This month, we asked the industry decision-makers, ‘How can the industry think outside the box on sustainability issues?’
As the concrete industry is making ground with solutions to lower its environmental footprint, everything from self-healing concrete to use of waste in concrete mixes are gaining momentum. It’s now time for designers to consider the whole of life benefits from precast structures with their high thermal mass (and ability to minimise heating and cooling costs in buildings), durability, long life, minimal maintenance, termite, fire and flood resistance. It’s time for both designers and builders to wholeheartedly embrace offsite construction methods for the quality, safety, economic, speed of construction and minimal waste benefits they deliver.
Since 1850, humans have emitted 2.4 trillion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere, causing millennial scale changes to the climate and oceans. Action to cut emissions towards zero is now critical and urgent. Emissions relevant to roads come from concrete, steel and transport – so the expansion of road systems and use by fossil fuel vehicles cannot continue. Knowing that widening roads causes “induced demand” and makes traffic congestion worse further strengthens the argument. Instead, let’s use existing roads and freeways as mixed transport corridors with light rail, bus ways, bicycle paths and extensive park and ride areas for electric cars.
It’s time! Industry has the skills and capability to deliver real and sustainable change to the way in which our next generation infrastructure is designed, built, maintained and rehabilitated. The “new thinking” required to make this happen is to think “partnership”. Governments across Australia are ready to engage with industry when industry can present NTRO (National Transport Research Organisation) Certified products and processes that make a step change on the journey to sustainability. At ARRB, the home of the NTRO, we have the capability and skills to deliver this certification for industry to get new and innovative products to market and deliver the partnership pathway with government.
We need to rethink the terminology we use as a starting point to influence a shift in mindset. The challenge is for the industry to view used materials as a valuable resource and an opportunity rather than waste. Our progression to infinitely reusing and repurposing materials exemplifies the circular economy and will help guarantee future resources long-term. If we can better extract the value of reused materials, we can reduce our reliance on natural resources and the unsustainable creation of waste. We can achieve incredible sustainability and circular economy outcomes by incorporating reused materials into new construction and maintenance programs.
Coates is an infrastructure project partner helping customers achieve innovative and more sustainable outcomes by participating in the circular economy. Maximising product utilisation to reduce wastage and negative impacts, while saving resources through repair, reuse and recyclability. Our equipment hire and solutions model is built on the circular economy concept. Leveraging equipment and solutions that reduce emissions, improve efficiencies and consider ‘embodied carbon’. Our Coates Greener Choices range can help customers achieve reduction targets. Partnering for positive change with shared values. Coates sustainability journey contributes to a sustainable economy that keeps products and materials in use, designs out waste and pollution, and helps regenerate the natural environment – ensuring Coates and our customers achieve their sustainability goals.
Sustainability is more than environmental management and the responsibility lies with more than just the sustainability specialist. With this in mind, engaging with the wider team by communicating the value of the sustainability, particularly social benefits, can help create personal connections and increase desire for adopting change across the business. Creating a safe space to consider environmental and social impacts as part of every decision, for today and the next generation, at work and at home; and making this easy for people by sharing examples and allowing collaboration and fostering a values based culture committed to continual improvement.
This article was originally published in the November edition of our magazine. To read the magazine, click here.
If you or someone at your organisation is an industry leader and would like to be a part of this monthly column in 2023, please get in touch with Editor, Tom O’Keane: firstname.lastname@example.org