Current Trends in Sustainable Infrastructure

Infrastructure continues to be a key investment area here in Australia, at the Federal and State level.

NSW in particular is forging ahead with new projects, which include the Sydney Metro and the second Sydney Harbour Crossing; WestConnex; a number of light rail projects which include the Sydney Light Rail, Newcastle Light Rail and the proposed Parramatta light rail.  The list goes on and the investment is not limited to transport infrastructure, including Health Infrastructure, Communications, Education and new Stadia.

Artistic image of Sydney Light Rail vehicles, under construction in Sydney. www.sydneylightrail.com.au 

What are the key trends in sustainable infrastructure given this massive investment program?

1. Transport orientated design.  Planning and Transport are becoming more integrated as there is a need to connect jobs with homes.  The Greater Sydney Commission is currently being setup, with a key purpose to align land use and infrastructure delivery strategies.

2. New Funding models.  New funding models are required to fill the funding gap.  In the UK, Transport for London are actually building homes as a way of generating investment capital for future transport projects, developing on previously under-utilised land adjacent to the transport facilities. Value capture models are needed, as well as greater private investment through PFI/PPP arrangements.

3. Workforce development and the use of apprentices.  Skills development and training is a key trend in infrastructure delivery, but apprentices won’t fill the skills gap alone. There are already significant shortages in some technical trades such as engineering, civil construction and technical areas such as signalling. Sourcing skills from overseas is expensive and unsustainable. The solution is to invest nationally and regionally in skills development. As an example, London has set up an academy for developing tunnelling skills to support the Crossrail project. Sydney might consider doing something similar for the second Harbour Bridge crossing.

4. Resilient Sydney. The need to quantify climate change risk is now an accepted part of infrastructure planning and design especially for assets with a life span of 100 years +.

5. Sustainable sourcing and the application of BS8903.  Ethical sourcing and the need to be transparent on your supply chain is becoming a requirement on major projects. The British Standard BS8903 is also gaining acceptance and compliance is required for major projects here in NSW.

6. Whole of life approach. The need for triple bottom line measurement through the application of best available science is also gaining acceptance in the industry.  Externalities are being monetised and social return on investment models are increasingly being included in business cases for infrastructure projects.

The above are just some of the current trends in sustainable infrastructure practice. Edge are actively involved and at the forefront of this exciting phase of infrastructure investment. If you would like to discuss any of these developments or need sustainability support for your project get in touch with us.

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