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Beca’s holistic approach to circular design and project delivery

Beca will reduce its total carbon emissions by 32 per cent by 2030.

Infrastructure consultants Beca recognise the importance of an integrated approach where whole of life considerations, materials choice and sustainable outcomes are an integral part of its project legacy. Roads & Infrastructure sits down with Business Director for Advisory, Leo Hammett, to learn how sustainability and circular economy thinking can transform our approach to infrastructure to support more sustainable outcomes.

Globally, infrastructure is responsible for 79 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions, as well as 88 per cent of related adaption costs (Infrastructure for climate action report).

As such, companies across the roads and infrastructure sectors have made commitments to develop operational changes to their planning, delivery and management to lessen their environmental impact.

This commitment has already been reflected in Beca’s pledge to reduce its total company-wide carbon emissions by 32 per cent, by 2030.

Now more than ever, the company is committed to partnering with its clients and people to light the way for a more sustainable future.

Beca Business Director for Advisory in Queensland, Leo Hammett, is overseeing the life cycle of client projects from inception through to delivery. He says Beca takes a proactive approach in supporting sustainable urban growth and climate adaptation.

“I think what differentiates us is that we bring our values of care, partnership, tenacity and enjoyment to every project. It’s not what we do. It’s how we do it,” Hammett says. “It’s not a matter of us sitting passively and waiting for other people to innovate and bring us the ideas. Our obligation to our clients and the industries in which we participate, is to bring our own innovation”.

Whether it be sustainable design and construction, environmental management, or social impact assessments, Beca’s services in the sustainability space are comprehensive, and in Hammett’s words, can be tailored to bespoke project needs.

Beca is assisting with the development of sustainable infrastructure in flood affected areas in Queensland.

Sustainability in practice

One project that presented unique challenges was the recent flood recovery in Queensland.

During the 2022 eastern Australian floods, more than 500,000 people were affected, equating to an estimated social cost of $4.5 billion, according to an independent Deloitte Report.

Hammett is assisting with the flood recovery effort, helping to ensure that infrastructure, once rebuilt, can satisfy a sustainability and flood resilience criterion.

“We’re working with local governments in the post flood response on how we can assist them to make the reconstruction effort a lot more sustainable, flood resilient, and compliant to the requirements under the Queensland Reconstruction Authority,” he says.

“Local governments were very responsive to the flood circumstance that presented during the February floods, including the mitigation of disruption to local communities. We want to play our part and deliver meaningful solutions and support the community to make infrastructure more sustainable, including their road infrastructure and other assets such as precincts, parks, gardens, and other activated spaces and places of interest for the community.”

He says that after the immediate response and clean-up, the priority quickly transitions to delivering sustainable infrastructure that will benefit the community for generations to come.

He adds that in a post flood environment, the primary effort is not only to re-activate valued community assets and spaces but to underwrite sustainability through resilience. Resilient planning, resilient design and resilient materials’ usage.

As part of Beca’s commitment to sustainability in infrastructure, it is presently collaborating with Boral in design innovation. This includes the measurement and optimisation of decarbonised concrete products, without compromise to durability and cost elements.

Hammett says it is critical to consider circular economy thinking during procurement and subsequent project stages. Prioritising local suppliers and supporting the use of low carbon and recycled products forms part of Beca’s project delivery, which focuses on achieving a net-zero outcome for clients.

“It’s our job to support our clients through the journey of realising the community’s sustainability potential and other benefits that can be achieved,” he says.

Beca's FranklyAI tool
Beca’s FranklyAI tool is helping to boost community participation in infrastructure planning and decision making.

On the horizon

Hammett says more work can be done to support what he calls “a more holistic approach”

“Sustainability goes way beyond compliance to a mandated carbon emissions measure and includes the right commercial frameworks, treatments of risk, access to capital, ownership, insurance and more. These aspects are critical to a successful project outcome where sustainability is the benchmark,” Hammett says.

Another key part of sustainability is community participation at the earliest consultative opportunity. To support community participation, the company is developing an Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered conversational chatbot, called FranklyAI.

“It provides an opportunity for a greater level of participation and understanding, as well as an ever-increasing level of inclusiveness,” he says.

Beca is assisting with sustainable consultation nationwide, as the company continues its mission to contribute to a low carbon future for the infrastructure sector.

Hammett believes sustainability is playing a key role in the development of major infrastructure projects in Brisbane, as the city ramps up its preparation for the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

He says the Games have a chance to be a “game changer” for the infrastructure and roads sector and to set a blueprint for the future.

“Australia has an opportunity with the Olympics to bring it all together in a very comprehensive and holistic way, to support a carbon positive Olympic and Paralympic Games and nature positive outcomes through a circular approach to design, build and implementation.”

Hammett sees the preparation for the Games as symbolic of how the industry and our broader society are leaving a genuine and positive legacy for future generations.

“The lead up to 2032 is a crucial time in history, when organisations will be measured against their 2030 sustainability goals. At Beca we don’t have all the answers, but we aim to work in collaboration and partnership with clients and partners to help create the future we all hope to see,” he says.

This article was originally published in the November edition of our magazine. To read the magazine, click here.



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