Resource efficiency category added to the IS rating scheme
Resource efficiency and eco-efficiency — producing ‘more with less’ — have long been core elements of sustainable development, extending even to supply chain resource use and waste impacts. More recently the circular economy concept has emerged as an alternative economic model.
In contrast to the traditional linear economy, the circular economy continuously re-uses resources and materials to reduce dependency on sourcing new raw materials — some of which are becoming increasingly scarce. Waste itself becomes a resource in this new model.
Inspired by circular economy thinking, the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISCA) engaged global engineering and design consultancy Ramboll to apply these concepts to the planning, delivery and operation of major infrastructure projects.
Driving sustainable project delivery
ISCA drives sustainability through the development and application of its IS (Infrastructure Sustainability) rating scheme. This industry-compiled voluntary sustainability performance rating scheme evaluates planning, design, construction and operation of all infrastructure asset classes in all sectors — linking industry, communities and commerce in a holistic framework beyond regulatory standards.
Since the 2012 launch of the IS scheme, 86 projects across Australia and New Zealand totalling nearly $100 billion have either been certified or registered for an IS rating. Collectively these projects have:
- conserved 18.7 million tonnes of CO2-e, the equivalent of powering the households of Brisbane for one year;
- reduced material use by 74%, which has the equivalent environmental benefit of diverting all the household waste of Dunedin for two years;
- reduced water use by the equivalent of 67,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
Adding resource efficiency to the drivers
ISCA engaged Ramboll specifically to develop the new Resource Efficiency category for the latest version of the IS rating tool (version 2.0), which launched in July 2018.
ISCA and Ramboll believe that the new Resource Efficiency category will further enhance the ability for the IS tool to deliver significant triple-bottom line benefits, particularly now that version 2.0 allows projects to be supported earlier through the new planning phase rating.
Resource efficiency is interlinked with related, long-established concepts such as waste minimisation, cleaner production (optimising resource and economic efficiency and minimising pollution and waste), industrial ecology, resource recovery and industrial symbiosis (wastes from one industry become raw materials for another). These concepts and models all aim to achieve efficient and sustainable use of natural resources.
In developing the new IS category, circular economy thinking was applied to the planning, delivery and operation of major infrastructure projects. This approach in turn ensures a more efficient and holistic approach to resource management — one that considers optimisation and reduced impacts of material inputs and outputs throughout the project life cycle. For example, projects will be required to develop a Resource Efficiency Strategy as early as possible, so that opportunities can be identified and implemented through the project delivery life cycle.
Through the development of the new Resource Efficiency category, sustainability thinking has been successfully fast-tracked into the mindset and actions of Australia’s infrastructure delivery supply chain.
The Ramboll team was led by Nick Houldsworth, Western Australia Manager, supported by Lauren Delony, Sustainability Consultant, Ramboll New Zealand. ISCA efforts were led by Nicole Boyd, Development Manager.
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