Image for Sustainability in Infrastructure: Planning for our future

Delegates at this year's ISCA Conference heard that matching our need for nation-building infrastructure with outcomes that are sustainable depends on early planning, collaboration and the specification and procurement of sustainable materials.

“The need and demand for more sustainable, resilient and smarter infrastructure is increasing daily and not just here – it’s a global movement.

So said Antony Sprigg, CEO of the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISCA), in the lead-up to October’s 2017 Infrastructure Sustainability Conference and Awards in Melbourne. ISCA, the peak body for infrastructure sustainability in Australia, represents all stakeholders in the infrastructure supply chain.

Sprigg went on to say that more infrastructure is required to deliver higher service levels with greater capacity and flexibility. “Over the period leading to 2032, the world will require about $90 trillion in new infrastructure. All this with an expectation of lower costs, less impact and a lighter footprint,” he said.

Speaking at the Conference, ISCA Director  said substantial progress is being achieved. “It’s really great to see what’s already happening: that we are transforming how people are designing, constructing and managing infrastructure that delivers a more sustainable and resilient future for our communities and our environment,” she said.

The focus on delivering sustainable outcomes in infrastructure is shifting. Once the focus of sustainability specialists charged with delivering additional benefits to the core financial and performance objectives of the infrastructure project, such as a major new road’s focus on easing congestion, cutting journey times and improving safety, or a hospital re-development improving patient care outcomes, increasingly sustainability is a core performance objective of infrastructure projects.

Mark Millar, Principal Parks Advisor at Auckland Council, said at the Conference that sustainability is now business as usual. “It’s no longer an add-on or a nice-to-have, and it doesn’t fall off as soon as the budgets get tight,” he said.

His view was echoed by Mark Sawatzki , LendLease Sustainability Lead: “Once upon a time it was seen as just the sustainability professional who should be driving to do everything, but now it is actually a culture to drive sustainability within the infrastructure industry.”

An enlightening conference workshop was held entitled Unlocking the sustainability potential through the power of procurement that featured five industry specialists.

Panellist Rob Johnson, Customer and Market Relationship Manager at Liberty OneSteel, used the occasion to reinforce the importance of engagement with the supply chain as a way to encourage positive sustainability outcomes.  

“The key to unlocking the power of procurement to deliver enhanced sustainability outcomes is early and consistent engagement with the supply chain, ensuring all parties are clear on project deliverables and expectations,” he said.

True engagement means more than just having an initial conversation, he added. “Thorough and detailed collaboration is necessary, as is coordination of all elements of the supply chain to facilitate optimisation of project outcomes.

“We need to understand projects’ specification, design, supply and logistics, and sustainability requirements to ensure resources are adequately allocated to support those requirements.

Johnson went on to say it’s far preferable to ‘front-end-load’ at the concept design stage rather than rather than attempt to ‘back-fill’ towards project completion.

“Talk to us often, talk to us early,” he said.

Liberty OneSteel products can be supplied with Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for its structural and reinforcing ranges.  Liberty OneSteel’s five EPDs can be downloaded here.