IS Rating Showcase at IPWEA Conference
Rating Tool Featured at Sustainability in Public Works Conference
The IS rating tool and work of the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISCA) featured prominently in the Sustainability in Public Works conference held on the Gold Coast in late July 2014 by the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia (IPWEA). ISCA has an MOU with IPWEA covering collaboration and mutual support.
The value of the IS rating scheme was highlighted when ACTEW Water's just-completed Cotter Dam project won the Sustainable Infrastructure category and overall awards in the Sustainable Solutions in Public Works awards held in conjunction with the conference. Cotter Dam is one of the first infrastructure projects in Australia to be certified under the IS rating scheme. The awards were presented by IPWEA President Michael Kahler at the conference dinner.
Accepting her awards, Kirilly Dickson of ACTEW Water said:
'Following the IS sustainability rating process from the project's outset made the project more holistically sustainable; ensured a special focus on sustainability early in the dam's design and encouraged innovation that lead to several infrastructure technology breakthroughs and world firsts. It certainly helped ACTEW Water achieve its water security objective in a sustainable manner. We are proud that this was the first project to register for an ISCA rating, and hope to achieve a 'commended' score.'
Two sessions of presentations at the conference focussed on infrastructure projects that have been certified, or are seeking certification, under the IS rating scheme, as well as development and refinement of the IS rating tool.
Scott Losee, an ISCA board member, introduced ISCA and spoke about the uptake, benefits and current initiatives to improve the IS rating scheme.
Matthew Brennan of Tenix, then spoke about the $45M design, construct and operate project to upgrade two sewage treatment plans for Whitsunday Regional Council in Queensland, which adjoin the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef. Last year this project became the first project in Australia to have its design certified as 'excellent' under the IS rating scheme. Tenix has just registered to seek an as-built rating.
Matthew explained that Tenix was convinced of its value and decided to seek an IS rating to demonstrate leadership on sustainability and to set benchmarks and targets. He listed the estimated benefits that the sustainability rating will deliver for the project, such as reductions of 44 tonnes of nutrients, 470 tonnes of carbon emissions, 460 MWh of electricity and 350 ML of water per year and 4,400 tonnes less of materials and 2,200 litres less of fuel during its construction. Matthew said that: 'Use of the IS rating scheme on this project allowed Tenix to demonstrate its innovation skills, grow its capabilities in new areas, helped demystify and demonstrate sustainability benefits, catalyse a step-change in sustainability performance, give confidence in seeking further IS ratings and provide a point of differentiation with competitors.'
ISCA's Technical Director, Rick Walters, gave two presentations on initiatives imminent or in progress to extend and improve the IS rating tool.
In the first presentation he talked about uptake of the rating tool, with two projects now certified and 21 registered. Rick noted that use of the tool is increasingly being specified in the tenders for major infrastructure projects. He spoke about the two projects already certified and the sustainability improvements they had realised. Rick concluded his talk with a brief overview of current or imminent initiatives to further develop the rating tool – including pilot operational rating trials, new economic and workforce themes, planning guidelines and use of the tool in New Zealand.
In his second presentation Rick described the process and likely outcomes of a current review of the rating tool's climate change adaptation category by staff in the Commonwealth Department of Environment. Whilst that work is not yet completed, Rick expects it will propose refining the existing category to reward good climate risk management - as demonstrated by the implementation of no/low regret adaptation measures and robust planning for all plausible future climate scenarios by mapping and adopting adaptation pathways.
In the following presentation IPWEA's Sustainability Director, Dr Stephen Lees, introduced PASS. This is a simple spreadsheet-based tool just developed by IPWEA and ISCA. PASS is based on the findings of last year's pilot application of the IS rating tool to roads operations and maintenance by local councils. Stephen said that:
'The tool will help local councils prioritise potential actions to make their local roads management more sustainable, and thereby identify the most worthwhile early actions to take to start on their sustainability journey. In the next stage of its development, PASS will be extended to cover all the main types of local council infrastructure assets.'
The next presentation by Anna Scott of McConnell Dowell described the just-opened Gold Coast Light Rail project and how its design and construction was shaped by application of the IS rating scheme. Anna said the key lessons learnt by McConnell Dowell, as a contractor, were the need to get the right governance, culture and accountabilities from the outset, embed sustainability at the start and make sure client's culture matches that of the contractor. She outlined some of the sustainability benefits of the completed project, which started operating the weekend before the conference, when 80,000 packed the trams on their first day of passenger services.
The final presentation in those sessions by Kirilly Dickson of ACTEW Water concerned design and construction of Cotter Dam near Canberra. She outlined the reasons for the project, why it was decided to seek an IS rating and how that influenced the project's planning, design and construction. Sustainability initiatives taken included achieving carbon neutrality, biodiversity offsets, re-use of resources, use of biodiesel, protecting endangered fish, water recycling, compulsory car-pooling for workers and community education.