Australia & New Zealand's infrastructure industry is well positioned to reach net zero
By Sumit Oberoi, Industry Strategist, Autodesk Construction Solutions
Tuesday, 27 September, 2022
Australia and New Zealand’s infrastructure industry is well positioned to meet 2030 benchmarks and the net zero carbon by 2050 goal to address climate change risks identified by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Almost every jurisdiction requires infrastructure supply chains to deliver carbon reductions measured using the Infrastructure Sustainability Council Rating Scheme (IS Rating Scheme). This is the Australian and New Zealand rating framework designed to assess the sustainability of the planning, design, construction and operation phases of infrastructure programs, projects, networks and assets.
The IS Rating Scheme evaluates governance, economic, environmental and social performance and has now become standard practice in most states and territories for any major transport project to plan and deliver carbon reductions, across a broad range of asset classes and sizes. Throughout Australia we have also started to see a range of targeted policy programs to incentivise innovation and uptake in low-emissions building materials, renewable energy and the circular economy.
Our industry is strongly placed to help enable this transition over the next decade because of its role in shaping societies and economies and through its unique position to influence emissions reductions, leverage investment and respond to policy incentives from government, proponents and asset owners.
However, collective action is needed to deliver the low-carbon, climate-resilient infrastructure that meets community, government and investor requirements.
The infrastructure industry’s contribution to emissions
Across Australia, it is estimated that infrastructure contributes around 70% of national emissions; with around 15% (or approximately 87 million tonnes of CO2 per year) directly contributed through the delivery and operations of that infrastructure.
The infrastructure industry has already demonstrated the influence it can have on the reduction of emissions, with most recently delivered infrastructure projects being able to deliver a combined 11% reduction of CO2 equivalent from materials across the asset lifecycle, and 68% reduction from energy use.
However, over the three years from 2021 to 2024 it is expected that around $166 billion will be spent by governments in Australia on infrastructure.
Joint industry report highlights positive findings
In December 2021, in a first-time collaboration, Autodesk, the Australian Constructors Association, Consult Australia and the Infrastructure Sustainability Council released a joint report to support industry in accelerating a net zero future through the design and construction of the infrastructure pipeline.
The report, A net-zero future delivered through our infrastructure pipeline, signals that a whole-of-business, systems-based approach across asset lifecycles is required to accelerate the journey to net zero. This includes pulling key levers such as procurement, materials, methodologies, technology and people capability.
There are many tools identified in the report which also map key enabling levers against asset lifecycle phases, as well as a net zero delivery model to prompt and guide decision-making — from rethinking and redefining problems and solutions through to reducing carbon-intensive materials and ensuring regenerative approaches are integrated in asset design and construction.
The report also presents real-world case studies to inspire project teams to use, adapt, scale and accelerate further innovation. Technology is also identified as a key enabler of decarbonisation.
How technology supports the infrastructure industry
Technology supports the infrastructure industry with the tools they need to unlock insights, make better decisions and achieve superior outcomes.
Software helps automate complex processes and transform data into actionable insights that empower innovators to improve the impact of everything they design, make, own and operate. Cloud solutions and connected data environments fuel innovation — across technology, processes, supply chains and industries. This opportunity is only accelerating.
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