Two recent announcements – the federal budget and Infrastructure’s 10 principles for an infrastructure led COVID-19 recovery – can catalyse a new era of sustainable infrastructure. Among the measures announced by the Morrison Government, a massive $14 billion has been allocated to new and accelerated infrastructure projects, including Melbourne to Brisbane inland rail and the Western Sydney international airport.

Shovel ready projects, like smaller scale road safety, will receive $3 billion. A further $1.9 billion investment in next generation energy technologies will support low emissions and renewable technologies and help the federal government reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

Meanwhile, Infrastructure Australia’s 10 principles have been warmly welcomed by industry. The principles include selecting projects and reform initiatives that enhance productivity, improve sustainability, build resilience and encourage innovation, as well as coordinated action on climate change and other disasters.

Our challenge is to ensure the multi-billiondollar investment ahead delivers jobs and growth today, and secures positive social, cultural, environmental and economic outcomes for many years to come. By embedding sustainability into decision-making at the earliest stages of projects we can consider whole-of-life outcomes of infrastructure. We have clear evidence that sustainable infrastructure projects not only deliver better environmental outcomes, but also maximise social, cultural and economic benefits.

Independent analysis undertaken by RPS Group, IS Rating Scheme Return on Investment, finds infrastructure projects rated under the IS Rating Scheme will deliver up to $2.40 in benefit for every dollar spent.

IS-certified as-built assets have delivered accumulated reductions of 14% in energy, 27% in water and 31% in materials when compared to declared baselines.
We know infrastructure contributes around 70% of Australia’s annual greenhouse gas emissions. But an infrastructure-led recovery from COVID-19 can create jobs, enhance national productivity and build sustainable community assets. So, let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work.

Ainsley Simpson
Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia