Case Study: The Bottom Line Business Case for Sustainability

Case Study: The Bottom Line Business Case for Sustainability

Creating a clear link between financial benefits and the reduction of environmental impacts, i.e. the business case for sustainability is key to driving investment in environmentally focused projects. Edge had the opportunity to work on a project that allowed drawing a clear link between bottom line and environmental impact reduction for the development of infrastructure projects for Transport for News South Wales (TfNSW).

TfNSW wanted to establish what the cost for delivering sustainability for each of their transport assets is. They also wanted to understand the environmental impacts for their capital works programs and the quantifiable benefits and costs to deliver improved sustainability. Edge Environment was engaged to deliver a tool for TfNSW to combine the life cycle cost (LCC) and life cycle assessment (LCA) of their asset from cradle to grave over 40 years.

No toolset combining these two standards was readily available on the market. This toolset was applied to different assets, including financial and environmental impact modeling.

The modeling determined the specific cost for sustainability and calculated the cost savings and environmental benefits that can be achieved through the delivery of sustainability initiatives which include:

  • Reduced reliance on grid electricity using Solar Photovoltaic
  • Waste management strategies to avoid landfill of waste
  • Rain water capture and rain garden implementation to support Urban Sensitive Water Design
  • Sustainable Design – Change of use and climate change adaptation considerations in the design stage
  • Carbon measurement and management strategies to reduce life cycle greenhouse gas emissions
  • Energy efficient technologies, such as LED lighting, sensors, etc.
  • Green materials which included low embodied impact options for concrete, steel and aluminium
  • Enabling alternative transport options – bike racks for cycling and electric car charging.

The project utilized the ISO Whole of Life analysis standard that is now being adopted and embedded across TfNSW. A project is now underway to implement sustainability in all capital works programs to a best practice standard (where appropriate) and a new standard in Whole of Life Costing is being established across the organization that is being embedded into their business case/planning process.

The outputs from the Whole of Life Analysis tool will enable identification of net cost savings and environmental benefits. This combined view of bottom line financials and environmental impacts will support strategic business decision-making. As an example, the development of a car park achieved significant cost savings in both construction ($637,605) and operation plus maintenance ($760,000 in CAPEX and OPEX).

Other quantifiable environmental benefits achieved as a result of the analysis are dependent on the type and size of asset being analyzed. On the car park example, the environmental benefits achieved are summarized as follows:

  • 420 tonnes of waste to landfill avoided through the adoption of best practice waste management and the adoption of reuse/reduce/recycle strategies
  • Change of use design built into the asset to ensure that the asset can be reused at end of life. Potential to convert the car park to an office building at end of life
  • The use of green materials in the construction saved 244 tCO2 eq. Use of lower impact concrete and steel can contribute to savings of approximately 40% of the embodied carbon in the construction
  • Energy efficient lighting systems delivered 208 tCO2 eq reduction. The implementation of SOLAR PV saved an additional 217 tCO2
  • The equivalent of 47 Australian citizens’ annual environmental impact was calculated to be saved through the adoption of sustainability initiatives

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