Five minutes with Ainsley Simpson, ISCA’s Business and Technical Services Manager

Ainsley SimpsonThe Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISCA) is Australia’s peak industry body for advancing sustainability in infrastructure. ISCA provides a common language on the topic, while playing the role of authority, advocate for its members and pillar of quality – the latter through its IS rating tool, Australia’s first and only national sustainability rating tool for infrastructure.

Since launching in 2012, more than $79 billion in infrastructure and civil works projects or assets across Australia and New Zealand have registered to be certified. From the IS ratings completed to date, sustainability initiatives have translated into ROI’s ranging from 1:4 to 1:400.

Ainsley Simpson is ISCA’s Business and Technical Services Manager. She oversees the operations of the IS rating scheme, ensuring ISCA’s tools and delivery are always improving, as is the training and development programme.

This week, she spoke to Edge about market transformation, stakeholder engagement and where she sees infrastructure sustainability progressing in the near future.

Sustainable infrastructure has come a long way in the last 5–10 years, and ISCA has played a pivotal role in creating a consistent framework, language and tool set for industry. What’s next? What do you see as the next frontier for sustainable infrastructure in the next 5–10 years?

I believe that sustainability, like safety and quality, will become a business driver that is embedded across operations and is regarded as a metric for success. Three fronts of change are possible for infrastructure sustainability:

  1. Industry will continue to push the boundaries and advance sustainable outcomes in infrastructure.
  2. The IS framework will continue to expand, responding to future industry challenges, accommodating new approaches and, importantly, aligning with global imperatives – particularly to the Sustainable Development Goals.
  3. The community of practice will continue to broaden and extend across the whole supply chain.

What do you think clients, builders, sub-contractors and operators do particularly well in delivering good sustainability outcomes in Australia and New Zealand? What should they be bragging about?

In Australia, much of the transformation has been in management and governance, with many top-tier organisations aligning systems and processes to enable efficient delivery of sustainability outcomes. New Zealand is leading the way when it comes to stakeholder engagement, with a focus on addressing cultural considerations. There has also been significant advances in resource efficiency, particularly energy savings and material selection. Similarly, managing discharges has moved well beyond compliance.

What barriers would you like to remove to further catalyse sustainable infrastructure in Australia?

In keeping with our core values, I’d encourage three actions, which some of our members are already embracing:

  1. Value creation: agencies and top-tier organisations taking a leadership role when building capacity and strengthening relationships with suppliers to encourage innovation and create a more efficient value chain;
  2. Openness to innovation: being open to considering alternative approaches and trialling alternative materials, while ensuring that standards are maintained, evolved and rapidly adopted;
  3. Knowledge sharing: working together with ISCA to quantify, and proactively and widely communicate, the benefits that are being delivered at the asset or project level.

We know ISCA is working hard on v2.0 of the IS Rating Tool. For people not so familiar with the next version, what are the highlights and what are you the most excited about?

We recently surveyed the industry and the results confirmed that we are focusing on the right key content areas that are important to the industry. These include:

  • The economic theme, which addresses value externalities, equity and distributional impact, and benefits realisation.
  • There is also a development focus on sustainable procurement.
  • Re-benchmarking all of the credits is also exciting and will clearly demonstrate the extent of change over the past few years.

The most exciting part of v2.0 is the development process. We get to work with phenomenal people in the industry who genuinely embrace sustainability.

The range of interest and engagement from such a wide section of industry has been incredible. For the most part, many of our advisory groups are oversubscribed and there is growing interest in peer review. There is no doubt v2.0 will be a meaningful and robust framework that will deliver value for industry and our communities.

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