The Infrastructure Sustainability Council’s 2022 Impact Report has reflected on the industry’s performance, when it comes to sustainable material use, procurement, and innovation. Roads & Infrastructure sits down with CEO Ainsley Simpson to learn more
The year 2022 can be regarded as one of the biggest years ever for the Infrastructure Sustainability Council (ISCouncil).
It marked the 10-year anniversary of the IS Rating Scheme, a system that is enabling change, while also promoting the sustainability of major and minor infrastructure projects.
As then Federal Infrastructure Minister and current Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, told the ISCouncil, since its formation in 2012, the scheme has created a shift towards infrastructure benefitting the environment, economy and society’s cultural and social needs across Australia and New Zealand.
“Throughout history we have celebrated infrastructure as the material evidence of human progress. Whether it is aqueducts and bridges, roads and railways, undersea cables and skyscrapers, we find a source of wonder,” he says.
“Today, in projects across the country the Scheme is working to educate and inspire industry to design and construct sustainable infrastructure with expertise, experience, and optimism.”
This, and more, was recently reflected on, following the release of the ISCouncil’s 2022 Impact Report.
Ainsley Simpson, Chief Executive Officer of the ISCouncil says 2022 was a year of further growth for the organisation and the industry.
“The sheer number of projects that are coming up across different asset types and areas across Australia and New Zealand is a sign of the growing commitment to sustainability” she says.
“One thing that has really stood out in 2022 is how much the industry wants to collaborate. The appetite for knowledge sharing is just phenomenal.”
Noting an impact
The 2022 Impact Report acts as a tool for the ISCouncil to review its actions throughout the previous financial year, while also highlighting examples of innovation and sustainable outcomes in projects.
Beyond displaying the momentum being made towards sustainability across the infrastructure sector, the Report also evaluated the ISCouncil’s performance against four strategic goals.
These consist of leadership (encouraging best practice through sustainability), thriving industry (supporting collaboration and innovation throughout the sector), market transformation (advocating for change and transition) and healthy organisation (ensure the ISCouncil is driven by purpose, inclusivity and quality outcomes).
These goals have been formed “to deliver on the organisations purpose, to ensure all infrastructure delivers social, cultural, environmental and economic benefits.”
This strategic plan is reviewed annually and will shape the actions and vision of the ISCouncil until 2025.
The year provided a host of highlights for the strategic plan. Forty-seven projects were certified under the IS Rating Scheme, while the ISCouncil saw growth in its online audience, as well as an increase in the number of employees (31 and 34 per cent respectfully).
Significant sustainability outcomes were also achieved. Around 6.4 million tonnes of resources were diverted from landfill, while 96 per cent of waste related to project delivery was diverted from landfill.
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“The rise in focus on sustainability, along with growth in the infrastructure pipeline means we’ll see increase demand of driving and measuring outcomes using the IS Rating Scheme,” Simpson says.
“One of the good news stories was that across the projects certified over the last five years, we saw savings of more than 55 per cent for energy-related greenhouse gas emissions across asset life cycles.’’
Apart from the 10-year anniversary of the IS Rating Scheme, 2022 also saw the introduction of the ISCouncil’s inaugural ‘Rise’ mentoring program. The program brings emerging and existing leaders together to discuss their ambitions and goals, as well as what they believe could be changed for the better.
Simpson hails the first cohort as a success and is looking forward to the program’s growth and expansion in the future.
“The ‘Rise’ program was launched at our March conference, and we had 19 mentees and 19 mentors, with the first program oversubscribed. It’s been designed to make sure that both mentees and mentors have something to gain. It’s showcasing real connection and purpose-led leadership,” she says.
As part of its commitment to support market transformation, the ISCouncil rewards innovation through the IS Rating Scheme, with participants able to collect an additional 10 points (contributing to a project’s overall rating) for using innovative technologies or methods during project design, delivery and operations.
Simpson says 2022 demonstrated a renewed effort and desire for alternative products and processes.
“What stood out to me is the jump in innovations from last year to this year,” Simpson says.
Reflected within an innovation snapshot in the 2022 Impacts Report, the industry introduced 41 new innovations on the
regional level, 30 firsts at the national level and four world firsts.
“It really highlights the industry’s appetite for delivering new ways of doings things, by making a change and making a mark in the industry. The industry has passionate people that are always looking for the next solution and a better way of doing things,” Simpson says.
Such innovations were prevalent on projects such as the second stage of the Monash Freeway Upgrade in Victoria, where the first use of Hydro Demolition Water Recycling in Australia enabled the project team to reuse 100 per cent of the water used for hydro demolitions.
The M1 Pacific Motorway Upgrade (Burleigh to Palm Beach) in Queensland also saw the use of an invertebrate sensitive road design. Structures such as culverts were designed to reduce the impact on local flora and fauna, such as a fish passage to preserve local habitats.
Simpson is enthusiastic for the future, with expectations that 2023 will be an even larger year for the ISCouncil and all beneficiaries of infrastructure sustainability.
“As the clock ticks closer to 2030 and the need to deliver on our collective carbon reduction commitments, we very much welcome the opportunity to collaborate across the sector to ensure all infrastructure is delivering environmental, social, economic and cultural benefits,” she says.
This article was originally published in the March edition of our magazine. To read the magazine, click here.