Big opportunity to reduce emissions from infrastructure

Bridge Melbourne CBD low res

The Victorian Government has a big opportunity to reduce the climate impacts of the infrastructure it builds and operates.

Infrastructure Victoria's latest advice to the Victorian Government, Opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions of infrastructure, makes 10 recommendations to limit carbon emissions across Victorian government schools, hospitals, transport projects and other infrastructure.

Chief Executive Officer Dr Jonathan Spear says planning and delivering infrastructure to support emissions reduction goals can save money, improve productivity and create new jobs.

“There are many ways to reduce the climate impacts of the infrastructure government builds and operates, such as getting better use from existing assets and prioritising low carbon design and materials,” Dr Spear said.

“Our advice outlines a path for government to make reducing emissions of infrastructure the new business-as-usual.”

The report recommends the Victorian Government adopt a dollar value per tonne of carbon to inform infrastructure planning and business cases. This is the approach that New South Wales and other governments have adopted, so that infrastructure project decisions are consistent with emission reduction targets and policies.

“We can’t manage what we don’t measure. Valuing emissions in business cases ensures that climate change impacts are considered alongside other costs and benefits of a project.”

Dr Spear said swift action now can offer new opportunities for Victoria as the world transitions to a low carbon economy.

“Other regions, including the USA and Europe, are introducing restrictions on high emissions materials and sustainability requirements for businesses,” Dr Spear said. “Reducing emissions of infrastructure means Victoria is better positioned as the global economy shifts.”

The advice recommends the government adopt a consistent and comprehensive approach to measure and manage carbon emissions across the lifecycle of new infrastructure projects, modelled on the UK’s PAS 2080:2023 Carbon management in buildings and infrastructure standard.

Other recommendations include training for staff across the public sector and support for industry to test low carbon materials.

“Industry told us they are ready and willing to respond to clear direction from the Victorian Government about the level and pace of infrastructure decarbonisation,” he said.

“With its multi-billion dollar pipeline of new build infrastructure, the Victorian Government has a big opportunity to influence how infrastructure is designed, what materials are used in construction and the jobs for Victorians in a low carbon economy."

Infrastructure Victoria makes 10 recommendations to the Victorian Government to reduce greenhouse emissions (carbon) from public infrastructure. The recommendations are:

  • Develop a comprehensive approach to measure and manage carbon emissions modelled on the UK’s PAS 2080:2023 Carbon management in buildings and infrastructure standard.
  • Identify and adopt carbon measurement tools and deliver training across the Victorian Government.
  • Value carbon using a target consistent approach and calculate required values to achieve Victorian emissions reduction targets.
  • Update business case guidelines and templates to integrate emissions reduction.
  • Measure carbon in infrastructure cost benefit analysis.
  • Update procurement frameworks and guidance to promote carbon reduction in tenders.
  • Update standard form contracts to include minimum carbon reduction requirements and incentives for further reductions.
  • Establish carbon management prequalification requirements for government contracts.
  • Support industry to develop zero or low emissions solutions by testing alternative materials and adopting performance-based standards.
  • Update assurance processes to include carbon emissions.

Infrastructure Victoria recommends 3 overarching principles to guide infrastructure decarbonisation efforts in Victoria:

  • Prioritise non-build or low build solutions. Aim to get better use from existing infrastructure or modify it to meet changing needs before considering a new build.
  • Align approaches with other governments and industry best practices so that Victoria can more rapidly adopt proven approaches and move quickly towards meeting decarbonisation targets and helping to build capability and expertise within industry.
  • Clarify the scale and pace of infrastructure emissions reduction to give confidence to industry to propose or take up options to reduce carbon in the significant pipeline of infrastructure projects underway.

Read our advice and associated technical report.