ISCA congratulates Infrastructure Australia on the Australian Infrastructure Plan
One of the challenges (and inherently an opportunity) for IA will now be determining and encouraging best practice in infrastructure solution identification and valuing beyond the traditional financial metrics and including material externalities. We anticipate that the proposed National Governance Principles and the Infrastructure Performance Measurement Framework will provide industry more detail and guidance regarding these issues. ISCA also strongly encourages IA to consider how current and future priority projects will address issues and enable outcomes including:
- Ensuring that new assets can be deconstructed/unlocked and re-used, and that these whole of life costs and benefits are factored into the business case.
- Ensuring that new assets are designed and built to be adapted to additional and/or changed use e.g. multi-modal transport solutions, integrating utilities, emerging city wide digital solutions etc.
- Ensuring that material externalities like carbon, air quality, biodiversity, social license, climate impacts, social procurement and workforce equity, capacity, capability and continuity outcomes are valued economically, and the benefits realised and measured.
- Lower impact and often lower cost solutions (e.g. green infrastructure) are included and delivered as part of major infrastructure investments.
- Demonstrating in each priority project business case how the respective national and local, sustainability and resilience objectives and targets will be met.
It is positive to see that the “market signals” initially established through the AIA and now reinforced by the AIP have resonated with many of the states and territories, where some advanced thinking with respect to best practice in infrastructure needs decision making, business case development and consideration of externalities is being benchmarked and established. It is pleasing to see that in these jurisdictions, issues like greenhouse gas emissions, planning for natural hazards and climate impacts, resilient systems, social license and so on, are key infrastructure planning and business case development considerations.
Fundamentally ISCA, who’s mandate is to partner with the wider infrastructure sector to make Australia’s infrastructure (current assets and new projects) more sustainable and resilient, is fully supportive of the importance directed by IA with respect to needing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, planning for extreme events and climate impacts and improving the efficiency of infrastructure to drive greater sustainability as well as finding least cost pathways to a lower emissions future. The ISCA Infrastructure Sustainability (IS) rating scheme, the leading tool for rating and benchmarking across Social, Economic and Environmental issues, and designed as a management performance framework, is the logical industry developed means to assist with ensuring that sustainability and resilience issues and expectations, as highlighted in the AIP, can be practically addressed, measured, reported and recognized. The scheme is also an important means to capture data to enable more informed infrastructure planning decisions.
It is pleasing to see that many of the projects in the IA priority list are, or soon will be, registering for an IS rating with ISCA. This will provide them with the industry standard and guidance on infrastructure sustainability to support consideration and demonstration of sustainable and resilient infrastructure, and ultimately recognition of performance through an independently verified certification process.