From the magazine

Rating Australia’s sustainability

The Australian Green Infrastructure Council (AGIC) will provide a robust framework to assess and rate sustainability performance for infrastructure projects.

The AGIC Rating Scheme will contribute to the establishment of a common, nationally recognised industry language, metrics and understanding based on the principles of economic, social and environmental sustainability.

AGIC Chair David Hood says “The nation’s growth and increasing public awareness of sustainability issues, such as the effects of climate change, have never been more topical. To ensure the development of Australia’s infrastructure considers the full range of sustainability issues, a rigorous scheme must be implemented.”

The rating scheme will establish sustainability performance benchmarks and reward infrastructure projects and organisations that achieve high outcomes and innovation against these benchmarks. AGIC proposes adopting criteria within the seven sustainability categories to assess the sustainability outcomes associated with the procurement, design, construction, operation and decommissioning of infrastructure. The scheme will not include building, residential dwelling and developments or industrial processes.

Sustainability categories

  • Project management and governance
  • Economic performance
  • Using resources
  • Emissions, pollution and waste
  • Biodiversity
  • People and place
  • Workforce.

AGIC’s rating scheme is intended to apply to the following infrastructure types:

  • Telecommunications infrastructure*
  • Water and wastewater supply and treatment infrastructure*
  • Distribution grids (pipes, poles, wires)
  • Roads and tunnels
  • Railways and bridges
  • Airports
  • Ports and marinas
  • Cycle and pedestrian pathways
  • Civil engineering headworks of industrial processes.*

*limited scope

Why should you join?

The rating scheme and tools are in the early stages of development. Membership enables an organisation to influence the development of the rating scheme and gives the opportunity to ensure the launched product meets the needs and expectations of your aspect of the industry.

Foundation members include GHD; Thiess; Department of Environment; Climate Change and Water NSW; Queensland Government EPA; ACTEW Corporation; LG Infrastructure Services; Parsons Brinckerhoff; Brisbane City and Winslow.

Organisations and industry practitioners have provided more than $A2.5 million of in-kind and monetary support to AGIC to date. However, government investment of $A1.25 million is crucial to developing the AGIC Rating Scheme.

AGIC’s inaugural conference was held in October at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre. More than 120 sustainability professionals attended the conference that focused on the social, economic and environmental challenges facing the delivery of sustainable infrastructure in Australia.

Where does trenchless rate?

AGIC CEO Doug Harland said that while the scheme will not directly incorporate specific construction processes in its structure, “it will recognise construction practices on a specific project that improve environmental outcomes, safety and reduce GHG emissions. In this way I would anticipate trenchless practices would enhance the projects’ sustainability score when assessed.”

Mr Harland added that “the best way to ensure a project’s sustainability scoring is enhanced by trenchless practices is to have independently verified data that validates any benefit available to the assessor/verifier that assesses the project.”

When asked why the trenchless industry should support AGIC and the rating scheme, Mr Harland explained that AGIC plans to be a catalyst for the transformation of sustainability in infrastructure and encourage innovation in its delivery.

“Projects that can demonstrate design and construction processes that deliver better environmental, social and economic outcomes will achieve higher scores during assessment.

“Membership of AGIC by the organisations in the trenchless industry will give access to the newsletters, updates and workings of the scheme as it develops. The inclusion of an organisation’s logo in the AGIC member logo sheet also sends a message to the broader infrastructure industry regarding its commitment and leadership in sustainability practices.”

Mr Harland said it is also likely that the trenchless industry’s direct stakeholders have individually or collectively made corporate and project related sustainability and climate change commitments and objectives. Becoming an active member of a national-industry-related sustainability organisation like AGIC could support the commitment and assist with realising how to achieve some objectives.

The closing date to apply for Foundation Membership is 31 December 2009, email for more information.

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