Sustainable Infrastructure: The future is Measurement and EPDs

Edge has been working closely with TfSNW over the past 3 years on a number of strategic initiatives that includes the development of their Environment and Sustainability Policy Framework.

Transport for NSW aspires to provide a world class sustainable transport system that meets their customer expectations and optimizes the economic development of NSW. The policy states the need to balance economic, environmental and social factors to ensure a sustainable transport system for NSW.

So how does this happen? How is triple-bottom line performance actually achieved?

Measurement and whole of life are key

The TfNSW Environment and Sustainability Policy Framework is supported by KPIs and Targets to monitor performance against a set of Themes and Objectives. This is key in our view as it gives the framework some ‘teeth’ and also enables TfNSW to monitor performance through a set of agreed metrics that are underpinned by science.

The other key element is the adoption of a whole of life approach to designing and developing infrastructure assets. Edge developed a toolset in conjunction with TfNSW that combines life cycle costing (financials) with life cycle analysis (environmental and social impacts); that enables a triple bottom line view to be developed. This approach enables assets (whole transport products) and individual assets (stations, car parks, depots etc) to be modeled and optimized over their life rather than just in the upfront construction phase. Specific sustainability initiatives can be evaluated from a cost/benefit perspective; as well as the environmental and social performance that they deliver. This is leading practice and is the way to achieve positive change.

Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) against infrastructure assets

Some projects are taking measurement a step further and are stipulating the need for environmental product declarations or EPDs. EPDs are an environmental nutrition table essentially which declare what the environmental impacts are for a given product or asset. The NWRL is requiring an EPD for its rolling stock and some light rail projects are also considering the same for their light rail vehicles. Other projects are setting benchmarks for performance and are also creating EPDs against the whole transport product e.g roads, light rail network, tunnels etc.

Whilst this practice is still considered to be quite new in Australia, there is an increasing number of examples internationally and EPDs are a growing trend.

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