructure.

Focusing on reducing embodied emissions, the paper brings the New South Wales Government closer to its adopted goal of net zero emissions across the state’s economy by 2050 and delivering a 50 per cent reduction in emissions below 2005 levels by 2030.

The paper defines embodied emissions as ‘emissions resulting from the production of materials used in the construction of infrastructure, their transport to site and from the construction process itself’. 

The paper suggests that simply not building new infrastructure is the easiest way to reduce embodied emissions, which is why iNSW recommend the use of options analysis and design optimisation to apply a hierarchy of approaches which include non-build solutions or adapting an existing asset.

In instances where new infrastructure is needed, the paper suggests measures including the measurement of decarbonisation, earlier collaboration, recycled materials, and the assessment  of the climate impacts transport infrastructure projects will have across their lifecycle.

Peak transport body Roads Australia (RA) has supported the findings, which it said align closely with its recent report The Journey to Net-Zero – Inspiring Climate Action in the Australian Transport Sector, delivered from an industry-first partnership between RA, the Australian Railway Association (ARA) and the Infrastructure Sustainability Council (ISC).

RA claims that the iNSW discussion paper’s principle to adopt a whole of New South Wales Government approach to measuring embodied emissions in infrastructure is a significant step in achieving its calls for a national measurement framework to accurately track and measure progress towards net zero.

“Echoing RA’s work on transitioning to a circular economy with a focus on recycled material, the discussion paper included maximising the use of recycled and low emissions building materials where possible and regularly reviewing whether standards are constraint,” an RA spokesperson said.

“RA welcomes the discussion paper’s contribution to providing our industry with clarity on a practical approach to reducing embodied emissions.”

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