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ISCA’s call to do more good rather than less bad

Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia chairman David Singleton wants infrastructure planners, designers and those who deliver the projects to aim higher in sustainability.

In the organisation’s recently-released ISCA Impacts report, Singleton says that rather than settling for doing “less bad” such as less environmental destruction or social disruption, “we must aim from the outset to do more good”.

“This net-positive approach requires us to restore, regenerate and increase social, cultural, natural and economic capital.”

This means being more discerning in terms of deciding what projects should be funded than simply looking at the economic case.

Singleton points out that while robustness is often a criteria for projects, it is not the same thing as resilience.

“Robustness assumes the future is predictable but in the Anthropocene this assumption is no longer true,” he says.

Resilience is another factor that projects need to examine from the outset.

His points are among the elements that form part of the new iteration of the ISCA ratings system, ISCA V2.0, which is being released.

The impact report outlines the major changes in V2.0, the background to their inclusion and the development of the new rating toolkit.

The report has been developed in alignment with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and aims to provide a quadruple bottom-line assessment for all stages of the infrastructure lifecycle, including initial project planning and project selection.

New elements include Workforce Sustainability added to the Social Theme, an Economic theme comprising business case and options assessment and benefits realisation, a Resilience category under the Governance theme and a Green Infrastructure credit under the Environmental theme.

The report also gives a snapshot of what ISCA-registered projects have achieved since the rating system was launched in 2012.

At the time the report was written, there were 63 completed projects that had used the rating, including six in New Zealand.

There were also 81 active and registered projects.

Between them, ISCA projects have achieved avoidance of 18.7 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions, a 74 per cent reduction in material use compared to business as usual, and 67 Olympic swimming pools worth of water saved.

The report also contains a series of case studies, information resources and possible initiatives.

They include Cardno’s innovative work developing and delivering an emergency water supply system for Wellington in New Zealand; a Lendlease case study on the Caulfield to Dandenong Level Crossing Removal Project and Arup’s work on embedding sustainability goals from project inception.

There is also an explanatory piece with Supply Chain Sustainability School chief executive Robin Mellon on the Modern Slavery Act, what it means for companies and how to engage effectively with addressing modern slavery risks in the supply chain.

On the visionary side, Elon Musk’s company, Hyperloop, sets out its vision for a super-fast train between Sydney and Melbourne, Virgin discusses its work around more sustainable airline fuels and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation explains how it is working to encourage greater utilisation of renewable energy by the infrastructure sector.

  • Read the ISCA Impacts Report here

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