Maritime & Transport

Opinion: Sustainability – what it means

Antony SpriggAntony Sprigg*, the CEO of the Infrastructure Sustainability Council, discusses the idea of sustainability and ways the transport and logistics industries can implement more sustainable initiatives.

Sustainability is a word that means many things to many people. Importantly, it is ultimately not a vogue word, but rather a concept which should always be tested, revisited and revitalised. Sustainable development, defined by the Brundtland Report (UN 1987), is “development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. In essence, and as articulated so concisely in the State of the world report – Stainable Infrastructure (FIDIC 2012) – it is about development which would only truly be sustainable, and hence universally beneficial in the long term, if it balances social, environmental and economic interests and technological capabilities. For most people, in theory, this aspiration is perfectly logical and should be something we pursue. However, the reality is that humans inherently revert to short term thinking, for very natural, normal and fundamental reasons. Therefore the impacts and opportunities for being more sustainable must be linked to the short term. The short term is measurable and quantifiable, it is visceral and memorable and can be profitable or painful.

The IS (Infrastructure Sustainability) Scheme, is part of a broader built environment industry sustainability rating tool trend. Where GBCA’s GreenStar is the building sectors leading rating sustainability tool, ISCA’s IS Scheme is Australia’s only sustainability performance, assurance and rating tool for civil works and infrastructure projects and assets. The IS Tool is used to assess and rate sustainability performance aspects associated with:

  • Management and Governance
  • Using Resources
  • Emissions, Pollution and Waste
  • Ecology
  • People and Place
  • Innovation

Voluntary sustainability performance ratings tools, like IS Scheme, are an industry response to making sustainability real now, even if the benefits are only realised later. At the same time, there is significant emphasis at ISCA to collect information on the business case for sustainability, particularly issues which could have more immediate cost and risk impacts. In other words, opportunities which could reduce construction delays or operational costs.

*With a week to go until the NSW Transport Infrastructure Summit, we wanted to introduce you to Antony Sprigg who will be giving a presentation on improving the sustainability of new transport projects. Antony has held a number of management roles within professional services firms, on major infrastructure projects and has developed successful stand-alone sustainability business units for leading professional services firms. As a thought leader in applied sustainability, Antony has undertaken industry research and consultation associated with infrastructure investment, project planning and procurement decision making. Antony has been involved with ISCA from the beginning, including appointed as the Project Manager for the development of the IS rating scheme.

**Following this, Jamie will be awarding the ISCA’s first Sustainability Award for WA at the WA Transport Infrastructure Summit in Perth on the 13-14 August 2013.

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